NATIONAL HERITAGE FELLOWSHIPS

This year this highest honor is well represented by performers on the festival stages including Tsering Wangmo Satho (2022) of Chaksampa and Edwin Colon Zaya (2009). A program that features a video of Tsering Wangmo Satho’s recognition among others can be viewed here (about 45 minutes in) https://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage. The National Heritage Fellowships are the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. The Arts Endowment has awarded 477 National Heritage Fellowships since 1982, recognizing artists working in more than 200 distinct art forms, including bluegrass fiddler Michael Cleveland, Japanese classical dancer Gertrude Yukie Tsutsumi, Haudenosaunee raised beadworker Karen Ann Hoffman (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin), oud player and composer Rahim AlHaj, and radio producer and radio network builder Hugo N. Morales. Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their own communities, and then judged by a panel of experts in the folk and traditional arts. The panel’s recommendations are reviewed by the National Council on the Arts, which sends its recommendations to the chair of the NEA, who makes the final decision.

About the National Endowment for the Arts Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more than 40 years, the NEA has annually presented lifetime honors in recognition of the diverse cultural traditions that comprise our nation and the individuals whose dedication and artistry contribute to their preservation and growth. Each fellowship includes a $25,000 award. “National Heritage Fellows exemplify what it means to live an artful life,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Their rich and diverse art forms connect us to the past, strengthen our communities today, and give hope to future generations in ways that only the arts can. Our nation is strengthened through their meaningful practices, expressions, and preservation of traditional artistry.” These national honors provide an added dimension to the rare performances that attendees will enjoy at this year’s Montana Folk Festival.