Deadline for Nominating Traditional Artists for N.C. Heritage Award is May 1

Raleigh, N.C., March 1, 2017 — Nominations are open for the North Carolina Heritage Award, the state’s highest honor for traditional artists, until Monday, May 1.

Craft, music and storytelling artists, who help preserve North Carolina’s unique folkways through the traditional arts of their communities, may be nominated for the award.

The North Carolina Heritage Award, a program of the N.C. Arts Council, honors active traditional artists; recognizes artistic excellence in a traditional art; celebrates contributions to communities; and promotes North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

Maceo Parker

The N.C. Arts Council will celebrate its 50th anniversary starting this summer and the birthday festivities will culminate with the presentation of the North Carolina Heritage Awards at a ceremony to be held in Raleigh in May 2018.

Masters of traditions such as string band, gospel, balladry and blues music; master storytellers; and experts in craft traditions that include pottery, basketry, blacksmithing, weaving, boatbuilding and carving, among others, have been recognized with Heritage Awards.

Criteria for selection include authenticity, current and past record of excellence and significance of the work within the context of the nominees’ specific cultural tradition. Recognizing the importance of passing North Carolina’s traditional arts to present and future generations, this year priority will be given to those nominees who actively impart their traditions to young practitioners. 

The Heritage Award ceremony and concert in the spring of 2018 will feature performances and demonstrations involving both Heritage Award recipients and their students.

The recipients for 2016 included: ballad singer Sheila Kay Adams; boat builders Houston, Jamie and James Lewis; Montagnard Dega weavers H Ju Nie and H Ngach Rahlan; saxophone legend Maceo Parker; and Marc Pruett, a banjo player and member of Balsam Range.

The North Carolina Heritage Award has honored 133 artists since 1989. Many Heritage Award recipients have also gained national and international attention. Arthel “Doc” Watson, Earl Scruggs, Etta Baker, Ray Hicks and twelve others have received National Heritage Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Watch videos of 2016 recipients here.

Read profiles of previous Heritage Award recipients here.

To nominate a traditional artist in your community, please review the nomination packet or visit

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit