NEA National Heritage Fellowships

About the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 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. The NCTA has organized these annual activities since 1983.

For information on how to nominate a deserving traditional artist for a National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship, visit the NEA’s website

2024 National Heritage Fellows

Bril Barrett, Tap Dancer from Chicago, Illinois
Bril Barrett fell in love with tap at age four. He learned in the West African “ring shout” tradition which he now teaches. A co-founder of Making A Difference Dancing Rhythms Organization (M.A.D.D. Rhythms), Barrett is helping to provide affordable arts education and mentorship to Chicago youth through tap. 

Fabian Debora, Chicano Muralist from Los Angeles, California
Mentored by many artists and muralists of the Chicano art movement and influenced by his past as a former gang member and incarcerated individual, Fabian Debora’s talents and hope led to a life of creative expression through mural art. Debora now serves as a mentor and shares his gifts by teaching others with similar lived experiences.

Rosie Flores, Rockabilly and Country Musician from Austin, Texas
Rosie Flores has been songwriting, singing, and playing guitar for more than four decades, preserving and extending the musical legacies of Texan musicians that came before her. Her groundbreaking talent helped lay the foundation for what has grown into the alt country movement.

Trimble Gilbert (Gwich’in), Gwich’in Fiddler from Arctic Village, Alaska
As a young boy, Trimble Gilbert was captivated by the sounds of fiddle and exuberance of dance during gatherings in the remote and isolated Alaskan villages of the Gwich’in people. Through watching, listening, and diligent practice, Trimble developed his own repertoire of songs and unique style, and has dedicated much of his life to teaching others the Gwich’in fiddle.

Todd Goings, Carousel Carver and Restorationist from Marion, Ohio
Master carousel carver and restorationist Todd Goings has worked for 35 years to keep the art of American carved wooden carousels alive and—through his full-service carousel workshop—revived the century-old leisure experience for a new century.

Susan Hudson (Navajo/Diné), Quilter from Ignacio, Colorado and Sheep Springs, New Mexico
Navajo/Diné artist Susan Hudson was taught to sew by her mother, Dorothy Woods, when she was nine years old. Hudson’s pictorial quilts honor her ancestors and the proud history of the Navajo people using a crossover style inspired by ledger art.

June Kuramoto, Koto Musician from Alhambra, California
June Kuramoto immigrated to America from Japan as a child. Upon hearing the koto, a 13-string Japanese instrument, she knew this would be her connection to Japan. Combining the traditional koto with contemporary American music, Kuramoto formed a band through which she mentors others who share a sense of pride in their culture and identity.

Sochietah Ung, Cambodian Costume Maker and Dancer from Washington, DC
With knowledge derived from his childhood in Cambodia, Sochietah Ung is a multitalented costume maker, dancer, teacher, choreographer, playwright, and producer. He passionately shares his skills across Cambodian communities nationwide and beyond.

Zuni Olla Maidens, Traditional Zuni Dancers and Singers from Zuni, New Mexico
Zuni Olla Maidens are a renowned dance group of all women, who dance with fragile water jars, or ollas, balanced on the top of their heads. They play an important role in Zuni culture of the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, acting as ambassadors for the community by portraying and preserving cultural traditions for future generations.

Pat Johnson, Community Activist and Organizer from Pocahontas, Arkansas
When Pat Johnson retired from a life of public service, she began working full-time as a community activist and creating a place for her community to gather, connect, and honor local African American history, traditions, and culture.

Johnson is the 2024 recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship, presented in recognition of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.

Watch National Heritage Fellow tributes

Starting in 2017, the NEA and the NCTA have worked with the Fellows, state arts agencies, folklorists and filmmakers to create short, documentary-style videos showcasing the artistry of each Fellow, their home community, and their traditions. These beautifully told tributes shine a light on the nation’s preeminent master artists and the diverse cultural communities they represent.

2017-present NEA National Heritage Fellow tributes

Watch recent National Heritage Fellowships Concerts & Film

For over 30 years, the NCTA has worked with the NEA 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. From 2020-2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert was re-imagined as a film, taking viewers across the country, visiting with each Fellow in their home communities. 2023 saw the return of an in-person gathering with a special public presentation as well as the award ceremony and banquet.

2010-present NEA National Heritage Fellowships concerts and films

Listen to the latest from National Heritage Fellows

American Routes public radio series semi-annually airs programs highlighting recent National Heritage Fellows. Tune in on Thanksgiving and Memorial Day for these special programs. For the latest, click here.

NEA’s podcasts featuring National Heritage Fellows explore the honorees and their distinct art forms through one-on-one interviews.

Explore the interactive Masters of Tradition map

Masters of Tradition: A Cultural Journey Across America is an interactive story map and multimedia library from Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage showcasing the lives and works of National Heritage Fellows. Launching on September 16, this online resource documents and celebrates the rich cultural diversity of the United States.

“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