National Endowment for the Arts Celebrates Silver Anniversary of NEA National Heritage Fellowship Program
Exhibitions, concerts, and DVD release among the events
June 21, 2007
Washington, D.C. - To mark the silver anniversary of its NEA National Heritage Fellowship program, the National Endowment for the Arts will present a photo exhibit, release a publication and companion DVD, and co-sponsor a concert on the National Mall. A special feature of that concert will be the announcement of the 2007 class of NEA National Heritage Fellows by Chairman Dana Gioia. The exhibit, publication, DVD, and concert are free to the public. Their release inaugurates a year of activities celebrating the master artists who have received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship. The fellowship program is presented with support from the Darden Restaurants Foundation.
"As anniversaries are occasions for reflection," said Chairman Gioia, "the 25th anniversary of the NEA's National Heritage Fellowship program, renews our appreciation for the aesthetic power and cultural significance of the Fellows' work. The masters have drawn from their traditions to contribute generously to our nation's artistic heritage. The exhibits and materials the NEA is producing will significantly increase access to their work for thousands of people. I'm also pleased to partner with the Darden Restaurants Foundation whose generous support of the program will enhance the recognition and appreciation of these artists."
"Promoting cultural diversity through the arts is one of the many ways we work to make a positive difference in the communities where we operate," said Clarence Otis, Chairman and CEO of Darden Restaurants. "We are proud to partner with such a dynamic organization as the NEA and support the NEA National Heritage Fellowship program to recognize the work of these master artists."
The portrait exhibit, Living Legacies: Portraits of the NEA National Heritage Fellows, 1982-2007, will be on display June 25 – June 29 in the elegant and historic rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building and is sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy, Michael Enzi, and Norm Coleman. The rotunda is located immediately through the building's front entrance at Constitution Ave. and C Street NE. It is open to the public from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
The exhibit features images of 38 master artists in their home, studio, or the site that most vividly reflected the essence of their artwork. The portraits are among 87 portraits taken by photographer Tom Pich over the course of 16 years when he traveled to communities large and small, to capture these unique images. A sample of those portraits can be viewed at http://www.arts.gov/honors/heritage/.
On Friday, June 29 at 6:00 P.M., the NEA in partnership with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, will host a concert of NEA National Heritage Fellows at the Folklife Festival's Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert. Each year, the concert honors an artist, this year saluting Bess Lomax Hawes. Ms. Hawes is an influential advocate, educator, and producer as well as the first director of the folk and traditional arts program at the Arts Endowment, leading the program from 1977-1993. Ms. Hawes also created the NEA National Heritage Fellowship program in 1982. Heritage Fellows performing that evening include John Cephas, Piedmont blues musician, Liz Carroll, Irish fiddler, and Michael Doucet, Cajun fiddler and leader of Beausoleil.
The book, National Heritage Fellowships, 1982-2007, and companion DVD will be available free at the concert. These are exceptionally rich resources for teachers, researchers, and anyone interested in the folk and traditional arts. The DVD features the 316 NEA National Heritage Fellows honored since the program's inception in 1982. In addition to the artists' bios, the DVD contains 3,785 photos, 1,349 interview and music segments, and 401 video clips. It is produced by Documentary Arts. Based in Dallas Texas, Documentary Arts seeks to present new perspectives on historical issues and broaden appreciation of the arts of different cultures.
Other 25th anniversary events include:
The NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the highest form of national recognition bestowed on folk and traditional artists, recognizes lifetime achievement, artistic excellence, and contributions to our nation's traditional arts heritage. Since 1982, 316 master folk and traditional artists have been so honored. The artists come from all over the country and from many ethnic backgrounds ranging from Native American to Scandinavian, from Vietnamese to Mexican. Their artistic forms vary from rug weaving, basketmaking, Cajun fiddling, and boatbuilding to storytelling, blacksmithing, and gospel singing.
The roster of Fellows features artists such as bluesman B.B. King, cowboy poet Wally McRae, gospel singer Shirley Caesar, Appalachian guitar player and singer Doc Watson, and bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. In addition to what is now a $20,000 award, the fellowship includes a week of events in Washington, D.C. each September.
Darden Restaurants Inc. of Orlando, Florida is the world's largest casual dining company in sales and market share. The Darden Restaurants Foundation is a private, not-for-profit entity committed to funding an array of philanthropic programs including those focused on arts and culture, and education. The employees of Darden's Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other restaurants are actively involved in local programs in the communities in which they live and work.
For more information, please contact the communications office of the National Endowment for the Arts at 202-682-5692 or visit the agency web site at www.arts.gov
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency