To honor and preserve our nation’s diverse cultural heritage, the National Endowment for the Arts annually awards up to nine NEA National Heritage Fellowships to master folk and traditional artists. These fellowships recognize artistic excellence, lifetime achievement, and contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage. 2018 recipients were announced last month. The NEA is now accepting nominations for their 2019 Fellows.

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.

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.

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 an NEA lifetime honor award (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.

Step 1: Submit Online Nomination through NEA Website

Submit by July 30, 2018 by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time

Step 2: Submit Nomination Work Samples to NEA’s Applicant Portal

Submit by August 2, 2018 to August 6, 2018 by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time

Announcement of Fellowship Award

Summer of 2019

Nominations are accepted by using an online nomination form. Each nomination should have a separate nomination package.

To learn more about the nomination requirements, visit

Banner Photos: Ofelia Esparza, Chicana altarista from Los Angeles, CA, and 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellow. 2016 Dia de los Muertos Community Altar at Grand Park designed by Ofelia Esparza, photo by Denise Kang. Photos courtesy of Craft in America.