Governor Roy Cooper announced today that six traditional artists from across the state will receive North Carolina Heritage Awards on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, for their contributions to our state’s cultural vitality.
The 2023 North Carolina Arts Council Heritage Award recipients are muralist Cornelio Campos, white oak basket maker Neal Thomas, Southern gospel and bluegrass musician Rhonda Gouge, champion old-time fiddler Richard Bowman, and Cherokee white-oak basket maker Louise Goings and her husband, the carver Butch Goings. Recipients are nominated by their communities and selected through a panel process.
Since 1989, the Heritage Awards have recognized people who have contributed significantly to cultural life in their communities, have made a significant contribution through innovation or teaching, or are among a very few to perpetuate a tradition. The first awards were given in 1989. Thirty-three years later, students and children of earlier recipients are being recognized. Rhonda Gouge was deeply influenced by her neighbor Oscar “Red” Wilson, a fiddle and banjo player who received the award in 2003. Louise Goings is the first descendant of a prior Heritage Award recipient to receive an award. Her mother, Emma Taylor, also a basket maker, received the award in 1989.
“North Carolina’s traditional arts continue to reflect a unique sense of place and lived experiences of our diverse people,” Governor Cooper said. “I congratulate the 2023 recipients of the Heritage Award for their individual artistic accomplishments and for their commitments to the cultural life of our communities small and large, rural and urban.”
“The Heritage Awards are an opportunity to celebrate exceptional people who keep and nurture traditional creative practice, but through them, we also honor the cultural contributions of their entire communities,” said Zoe van Buren, the Arts Council’s Folklife director. “With each new cohort, we can witness the changing seasons of our state’s dynamic cultural life, see traditions emerge and adapt, and learn how North Carolinians use the arts to know who we are, where we came from, and where we are going.”
“It is an honor for the North Carolina Arts Council to be able to recognize extraordinary artists from across our state and document their unique skill sets and cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations,” said Jeff Bell, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council. “This group of Heritage Award recipients tells a remarkable story of the diversity of North Carolina's cultural heritage.”
The 2023 Heritage Awards ceremony will feature performances and demonstrations by each recipient. PineCone, the Piedmont Council on Traditional Music, will partner with the Arts Council to produce the ceremony as part of its Down Home concert series.
Tickets are on sale for the event now at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, in downtown Raleigh. Ticket prices range from $18-$45, plus tax. Discounts for 10 or more tickets are available. Call (919) 664-8302 or visit https://pinecone.org/event/2023-north-carolina-heritage-awards/.
Information about the 2023 N.C. Heritage Award recipients is available at ncarts.org. Van Buren will also host a new season of the Arts Council’s podcast, Arts Across NC, which will feature intimate conversations with each recipient and reflections on the history of the Heritage Awards with past Folklife directors Sally Peterson and Wayne Martin.
The biennial awards were last announced in 2018, but because of the pandemic, were postponed several cycles.
“The 2023 Heritage Awards will be our first since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” van Buren said. “As we re-introduce this wonderful event, we have a chance to look back on its impact and that of the North Carolinians it has honored over the years.”
About the North Carolina Arts Council
The North Carolina Arts Council builds on our state’s long-standing love of the arts, leading the way to a more vibrant future. The Arts Council is an economic catalyst, fueling a thriving nonprofit creative sector that generates $2.12 billion in annual direct economic activity. The Arts Council also sustains diverse arts expression and traditions while investing in innovative approaches to art-making. The North Carolina Arts Council has proven to be a champion for youth by cultivating tomorrow’s creative citizens through arts education. NCArts.org
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, three science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 41 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the N.C. Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, and the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please visit www.ncdcr.gov.