It’s time to honor stewards of S.C.’s folklife and traditional arts

Nominations sought for Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina want to honor exceptional practitioners and advocates working in the Palmetto State’s folklife and traditional arts.

Eligible artists and advocates fitting those descriptions can now be nominated for the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1987 to recognize lifetime achievement in the traditional arts, the Folk Heritage Award is presented annually by the General Assembly to honor the work of stewarding and furthering the traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. The South Carolina Arts Commission and UofSC’s McKissick Museum jointly manage the awards.

Up to four artists and one advocate may receive awards each year. Nominations are accepted in two categories:

  • Artists: South Carolina artists who have dedicated their lives to the practice of art forms that have been passed down through their families and communities and who have demonstrated a commitment to keeping their tradition alive. Past awards have recognized art forms such as basket making, gospel singing, bluegrass and old-time fiddling, hammock making and boat building, among many others.
  • Advocates: South Carolina individuals and groups who have worked to further traditional culture in the state. Those who are not traditional artists, but who have provided service that helps to sustain and promote South Carolina traditions, are eligible for the advocacy award.

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Before submitting a nomination, you are strongly advised to contact Program Specialist for Community Arts & Folklife Dr. Laura Marcus Green to determine whether your nominee is eligible: or 803.734.8764. For program guidelines and nomination instructions for the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, visit

The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, along with the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, will be presented at the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony in the spring. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the first virtual South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony, which occurred in July rather than May. A decision on how and when the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards will be presented is to be announced at a later date.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians.

Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:

  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit or call 803.734.8696.

About McKissick Museum

The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum, located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe, has more than 140,000 objects in its collection, including one of the most extensive natural science collections in the Southeast. For visitation information, online exhibits, and more, please visit