National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2018 National Heritage Fellows

Master Folk and Traditional Artists Celebrated at Free Events in September
Headshots of nine individuals with next saying 2018 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships

Photo credits clockwise from top left: Barbara Lynn (photo by Keisha Sims), Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (photo by Jen Dougherty), Manuel Cuevas (photo by Yuri Figueroa), Ethel Raim (photo by Mauricio Bayona, Center for Traditional Music and Dance), Ofelia Esparza (photo courtesy of Craft in America, photo by Mark Markley), Marion Coleman (photo by Nyls Jongewaard), Don and Cindy Roy (photo by Molly Haley), Eddie Bond (photo by Susi Lawson Photography), Kelly Church (photo by Richard Church, Ottawa and Pottawatomi).

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Washington, DC— Today the National Endowment for the Arts is announcing the newest recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, who range from an old-time fiddler to a Day of the Dead altar maker to an R&B musician. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships, awarded annually by the National Endowment for the Arts, highlight the breadth and excellence of the artistic traditions found in communities all across the United States. The 2018 recipients will receive a $25,000 award and be honored in Washington, DC at an awards ceremony on September 26, 2018 and at a free concert on September 28, 2018. The concert will be streamed live at

The 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows are:

  • Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (Milwaukie, OR)—Palestinian embroiderer
  • Eddie Bond (Fries, VA)—Appalachian old-time fiddler
  • Kelly Church (Allegan, MI)—Anishinabe (Gun Lake Band) black ash basketmaker
  • Marion Coleman (Castro Valley, CA)—African-American quilter
  • Manuel Cuevas (Nashville, TN)—rodeo tailor
  • Ofelia Esparza (Los Angeles, CA)—Chicana altarista (Day of the Dead altar maker)
  • Barbara Lynn (Beaumont, TX)—R&B musician
  • Don & Cindy Roy (Gorham, ME)—Franco-American musicians
  • Ethel Raim (New York, NY)—traditional music and dance advocate
    Raim is the recipient of the 2018 Bess Lomax Hawes NEA National Heritage Fellowship in recognition of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the preservation and awareness of cultural heritage.

“The 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows have dedicated their lives to mastering these distinctive art forms and sharing them with new audiences both within their communities and nationwide,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. “We look forward to celebrating them and their incredible artistic accomplishments this fall.”

In addition to their artistic value, each of the Heritage Fellows’ art forms also reflects the community they come from and the history of the tradition, whether it’s a material art form—such as Manuel’s iconic suits and the patterns of Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim’s embroidery—or a musical art form—such as Don and Cindy Roy’s Franco-American music. These artistic traditions and the stories behind them will be shared at two events in Washington, DC, both of which are free and open to the public.

  • The NEA National Heritage Fellowships Awards Ceremony will take place at the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First Street SE in Washington, DC on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.
  • The NEA National Heritage Fellowships Concert will take place at Sidney Harman Hall at 610 F Street NW in Washington, DC on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. The concert will also be webcast live at More concert details and ticket information will be available later this summer.

About the NEA National Heritage Fellowships
The National Heritage Fellowships—the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts—recognize the recipients' artistic excellence and support their continuing contributions to our nation's traditional arts heritage. Including the 2018 class, the NEA has awarded 431 NEA National Heritage Fellowships, recognizing artists working in more than 200 distinct art forms, such as bluesman B.B. King, Cajun fiddler and composer Michael Doucet, sweetgrass basketweaver Mary Jackson, cowboy poet Wally McRae, Kathak dancer and choreographer Chitresh Das, and gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples. More information about the NEA National Heritage Fellows is available on the NEA’s website.

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 NEA chairman, who makes the final decision. The NEA is currently accepting nominations for the 2019 class of NEA National Heritage Fellowships. The deadline is July 30, 2018. Visit the NEA's website for more information and to submit a nomination.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA 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 NEA 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. Visit to learn more about NEA.

Related Content


Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim

2018 National Heritage Fellow Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim is an embroiderer whose journey as an artist started in her birthplace of Safad, and she is dedicated to teaching and mentoring younger generations.

Eddie Bond

Old-time fiddling thrives in Grayson County, Virginia, and it is from here that one of the greatest living old-time fiddlers, 2018 National Heritage Fellow Eddie Bond, hails.

Kelly Church

2018 National Heritage Fellow Kelly Church is Ottawa/Pottawatomi, descended from the Gun Lake and Grand Traverse Bands, is preserving the traditional Anishinabe process of creating a black ash basket.


Liz Auclair, 202-682-5744,