Application dates

  • DUE:  Midnight of Friday, May 3, 2024


The North Carolina Heritage Award has honored over 140 artists since 1989. Many North Carolina Heritage Award recipients have also gained national and international attention and received National Heritage Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. N.C. Heritage Award recipients will receive a cash award (or a portion thereof in the case of a group award) and special recognition at a public ceremony held in Raleigh in Spring, 2025.

A list of past Heritage Award recipients.

What is traditional art? 
The traditional arts emerge from community life and pass from generation to generation, reflecting shared meanings and embodying community standards of excellence. Heritage Award recipients include masters of such traditions 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.

How award recipients are chosen

Nominations will be reviewed by a selection panel that will forward its recommendations to the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for confirmation.

Selection Criteria

  • Authenticity
  • Current and past record of excellence
  • Significance of nominees within the context of their particular cultural tradition
  • Current availability

Making a nomination

Anyone can nominate a traditional artist—or group of artists—for a N.C. Heritage Award.

  • Discuss nomination plans with N.C. Arts Council Folklife Specialist Zoe van Buren at (919) 814-6518 or
  • Complete the nomination form in GO Smart. However, if you would like to submit your nomination through email or post, please notify Folklife staff.
  • Provide a narrative description of the traditional artist you wish to nominate.
  • Provide support materials.

Nominations that are not selected will be kept on file at the Folklife Program and will be reconsidered for up to three award cycles.

Nomination checklist

  1. Nomination form
  2. Narrative description of nominee and art form
  3. Work samples
  4. Letters of support

1. Starting your nomination

  • Create a profile under your name in GO Smart. Don’t forget to save your password so that you can return to your application! In GO Smart, click “Current Programs and Applications” and scroll down until you see “North Carolina Heritage Award Nomination Form 2024-25.” Click “START” to begin your application.
  • For the nominator, please fill in YOUR name and contact information. For the nominee, please provide the full name of the artist you wish to nominate and all available contact information.
  • Choose a category from the discipline code that best describes the nominee.
  • Choose a category from the racial or ethnic list that best describes the nominee.
  • Online communications assistance checkbox: Check this box if you are able to assist your nominee with digital forms (e.g. contracts, W9 forms) if they are selected to receive the award.

If you have previously submitted a nomination, your nomination is active for three consecutive cycles before it must be re-submitted. Existing nominations will be available for updates and edits in GO Smart. If no edits are made, they will be included in the upcoming selection process as-is. Contact Folklife Director Zoe van Buren if you need assistance accessing an existing nomination.

2. Nomination narrative

  • Describe the artist’s contributions to their particular artistic tradition and explain why this individual or group deserves statewide recognition.
  • Describe the artist’s impact within their community.
  • Explain the importance of this artistic tradition to the artist’s community.
  • Include a short biography and, if appropriate, a list of appearances at special events, exhibitions, or other noteworthy forms of recognition. Use additional upload fields for supporting narrative documents if necessary.

3. Samples of artist's work 

Please submit one or more from the following list:

  • Images: Use the upload fields in GO Smart to provide image work samples, with descriptions.
  • Video: Upload the Web Link Collection Form to your GO Smart application to provide links to videos online, along with time markers and descriptions. The form provides three blank fields but applicants may expand the form to include as many links as needed. Videos must be submitted as URL weblinks. Folklife staff can assist you in uploading video files to an online platform if needed. 
  • Publications: Submit copies of articles, catalogs, program books, and other publications that include substantive information on the artist’s life and work.
  • Audio recordings: Please upload audio files to the Media Library in GO Smart and then attach them to your application within the Media Library. If your audio files are too large to upload, provide a filesharing link to access the files in the Web Link Collection Form.

File Uploads:

  • Maximum image size is 1000x1000px.
  • Maximum PDF/doc size is 10MB.
  • Accepted file types: .txt .pdf .doc .docx .xls .xlsx .jpeg .png

If you need assistance with uploading work samples, or need to provide work samples through email or mail, please contact Folklife Director Zoe van Buren for assistance or mailing instructions at or (919) 814-6518.

Support material cannot be returned except in the most special circumstances. Please do not submit the only copy of materials such as sound recordings, photographs, or slides.

4. Letters of support 

Nominators should submit no more than ten letters of support from individuals knowledgeable about the nominee’s particular artistic tradition and/or the artist’s contributions to the community through this tradition. Letters of support may be uploaded within the application or emailed to

Staff contact

Zoe van Buren 
Folklife Director 
(919) 814-6518

Grant Application Assistance 
North Carolina Arts Council staff are here to assist with grant applications. Visit our application assistance page for resources and grants staff contact information. 

For accessibility questions or accommodation requests, please contact the North Carolina Arts Council's Music and Dance Director, Accessibility Coordinator Jamie Katz Court at or (919) 814-6502.