Pokuaa Osei and Rachel Wood announced as JOINT WINNERS of Hearts for the Arts Award

Pokuaa Osei, London Borough of Haringey, and Rachel Wood, Oldham Borough Council, win Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer.

What Next? and the National Campaign for the Arts have come together to create the Hearts for the Arts Awards, a new initiative to reward and thank Councils, Councillors and Council officers who are overcoming financial challenges to ensure the arts stay at the centre of community life.

The joint winners of Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer, announced at noon on Monday 13 February, are Pokuaa Osei, London Borough of Haringey, and Rachel Wood, Oldham Borough Council.

Pokuaa Osei has worked with FamilyFirstNights (FFN) at Mousetrap Theatre Projects for 11 years. Throughout the years, Pokuaa has worked tirelessly to support her families through the application process of acquiring the theatre tickets. Her leadership and intervention has evidently changed the lives of many young people and brought families together by participating in the FFN programme. She has made a positive impact within her department and her community supporting and encouraging families and individuals to step out of their ‘comfort zone’ to experience all aspects of the Arts.

One of our judges, Samuel West, commented, “Early years opportunities to experience art are vital; Pokuaa works with Mousetrap to give children the chance to meet live theatre head-on.”

Rachel Wood has worked for Oldham Council for over 20 years. With strong local knowledge and great communication skills, Rachel is aware of and responsive to the needs and aspirations of her communities, partners and local artists. She works in a collaborative manner to devise and deliver programmes of work which reach across communities and which deliver impact for people of all ages and abilities.

One of our judges, AL Kennedy, commented, “Rachel has shown long term commitment to arts activity, running a number of programmes in key areas with intelligent strategy and success.”

The final Hearts for the Arts Award, winner of Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Councillor, will be announced tomorrow at midday.