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Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards

This state-wide award is managed jointly by McKissick Museum and the Folklife and Traditional Arts Program of the South Carolina Arts Commission.

The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is a one-time, annual award presented by the South Carolina General Assembly to practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Up to four artists and one advocate may receive awards each year.

  • The award for traditional artists and arts organizations recognizes those who practice art forms that have been transmitted through their families and communities. These artists have demonstrated a commitment to sustaining their traditional art forms and have, in turn, used their art to benefit those around them.
  • The award for traditional arts advocates recognizes 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.

For the 2024 cycle

McKissick Museum will administer the 2024 Folk Heritage Award nomination process. The 2024 Folk Heritage Award nomination form [pdf] can be submitted via mail or email. Details are below.

More about the Folk Heritage Award

Nominations for the 2024 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards must be received by mail or email submission by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 5, 2023.

Please consider the following before submitting a nomination:

  • This award honors those who have spent a significant portion of their lives advocating for and/or creating traditional art forms significant to South Carolina.
  • Traditional arts are expressions of shared identity that are learned as a part of the cultural life of a particular group. 
    This shared identity may be rooted in family, geographic, tribal, occupational, religious or ethnic connections, among others. 
    As expressions of a living culture, traditional arts have been handed down from one generation to the next and reflect the shared experience, aesthetics and values of a group.
  • In general, artists should have learned the art informally and not through schools, classes, workshops, etc.
    -Nominees must be living at the time of their nomination.
    -Nominees must be practicing their art or advocating for a traditional art in the state of South Carolina.
  • Past Folk Heritage Award recipients are not eligible.
  • The art form for which the nominee is receiving recognition must be practiced currently in the cultural life of the community—whether that community be cultural, regional, tribal, occupational, religious, or other. Nominees practicing remnants of the past that are no longer practiced in contemporary life will not be considered for this award.

Nominations are valid for four years from the time of their original submission. Applications may be updated and edited before each new selection period, and support materials may be carried over from year to year. Although the nominations may be valid beyond their original submission, we ask that if you are interested in having your nomination considered beyond the year of its original submission, please contact Folklife Program Director Amanda Malloy at 803-777-7707 or This will ensure that your nomination is considered in subsequent selection processes.

For further information on the selection process, please see the award legislation document. 

These are the required materials for any nomination:

  1. Nomination Form
  2. Narrative
  3. Letters of Support & Letter of Support Contact List
  4. Support Materials

Nomination instructions can also be found here. 


This nomination form—submittable in hard copy or electronic form--gathers basic information about your nomination, including contact information for the nominee and nominator, as well as the nomination category (Traditional Artist, Traditional Arts Organization or Advocate). It also includes a place to provide the required Letter of Support Contact List and the List of Support Materials being submitted.


The narrative can be submitted in hard copy or electronic form as pdf, docx, or txt files. It should make the case for the nominee’s outstanding contributions to the traditional arts in South Carolina and how their work has enriched the lives of those in their community and across the state. Where possible, please use specific examples and anecdotes to demonstrate your points.

The narrative must be no more than two pages, with at least 12-point type and one-inch margins, and should address the following points:

If nominating a traditional artist:

  • Explain how the artist learned the traditional art form. For example, did the nominee learn this tradition through apprenticeships or an informal learning process, rather than through formal education? Provide details.
  • How long has the nominee practiced this tradition?
  • Does the art form practiced by the nominee have a history in their community?
  • Describe the significance of the traditional artist or organization in maintaining the traditional art or moving it to higher levels of artistic achievement.
  • Do others who practice this art form recognize the nominee as a master of this tradition? Please explain.
  • In addition to these questions, answer the questions in the “For all nominees” section below.

If nominating a traditional arts advocate:

  • Has the nominee raised the level of awareness about a particular tradition? Explain how.
  • Describe the advocate’s significance in supporting this South Carolina tradition and presenting it to a wide audience.
  • Is the nominee recognized for their support by members of the community in which the art is traditionally practiced? Please share information about this community and the nominee’s relationship to it.
  • In addition to these questions, please answer the questions from the “For all nominees” section below.

