The National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship is the highest honor that our nation bestows upon its folk and traditional artists. Each year, nine to thirteen individuals, “national living treasures” from across the nation, are chosen to receive this one-time-only Fellowship in recognition of lifetime achievement, artistic excellence and contributions to our nation’s cultural heritage.
Bess Lomax Hawes, first director of NEA’s Folk & Traditional Arts Program, created the National Heritage Fellowships in 1982. National Heritage Fellowships are awarded on an annual basis. Recipients are announced in early summer; the Fellowship award ceremonies and other activities take place the following fall.
For over 30 years, the NCTA has worked with the National Endowment for the Arts on a consulting basis to manage and coordinate the annual week of activities in Washington, D.C. honoring Fellowship recipients. These include a Capitol Hill award ceremony, a banquet in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress and a culminating gala public concert featuring the Fellowship awardees produced by the NCTA.
For information on how to nominate a deserving traditional artist for a National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship, visit the NEA website: arts.gov/honors/heritage
“The folk and traditional arts which include music, crafts, dance, storytelling, and others are those that are learned as part of the cultural life of a community whose members share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These traditions are shaped by the aesthetics and values of a shared culture and are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community through observation, conversation, and practice.”
National Endowment for the Arts