We welcome applications in support of traditions that are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. We seek to support traditional forms of expression that are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice. In addition to music, dance, crafts, and oral expression, traditions not typically considered “art” are also eligible, including foodways, occupational culture, forms of environmental stewardship and more. If you are unsure if your tradition is eligible, please contact program staff at folklife@virginia.edu or (434) 924-3296. (Adapted from the Folk & Traditional Arts grant program guidelines, National Endowment for the Arts.) Examples of traditions supported in the past include:  

  • Automobile Pinstriping 
  • Blacksmithing 
  • Boat Building 
  • Bomba Dancing 
  • Cambodian Costume Making 
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Singing 
  • Fried Apple Pie Making 
  • Instrument Making 
  • Mexican Folkloric Dance 
  • Old-Time Banjo, Fiddle, Rhythm Guitar 
  • Oyster Shucking 
  • Patawomeck-Style Split Oak Eel Pots 
  • Quilting 
  • Apple Grafting  
  • Tobacco Auctioneering  

A group sharing cultural, regional, ethnic, racial, religious, gender, age, and/or occupational bonds. Such groups share customs, heritage, and artistic expressions, which include the traditional arts. 

We understand borders are fluid, especially when it comes to cultural traditions. We ask that you explain why it is important to support this apprenticeship, with particular attention to how it may impact other Virginians. If the mentor artist lives outside of Virginia, please explain why the apprentice is not seeking to work with someone more local. If the apprentice is outside of Virginia, please explain how the apprenticeship will invigorate the practice of the mentor artist and/or impact other Virginians.  

Yes. However, as part of the University of Virginia, we uphold the university’s Code of Conduct for the Protection of Minors, and will include a request that all parties follow these practices in the award acceptance process.  

Yes, we understand that families are an essential throughline for traditions. We prefer to support knowledge exchange from one family to another, but we welcome in-family applications. 

Yes, but we require a period of at least five years between apprenticeships. More than once an artist who was an apprentice has returned to the program to teach the skill as a mentor artist.  

This hallmark program is currently on hiatus. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Folklife Program began producing short documentaries highlighting its apprenticeship teams and screening these films around the state in addition to releasing them on our YouTube channel.