For all nominees:

  • Does the art form practiced or supported by the nominee have an historic connection to a South Carolina community? What is the significance of this tradition to the state’s cultural heritage?
  • What is the importance of the tradition to the community in which it is practiced?
  • Have others benefited in any way from the nominee’s skills or knowledge? Please provide details.

Be sure you answer the questions asked in this section!  If the requested information is not provided, the advisory committee will not be able to review the nomination.


You may provide up to 10 current letters supporting the nomination. Letters can be submitted in hard copy form or as electronic files in pdf, docx or txt formats. They should reinforce points in the narrative regarding the nominee’s knowledge, contributions, achievements, influence and community involvement, and should provide specific examples whenever possible.

Please use the Letter of Support Contact List in the Nomination Form to provide contact information for each person who has written a letter of support. If submitting electronic copies of Letters of Support, each letter must have a file name containing the letter writer’s name. For example, the files names might be Jones_letter, Smith_letter, etc.


Support materials should reinforce and expand on the information provided in the narrative and letters of support. A nominee cannot be evaluated without support materials.

If you have questions concerning this requirement, please contact Jane Przybysz (PRIZ-bee) at 803-777-7251 or well in advance of the deadline. Support materials may include, but are not limited to:

  • Audio recordings (may be submitted as audio files on a CD/DVD or thumb drive appropriately packaged and mailed to McKissick Museum OR uploaded to Dropbox);
  • Video recordings (may be submitted as audio files on a CD/DVD or thumb drive appropriately packaged and mailed to McKissick Museum OR uploaded to Dropbox);
  • Publications such as newspaper or magazine articles (may be submitted as a hard copy via the mail or uploaded as image files to Dropbox)
  • Photographs (may be actual photos mailed to McKissick Museum or digital image files in jpg format submitted on a cd or thumb drive and appropriately packaged and mailed to McKissick Museum OR uploaded to Dropbox)

Support Material Instructions

  • Do not submit Facebook or other social media links, as not all panelists who will review this material may have access to these platforms.
  • The advisory committee will review many nominations and may not have time to look at every piece of support material in its entirety. Please make sure that support materials are of high quality and brief, and that they convey their support of the nomination in a concise and effective way.
  • Please provide no more than 10 total pieces of support material. For example, one audio file, one video, one photograph, or one article would each be considered different pieces of support material. “Audio file” refers to one track or song, not an entire CD. You are encouraged to submit audio and/or video clips no longer than three minutes in length. If submitting longer work samples, please identify a brief excerpt that represents the nominee’s best, most relevant work and indicate the excerpt location in the recording (i.e. 3:02 to 5:20, etc.).
  • Each item of support material submitted digitally must have a file name containing the nominee’s name and a number corresponding with the Support Materials List in the nomination form. For example, the file names might be Smith_1, Smith_2, etc. Please refer to the “Support Materials” portion in the nomination form for details about the types of formats and the information required with your application.
  • Submitted materials (CD/DVD, thumb drive, or hard copy) will not be returned.

Nominations must be received by mail or electronically by 11:59pm ET Sunday, November 5, 2023.

Nominations sent by mail should be addressd to:

Amanda Malloy
McKissick Museum
University of South Carolina
816 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29208


Nominations sent electronically should be addressed to Amanda Malloy at with support materials submitted via Dropbox.

Emily Meggett
Artist, Gullah Geechee Chef | Edisto Island

Hampton Rembert 
Artist, Gospel Singing | Bishopville 

Read about the current recipients here. 






View additional past recipients here.


About Jean Laney Harris (1933-1997)

Portrait of Jean Laney Harris. A state representative for District No. 53 (Chesterfield-Marlboro County) until her death on Jan. 26, 1997, Jean Laney Harris was known and respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. During her 18 years in the House of Representatives, she was chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Cultural Affairs and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. She played a major role in the recognition of South Carolinians for their contributions to the arts with the Folk Heritage Awards and the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts. She was also a supporter of the expanded role of the Governor’s School for the Arts. Jean Laney Harris was always a strong advocate for the areas of education, arts, and cultural affairs.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.