North Carolina Heritage Award Guidelines

The North Carolina Heritage Award honors active traditional artists, recognizes artistic excellence in traditional art, celebrates contributions to communities, and promotes North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

About the North Carolina Heritage Award

The North Carolina Heritage Award has honored over 130 artists since 1989. Many North Carolina 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. 

Recipients the award will receive a cash award (or a portion thereof in the case of a group award) and special recognition in an awards ceremony held in Raleigh.

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

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 North Carolina Heritage Award.

  • Discuss nomination plans with N.C. Arts Council Folklife Director Zoe van Buren at (919) 814-6518 or
  • Complete the nomination form (click on the link below)
  • Provide a narrative description of the traditional artist you wish to nominate
  • Provide support materials

Guidelines for Making a Nomination

Nomination form (Click on this link for the nomination form)

  • Fill in the blanks as instructed. For nominee, please provide the full name of the artist you wish to nominate.
  • Provide all available contact information for the nominee and for you.
  • Leave the status code and the institution code at 01.
  • 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.
  • For nominator, please fill in YOUR name and contact information.
  • Digital assistance checkbox: Please check this box if you are able to assist your nominee with digital forms (contracts, W-9s, brief reports) if they are selected as award recipients.
  • Sign and date the form.
  • Artist Narrative: Please attach a separate file of no more than three pages describing the nominee.
    • Describe the artist’s contributions to his or her particular artistic tradition and explain why this individual or group deserves statewide recognition.
    • Describe the artist’s impact within his or her 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 pages for the list if necessary. 

Samples of Artist’s Work

On a separate page, describe the work samples accompanying this application. Please submit one or more of the following, clearly labeled with artist’s name and date of recording (check with the Folklife Program to ensure that your digital formats are acceptable):

Submit no more than ten labeled digital images. Jpegs and accompanying labels may be submitted by email to

Audio Recordings
Submit standard digital audio files on a compact disc or DVD. Small files can be sent through email, or use Dropbox.

Submit video in a digital format on a DVD or provide links to You Tube, Vimeo, or other internet source. Whenever possible, video is best sent on a CD or YouTube link. DVDs cannot be transferred onto a computer to be made available to the panelists, and may need to be copied and mailed in order to be viewed.

Submit copies of articles, catalogs, program books, and other publications that include substantive information on the artist’s life and work. These may also be scanned and submitted on a compact disc or through email.

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.

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 may accompany the nomination or be sent separately to the address below or emailed to

Submitting a Nomination

Please download and complete the nomination form and send to Folklife Staff via email or mail. If you mail your nomination materials, please specify the name of the nominee. Please use paperclips to organize material; no staples, notebooks, or plastic sleeves that may interfere with the duplication process. Reduce support materials to 8”x11”. Nominations that are not selected will be kept on file at the Folklife Program and will be reconsidered for the next award cycle.

Please email materials to


Please mail materials to  

Zoe Van Buren
N.C. Arts Council  
Department of Cultural Resources
Mail Service Center 4632
Raleigh, NC 27699-4632

For More Information

Call Zoe van Buren at (828) 250-3123 or email inquiries can be sent to

Nomination Checklist

  • Nomination form
  • Narrative description of nominee and art form
  • Work Samples
  • Support letters

Nomination form