Apprenticeships ensure that cherished cultural traditions are passed along to future generations. Each year, the Virginia Folklife Program pairs experienced master artists with eager apprentices for one-on-one nine-month learning experiences in all forms of Virginia’s traditional, expressive culture.

Begun in 2002, more than 150 master and apprentice teams–in art forms as wide ranging as decoy carving, fiddle making, boat building, country ham curing, African American gospel singing, Mexican folk dancing, just to name a few–help ensure that Virginia’s treasured folkways continue to receive new life and vibrancy, engage new learners, and reinvigorate master practitioners.

The apprenticeships are more than “workshops” or “lessons.” The apprentices learn their chosen craft not in classrooms or lecture halls, but in their traditional contexts, calling upon the complete engagement of the senses, and a deeper appreciation for the many ways in which the traditional art form operates within its larger cultural landscape.

Apprenticeship News

Sights & Sounds

Real Folk: Passing on Trades and Traditions of the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program

Watch the 5-episode virtual tour: Since 2002, the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program at Virginia Humanities has brought together more than 150 experienced master artists and eager apprentices, ensuring various art …

Sights & Sounds

Junious Brickhouse and Tyrone Edwards

Born in 1974, Junious Lee Brickhouse grew up in a musical household in the African American communities of Virginia Beach and Norfolk. His mother, Lynda, shared with him her love …

Sights & Sounds

Luz Lopez and Princey Reyes

Luz Maria Lopez was born in the small town of Morocoy, in the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula after her parents moved there from Michoacán. Her mother …

Application Process

Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship awards are available for 12-month apprenticeships. Qualified master artists will receive a $2,000 stipend, paid in two installments at the beginning and end of the apprenticeship period. Apprentices are eligible to receive $300 for travel and expenses.

In the 2021-2022 cycle, Virginia Folklife Apprenticeships will begin on May 1, 2021 and run through May 1, 2022. If you are selected for an apprenticeship award, the Folklife Program will arrange for payment and site visits by the director and photographer of the Virginia Folklife Program. 

Eligibility

The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program welcomes applications for apprenticeships in all forms of Virginia’s traditional, expressive culture. The master artist and apprentice should both be residents of Virginia. If one or both of the participants reside outside of Virginia, a compelling case must be made regarding the connection of the applicants to Virginia, and the importance of their proposed traditional skill to Virginia culture. It is also preferred, though not required, that masters and apprentices belong to the same cultural community.

Completing the Online Application

Part A is to be completed by the master artist, Part B is to be completed by the apprentice, and Part C is to be completed by both the master artist and the apprentice together. Please answer all questions as thoroughly as possible.

Support Materials

Both master artists and apprentices are strongly encouraged to include audio/visual and/or written support materials that speak to their abilities. Support materials will be returned at the conclusion of the review process only upon request, and only if a self-addressed USPS or UPS paid mailer is provided. Letters of recommendation that attest to the qualifications of the master artist are a critical component of the application review process. Hard copy items can be sent to:

Virginia Folklife Program
Re: Apprenticeship Application
145 Ednam Drive
Charlottesville VA 22903

All applications must be submitted by January 31, 2021, though we encourage you to submit your application before the deadline.

If you have questions about the application or need assistance, please contact Jon Lohman, Director for the Virginia Folklife Program, 434-243-7030, lohman@virginia.edu.

Selection and Notification

The Folklife Apprenticeship Committee, comprised of regional folklife experts, will review each application based on the following criteria:

  • Traditional nature of the proposed art or skill
  • Expertise of the master artist
  • Demonstrated level of commitment by the master artist and the apprentice to the apprenticeship
  • Potential impact of the apprenticeship on the continued vitality of the tradition
  • Relevance and importance of the tradition to the cultural history of Virginia
  • Feasibility of work plan and the coherence of the overall apprenticeship

Applicants will be notified about the committee’s decisions by February 15, 2021.

Requirements and Payments

Teams accepted into the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program must:

  1. Attend the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase at the beginning and end of their apprenticeship. Lodging and mileage costs will be provided as needed. This event is a public celebration and recognition of Virginia’s Folk Masters and their apprentices. The 2021 Apprenticeship Showcase takes place Sunday, May 16, 2021 at James Monroe’s Highland located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.
  2. To receive the stipend, the master and apprentice each must register the University of Virginia, providing all W-9 information. Instructions for registering will be provided upon acceptance.

Accepted master artists will receive the first $1000 honorarium in August of 2021 and the second $1000 in April of 2022. Apprentices will receive $300 in April of 2022. (Payments are made based on availability of grant funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and UVA’s Office of sponsored programs.) 

The Ingramettes and world-champion oyster shucking sisters Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon demonstrated their crafts at Venable Elementary School in Charlottesville on Friday, 2/17/17. They were at the school for the annual Soul Fest program.

Our cultural traditions have the power to inspire hope and strengthen our communities as Virginians.

This work has never been more important, and we’d be thrilled to have you make a gift.