National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellowship Recipients
Award is nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts
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Washington, DC – A bluegrass guitarist, sweetgrass basketweaver, and Ghanaian drum master are among this year's NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipients, announced today by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman. This award is the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts and each of the nine recipients will receive a one-time award of $25,000. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships public programs are made possible through the support of the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation and Darden's family of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons 52 restaurants.
Representing eight states, the nine recipients were chosen for their artistic excellence and their efforts to conserve America's cultures for future generations. They come from a cross-section of ethnic cultures including Ghanaian, Irish, and Indian, and practice such diverse traditional art forms as Afro-Cuban drum building and Texas-style fiddling, as well as two art forms never before honored through the National Heritage Fellowships: lauhala (palm leaf) weaving and Bharatanatyam Indian dancing.
Chairman Landesman said, "On behalf of the NEA, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to this group of stellar artists and thank them for all they have accomplished and shared with us in the course of their careers. Their works of art have delighted and challenged us, illuminated our sense of the world, and refreshed our understanding of what is possible."
"The National Heritage Fellowships are a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate and draw attention to the many cultural traditions and artistic genres that are alive and thriving in the United States," said Barry Bergey, NEA director of Folk and Traditional Arts. "This year's awardees have dedicated many hours of their lives to not only perfecting their art forms, but also ensuring they will endure for generations to come."
The National Heritage Fellowships awards were announced in conjunction with the announcement of the NEA Jazz Masters and NEA Opera Honors recipients. Please go to arts.gov for the list of these recipients.
The 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellowship recipients are:
Judith McCulloh, a folkorist and editor from Urbana, Illinois, is the recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes NEA National Heritage Fellowships award. The Bess Lomax Hawes Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.
Profiles of the artists are available in the Lifetime Honors section of the NEA's Web site.
High resolution photos are available: please call 202-682-5570.
In addition to practicing their art, each of these fellows also has a proven commitment to education and training; for example, Ezequiel Torres has trained young musicians in his art form through Florida's Folklife Apprenticeship programs, Kamala Lakshmi Narayanan has taught in the New York and New Jersey area for the past 30 years through her school the Sri Bharata Kamalalaya School of Dance, and Gladys Kukana Grace has taken an art form that is traditionally a closely-guarded family secret and shared it with anyone who wants to learn.
The 2010 honorees join the ranks of previous Heritage Fellows, including bluesman B.B. King, Cajun fiddler and composer Michael Doucet, cowboy poet Wally McRae, gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples, and bluegrass musician Bill Monroe. Since 1982, the Endowment has awarded 358 NEA National Heritage Fellowships. Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their own communities, and then judged by a panel of experts in folk and traditional arts on the basis of their continuing artistic accomplishments and contributions as practitioners and teachers. This year a 10-member panel reviewed 217 nominations for the nine fellowships. The ratio of winners to nominees indicates the select nature of this national honor.
The 2010 awardees will come to Washington, D.C. in September for a series of events including an awards presentation and banquet at the Library of Congress, as well as a concert scheduled for Friday, September 24, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland.
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The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal