The five award-winners were chosen from a shortlist of 20 projects and champions by a judging panel of high-profile professionals in arts, business and journalism as follows:
Andy Dawson, Inspire Youth Arts, winner of the 2021 HFTA award for Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker
Krishnan Guru-Murthy, journalist and presenter of Channel 4 News
Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, author, speaker and supporter of music education
Shaparak Khorsandi, stand-up comedian, writer, and all round delight
Anna Lapwood, organist, conductor and broadcaster
Deborah Meaden, businesswoman and TV Dragon
Jack Thorne, screenwriter and playwright
Samuel West, actor and director, NCA Trustee
And the winners are:
- Best Arts Project: Of Earth & Sky (North Lincolnshire Council). The presentation of Luke Jerram’s Of Earth & Sky to celebrate 20-21 Visual Arts Centre’s 20thanniversary, a large-scale visual art trail constructed from poetry written by Scunthorpe residents.
- Best Arts Project: Intergenerational Connections Project (Mole Valley District Council and Surrey County Council). A multi-partner project involving District and County councils, the NHS and Primary Care Networks, using music to grow connections between vulnerable young people and older members of the local community.
- Best Arts Project: Westminster Reveals (Westminster City Council). An overarching cultural campaign developed by Westminster City Council in response to the pandemic, which sought to support the cultural sector and attract footfall back into Westminster through the curation of a programme of accessible art interventions in outdoor public spaces, and in vacant shops.
- Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker: Zerritha Brown (London Borough of Brent). Brent’s 2020 Legacy Manager, Zerritha Brown, has been championing culture in Brent and in the Council for over a decade since leading on Brent’s Cultural Olympiad programme.
- Best Arts Champion – Councillor: Councillor Ffion Meleri Gwyn (Cyngor Tref Criccieth Town Council). As an artist and a teacher, Councillor Gwyn has rolled up her sleeves and made art for Criccieth, overseeing many creative projects for the local community.
Samuel West, actor, director and trustee of the National Campaign for the Arts, said:
“The pandemic has taught us that our needs, in the end, are simple. We need something to eat. We need somewhere to sleep. And we need cheap and interesting things to do to stop us losing our minds.
“Art has proved its worth through lockdown – music, books, TV drama, video games, have all given a lifesaving boost to our mental and physical health. What is harder in a pandemic is to feel part of a community. Care settings have suffered. Public spaces have been left empty. Loneliness and isolation have made an epidemic of their own.
“That’s why we cheer the people and projects celebrated by Hearts for the Arts. Times are hard and budgets are tight – sometimes the simple act of making anything feels like a reason to party. But we want to shine a spotlight on the arts heroes who go above and beyond, and give the cheer of encouragement that local authorities, artists and arts organisations need to keep going.
“Art has a superpower: to bring people together; to help people feel human. Because now, more than ever, there’s no them and us. It’s all us.”
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:
“Local arts and cultural provision has never been more important than in the last two years. Council cultural services and trusts have rallied round to support people during the pandemic, reaching out to the most isolated, providing educational support and offering moments of joy to their communities during difficult times and under challenging conditions.
“Councils remain the biggest public investor in culture, spending over £1bn a year in England alone and these services will be vital in supporting our national recovery and addressing inequalities arising from COVID-19.
“We’re delighted to be able to celebrate some of these achievements with the Hearts for the Arts Awards. The shortlisted individuals and teams are an inspiration to us all and a reminder of the importance of locally funded cultural services in engaging people in creativity and achieving wider objectives around levelling up. Congratulations to all the winners.”
The LGA’s Hearts for the Arts Awards ceremony takes place virtually on Monday 7 March at 4pm. Spaces are limited and are available to book at this link.
The National Campaign for the Arts presents the Hearts for The Arts Awards each year. The awards are delivered by the NCA in partnership with Community Leisure UK, Creative Lives, the Local Government Association, Thrive, UK Theatre, and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.
For more information on the shortlisted nominees visit:
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