NC Heritage AwardsPrevious recipients of the North Carolina Heritage Award Maceo Parker (left), and Sheila Kay Adams.

Nominations are open for the North Carolina Heritage Award, the state’s highest honor for traditional artists, until Friday, May 1.

Artists who are recognized within their communities as keepers of North Carolina’s living traditions may be nominated for the award. Past recipients have included musicians, craftspeople, storytellers, dancers, and practitioners of traditional occupations. The award has honored both professionally acclaimed artists and those who practice their art in family and community settings.

The North Carolina Heritage Award, a program of the N.C. Arts Council, honors active traditional artists; recognizes artistic excellence in a traditional art; celebrates contributions to communities; and promotes North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

Criteria for selection include authenticity, current and past record of excellence, and significance of the work within the context of the nominees’ specific cultural tradition.

The North Carolina Heritage Award has honored nearly 145 artists since 1989. Many Heritage Award recipients have also gained national and international attention. Arthel “Doc” Watson, Earl Scruggs, Etta Baker, Ray Hicks and twelve others have received National Heritage Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.