Virginia Humanities partners with Arts Council on folklife film

By Page H. Gifford

Carysbrook Performing Arts Center is finally opening its doors again to the public after almost three years of being shuddered and silent. Once again, the theater will be filled with music.

New to the venue will be visual arts and film. To kick off the 2022-23 season, the Center will open on Sept. 9, 5:30-8 p.m., with a film presented by the Virginia Folklife Program.

Based at Virginia Humanities, the Virginia Folklife Program is the state center for the documentation, presentation, support, and celebration of Virginia’s cultural heritage. Folklife is the centerpiece of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage, expressed in its stories, music, performance, and hand-crafted items. It is the arts, customs, and practices that emerge in a community from necessity and eventually become the traditions of a culture and its connection to the community. The goal of the Virginia Folklife Program is to preserve the community traditions that entertain, inspire, and define Virginians. The program receives funding and support from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts Program.

 Since 2002, Virginia Folklife’s Apprenticeship Program has served over 150 teams, consisting of two-or-more mentor artists and their apprentices, as well as granting funding, supporting and encouraging the continuation of cultural traditions. The program has supported artists who are masters in traditions ranging from instrument repair in southwest Virginia to Mongolian mask-making in Northern Virginia to growing and grinding heirloom cornmeal on the Eastern Shore. Other than awarding teacher-student teams with financial support, it also provides a platform to share their work. Carysbrook will be one of those platforms.

“The Fluvanna Arts Council is committed to presenting the stories and culture of our community through music, art, film, and food. We are thrilled to partner with Virginia Humanities. The Virginia Folklife Program is such a strong leader in the celebration of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage,” said Sharon Harris, president of the Fluvanna County Arts Council. It has been her goal to bring diversity to the performing arts center as well as adding other forms of art, including film and visual arts, making it a comprehensive experience for the community.

In Good Keeping in 2022 introduces audiences to the most recent mentor artists and their apprentices. This screening will feature and honor participating mentor artist Horace Scruggs, who led an apprenticeship team that included his daughter, genealogist Hannah Scruggs, and historian Niya Bates. Together, this team worked to repossess their relationship to the James River, by navigating it in a bateau, the same way their ancestors, freed and enslaved once did.

Following the film, there will be a discussion with Scruggs and filmmaker Pat Jarrett, digital media specialist for Virginia Folklife Program, and Justin Reid, director of community initiatives for Virginia Humanities.

Before the screening, there will be a reception featuring refreshments and snacks by Luz Lopez, who participated in the apprenticeship program in 2019, training her daughter in making the traditional recipes of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

The event is free and open to all but registration is required. Visit  to register.

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