Ohio Arts Council Awards Three 2017 Heritage Fellowships

Roy Adams, Linda Thomas Jones, and the Riley School of Irish Music Receive $5,000 Awards for Folk and Traditional Arts


COLUMBUS, Ohio – August 16, 2017

Although their specialties are steeped in centuries of tradition, the three recipients of the Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) 2017 Heritage Fellowships are passionate about advancing their artistry in today’s modern culture.

The Ohio Arts Council awards Ohio Heritage Fellowships in recognition of the significant impact an individual or group has had on the people and communities of the state through their work in the folk or traditional arts. 

Each year, Ohio Heritage Fellowships are given in one of three categories: Performing Arts, Material Culture, or Community Leadership.  In addition to a $5,000 award, each Heritage Fellow is recognized at a community event and award ceremony. 

This year, award recipients are Roy Adams of New Lebanon, Linda Thomas Jones of Cleveland, and the Riley School of Irish Music in Cincinnati. 

The cultural life of a community can be easily seen through the lens of these talented and creative artists who call Ohio home,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins. “Their constant desire to pass along the folk and traditional arts from one generation to the next allows communities throughout Ohio to be wonderful places to live, work, and enjoy the arts.

Biographies of the fellows follow:

Roy Adams
A superior craftsman who seeks community volunteer opportunities to share the art of blacksmithing, Adams began forging in 2008. Since then, he has studied at the John C. Campbell Folk School and Touchstone Center for Crafts, and further refined his skills under several master smiths, including Peter Ross, Wayne Agpar, and Thomas Latane.

A member of the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil Association, Adams opened his own company in 2012. He enjoys sharing his artwork and introducing others to the blacksmithing process through presentations for Boy Scout troops, school groups, and community gatherings.

Linda Thomas Jones
Considered one of the founding mothers of female African drumming in the United States, Jones began her drumming career at the age of 18. Following her studies, which took place both in Ghana and under the direction of world-renowned Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji and Dr. Charles Davis, she opened the Imani African-American Dance Company in Cleveland in 1980.

 Jones is a community arts educator with more than 47 years of teaching experience, and she is the creator of the Girls and Grandmas Drumming Together program, which serves as a mentoring opportunity for girls and women between the ages of 8 and 100. The program focuses on drumming and encourages healthy growth in youth by stimulating their creativity and embracing their artistic abilities.

"Artist Spotlight: Mama Fasi" video


Riley School of Irish Music
The Riley School of Irish Music was founded in 1996 by Susan Cross Gilligan, and it has since grown to encompass a community of children, teenagers, and adults who are dedicated to the pursuit of Irish traditional music.Located in the Greater Cincinnati area, Riley’s offers instruction by 20 teachers on 14 traditional Irish instruments. The school currently enrolls 100 students.

With notable teaching faculty, including flute player John Skelton of The House Band and harpist Marta Cook, Riley’s is dedicated to the sharing of Irish music, stories, and culture. Emphasizing the connection between music and historical context, Riley’s aims to pass the traditions of artistic masters forward to new generations.

To learn more about the OAC’s Heritage Fellowships, visit

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Photos: Roy Adams in Shop, photo by Jessica Adams; Linda Thomas Jones, photo courtesy of, video courtesy of the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning; Riley School of Irish Music, logo courtesy of; Photo: Board of Trustees, photo courtesy of Riley School of Irish Music.
Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist

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