Councillor Bob Price, Oxford City Council

Hearts for the Arts Shortlist: Councillor Bob Price, Oxford City Council

Shortlisted in the inaugural National Campaign for the Arts/What Next? Hearts for the Arts Awards 2017 for Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Councillor.

Councillor Bob Price is an outstanding character and a passionate champion of the arts, who has been actively supporting arts and culture in Oxford for over 30 years.

Formally, he is Leader of the Council, Leader of the Labour Group, Board Member for Corporate Strategy and Economic Development. He is also a vocal member of the South East Area Council of Arts Council England and on the advisory board of Oxford Philomusica. He is a trustee of South Oxfordshire Adventure Playground and a Trustee of Lake Street Play group. Before being a councillor, Bob was an academic, a senior manager at Oxford Brookes University, UK Research Councils and volunteered as the treasurer of Modern Art Oxford amongst other things.

Ask anyone working in arts and culture in Oxford about Bob they most often say, ‘Bob’s great – he comes to everything!’. The diverse range of examples each person can give of the multiple ways in which Bob has shown up, supported, advised and encouraged is extraordinary. Bob is known for the breadth of his interest in arts and cultural events; from performance sharing by young people at Pegasus, to community carnivals and fairs, to The Story Museum’s Alice’s Day, to plays at Oxford Playhouse (where he is a member) and attending art gallery openings.

Bob not only attends, his warm conversation is knowledgeable and encouraging. He gives financial support where he can, he acts as an ambassador for the arts within the council and city and he actively listens. You are as likely to hear a young person telling him in-depth about a project, or a council worker telling him details of the professional blossoming of an intern as you are to hear him defending the arts. He openly champions the importance of the informal cultural partnerships that happen across the city, which thrive because they are not structured by funder’s agendas.

Bob values these multiple informal interactions because he sees the big picture. He thinks long term about the human ecology of Oxford and believes a strong arts and cultural life is a vital part of that. He leads environmental sustainability agendas, fights for affordable housing and the importance of welcoming asylum seekers in Oxford.

What the judges had to say:

Samuel West, actor and director: “A model of enthusiastic participation and a great councillor and arts advocate”