Best Arts Champion Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker WINNER – Andy Dawson

Andy Dawson works as Service Manager at Inspire Youth Arts, which was launched, and is part-funded, by Nottinghamshire County Council. He is responsible for strategic planning and securing funds to deliver fantastic creative journeys for young people across Nottinghamshire. The extraordinary work created by the team under Andy’s lead has raised the profile of the arts locally and nationally, including performances by Inspire’s Able Orchestra with the Halle Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic and at the Royal Albert Hall.

Andy has been selected as the winner of Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker in the 2021 Hearts for the Arts Awards. In the words of our judges, here’s why:

I love Andy’s passion for providing arts services to disadvantaged young people. As someone who desperately wanted to be a performer, but was discouraged – because of my disability – by many adults, I can see the huge importance of someone like Andy, who strongly believes in the power of art to heal, inspire, and help process difficult experiences. His long career and the wide-ranging nature of his projects is wonderful, and demonstrates a deep dedication to working with young people of all backgrounds. Andy has clearly transformed many lives for the better.  Francesca Martinez: comedian, writer, actress

Effective advocacy for the arts is so important, and it’s fantastic to hear about people like Andy who are clearly so good and so passionate about what they do. It takes a lot of hard work and the right personality to connect to such a broad range of community members, and the results (as Andy has shown) are incredibly valuable. Helen Czerski: physicist, oceanographer, television presenter

The breadth and quality of Andy’s work must be exceptional when you consider some of the partner’s he has engaged. Playing with BBC Philharmonic and the Halle Orchestra at The Albert Hall is an extraordinary feat in and of itself but the real magic is what he’s gifting the players and his community- the ambition and permission to dream big because that sort of art, considered elite by many, is often exclusive, but not according to Andy. That is very special. In addition to advocating for individuals with special needs to be included. I attended an inclusivity workshop at The Globe where the facilitator opened with “no one is born disabled, society disables them”- to work across as many organisations as listed here and to secure the resources that facilitated performances in both London and Manchester is the work of a champion because putting that into practise is often met by roadblocks you didn’t even envisage. I love what Andy is doing and has done. A gift to any community but to the young people of Nottinghamshire, he has expanded their worldview by including them in the conversation and showing them possibilities beyond their borders. Le Gateau Chocolat: drag artiste and cabaret performer

It’s impossible not to be impressed by Andy’s many achievements but particularly his work with the Able Orchestra and his skills empowering his team to work independently and create projects that have such a wide impact. Mariella Frostrup: journalist and broadcaster

Nice one Andy. It sounds like you are running a creative kingdom with open arms for young folk and people who don’t have the means. I especially like the focus on recording music, which is a daunting thing to tackle if you are inexperienced and don’t have the facility . It feels like you’re really getting in there, one-to-one, and helping people create from the ground up. Paul Hartnoll: musician, composer, founder member of Orbital

Andy Dawson clearly is a resourceful and passionate arts leader that drives change through arts and culture for young people and those most in need. Petra Roberts: Cultural Development Manager, Hackney Council (2020 Hearts for the Arts Winners for the Windrush Generations Festival)

To quote RATATOUILLE, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” Andy Dawson clearly believes this, and he backs it up with data and personal stories of how art and creativity can transform people’s lives, no matter who they are and where they’re from. The sort of producer you’d love to have in your trench in a big fight, Andy’s tenacity and good-humour shine through this nomination. What a wonderful champion of people, especially young people, in Nottinghamshire. Look after him. Samuel West: actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

Read more about Andy Dawson’s nomination here

Andy Dawson with a student from the Able Orchestra. Photo Credit: Mark Allsop

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