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NEA National Heritage Fellowships

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NEA National Heritage Fellowships


Make a NominationTo honor and preserve our nation’s diverse cultural heritage, the National Endowment for the Arts annually awards up to nine National Heritage Fellowships to master folk and traditional artists (inclusive of one Bess Lomax Hawes Fellowship). These fellowships recognize artistic excellence, lifetime achievement, and contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage.

Nominees must be worthy of national recognition and have a record of continuing artistic accomplishment. They must be actively participating in their art form, either as practitioners or as teachers.

Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship
One NEA National Heritage Fellowship will be given to an individual who has made major contributions to the excellence, vitality, and public appreciation of the folk and traditional arts. The nominee should be worthy of national recognition and must be actively engaged in perpetuating the folk and traditional arts. Named after the influential advocate, educator, and producer of the folk and traditional arts, Bess Lomax Hawes, this award recognizes:

An artist whose contributions, primarily through teaching, advocacy, organizing, and maintaining important repertoires, have greatly benefited their artistic tradition.


An individual such as a producer or advocate whose efforts have significantly increased opportunities for and public visibility of traditional arts and artists.
Individuals may be nominated specifically for the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship, and all nominees will be considered for this award.

What are the Folk & Traditional Arts?
The folk and traditional arts, which include crafts, dance, music, oral traditions, visual arts, and others, are those that are learned as part of the cultural life of a community whose members share a common ethnic heritage, cultural mores, 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.


If you would like to update a nomination submitted within the past four years, DO NOT use the online nomination form. Instead, please contact Folk & Traditional Arts Specialist Cheryl Schiele at schielec@arts.gov for instructions.

Nomination Requirements
Awards will be up to $25,000 and may be received once in a lifetime.

Recipients will be selected on the basis of nominations from the public. Nominations may be for an individual or for a group of individuals (e.g., a duo or ensemble, but not an incorporated organization). A nominator may submit one or more nomination(s) in each round of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships and no one may nominate him/herself. Nominees must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

Individuals who have previously received a lifetime honor award from the National Endowment for the Arts (National Heritage Fellowship, Jazz Masters Fellowship, or an Opera Honor) are not eligible. Posthumous nominations or awards will not be considered. No payment will be made to the estate or heirs of a deceased recipient.