National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2024 NEA National Heritage Fellows

Washington, DC—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today this year’s NEA National Heritage Fellows, recipients of our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Every year since 1982, the NEA has presented this lifetime honor in recognition of individuals whose dedication and artistry contribute to the preservation and growth of the diverse cultural traditions that comprise our nation. Each fellowship includes a $25,000 award and the recipients will be honored in Washington, DC in fall 2024.

“I am honored to announce the ten gifted recipients that have been named 2024 NEA National Heritage Fellows,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Through their dedication to and generous stewardship of their traditions and cultures, these artists and culture bearers carry forward their knowledge and passion to future generations. They offer us the opportunity to see things from different perspectives, help us make sense of the world, and celebrate our rich collective heritage comprised of our diverse lived experiences.”

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The 2024 NEA National Heritage Fellows are:

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.

Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their own communities, and then judged by a panel of experts in the folk and traditional arts. The panel’s recommendations are reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which sends its recommendations to the NEA chair, who makes the final decision. The deadline to submit a nomination for the 2025 class of NEA National Heritage Fellows is Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Visit the National Endowment for the Arts website for more information and to submit a nomination.

About the National Heritage Fellowships

The National Heritage Fellowships are the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Including the 2024 class, the Arts Endowment has awarded 487 National Heritage Fellowships since 1982, recognizing artists working in more than 200 distinct art forms, including bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland, kapa maker Roen Kahalewai Hufford (Hawaiian), gospel artists the Legendary Ingramettes, oud player and composer Rahim AlHaj, master shipwright Harold A. Burnham, and radio producer and radio network builder Hugo N. Morales. More information about the National Heritage Fellows is available on the Arts Endowment’s website.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. To learn more, visit arts.gov or follow us on X, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

 

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