The Ohio Heritage Fellowship recognizes the creative, expressive work of traditional artists throughout the state. Since 2003, the Ohio Arts Council has awarded this fellowship to an individual or community organization. The Ohio Arts Council describes the fellowship on their website:
“The Ohio Heritage Fellowship program recognizes Ohio folk and traditional artists who are the finest and most influential masters of their particular art forms and traditions and whose work in the folk and traditional arts have had a significant impact on the people and communities of the state. Awards are given in three categories: Performing Arts, Material Culture (folk art, folk crafts, folk architecture) and Community Leadership. The OAC expects awardees to adhere to cultural artistic traditions and work in order to maintain the aesthetics and preservation of their art form, in the process contributing to the public visibility of the folk and traditional arts; be actively participating in their art form as a practitioner, a mentor, teacher or community leader; and be creating work of depth and brilliance that deepens our awareness of the rich and diverse cultural and artistic traditions of the people of Ohio.”
In 2019, a PBS subsidiary in Dayton (ThinkTV) produced Traditions: Ohio Heritage Fellows, which are short documentaries about previous Ohio Heritage Fellowship recipients. In producing these episodes, teams from ThinkTV collected hours of interviews, dozens of audio files, and hundreds of images from twenty-one Ohio Heritage Fellows. This material has now been added to the digital collections at the OSU Folklore Archive.
The Ohio Heritage Fellows collection contains images, audio, and video gathered during the production of Traditions. This material is stored on a hard drive, which also contains some items submitted as part of the nomination process. On the page of each artist, you will find a brief introduction to their craft, a link to the Traditions episode featuring the artist, and an overview of the digital material stored in the archives. When available, links to personal websites are provided. Although the collection differs for each artist, it contains video interviews, video performances/demonstrations, interview transcripts, images of family/friends, newspaper articles, and other assorted items. This website will be annually updated to include future Ohio Heritage Fellows.
Finding Aid: The Finding Aid provides a complete, itemized overview of the Ohio Heritage Fellows collection. This Excel spreadsheet is organized according to the folders on the hard drive, so material relevant to a single artist might appear in multiple locations.
Ohio Arts Council: The Ohio Arts Council provides educational and economic support to local artists. Since 1965, the Council has served as an important community partner for artists in all 88 counties of the state.
Ohio Heritage Fellows Collection on the American Archive of Public Broadcasting website.
ThinkTV: A local PBS production company in Dayton, Ohio, ThinkTV offers informative programs about Ohio communities, arts, and history.
Traditions: A series of short documentaries, these episodes follow the life and artistic career of the Ohio Heritage Fellows.
The Ohio Heritage Fellows Collection at the Folklore Archives is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.