Hearts for the Arts


Nominations are now open for the 6th annual Hearts for the Arts Awards, celebrating local authority and cultural trust arts champions and creative community projects.

The awards are an annual initiative from the National Campaign for the Arts, which advocates greater public investment in the arts to improve the lives of people across the UK.

Creativity and the arts played a vital role during the pandemic. The 2022 Hearts for the Arts Awards continue to celebrate the creative projects and people who have connected communities and encouraged artistic expression within post-pandemic recovery.

Read this article in Welsh

From creative activity that has brought communities together again, to digital innovation that has created new connections, to arts festivals, to civic uses of local cultural buildings and arts organisations, nominations are encouraged from a wide range of projects across the UK that have taken place between 21st November 2020 and 20th November 2021.

The awards are delivered in partnership with Community Leisure UK, Creative Lives, the Local Government Association, Thrive, UK Theatre, and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

The winners are chosen by a judging panel of leading arts figures alongside actor and director and NCA Trustee, Samuel West. Last year’s judges included Adrian Lester CBE, Paul Hartnoll, Mariella Frostrup, Le Gateau Chocolat, Francesca Martinez, Helen Czerski and Petra Roberts from Hackney Council, who were 2020 award winners for their Windrush Generations festival. This year’s judges will be announced in January.

From 26th October until nominations close on 26th November, members of the public, arts professionals, local authorities and cultural trusts can put nominations forward in three categories:

  • Best Arts Champion – Councillor
  • Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker
  • Best Arts project

The awards are also open to cultural trusts working on behalf of local authorities. The National Campaign for the Arts is keen to recognise those who have used trust status to enhance arts provision and benefit local people. Therefore, the Best Arts Champion categories allow nominations for any local authority or cultural trust worker.

The winners will be announced on Valentine’s Day 2022 and the awards will be presented in collaboration with the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport conference which will be taking place in March 2022, hosted by LGA Chair, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Actor, director and NCA Trustee Samuel West said:

“In a year that has seen the grief and exhaustion of unprecedented times, but also the happy gathering of family and friends and the ability to move more freely, creativity has proved itself a force that can reinvigorate a post-COVID world. 

Hearts for the Arts has always been about recognising the creative heroes of Local Authorities and Cultural Trusts, who work against the financial odds (and with heavily reduced funding) to promote and deliver arts projects and services to their communities. This year those local arts heroes have been working harder than ever to encourage recovery and connection. These awards are for them.”

LGA Chair, Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson said:

“We are delighted to support the annual Hearts for the Arts awards in celebrating the unsung heroes of local authorities and cultural trusts.  These awards demonstrate some of the best and innovative ways in which councils are bringing communities together under difficult circumstances, using cultural activities to tackle serious challenges, and enrich the lives of their residents.

“The arts have a vital role to play in supporting our national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and we look forward to hearing some of the inspirational stories of personal leadership and local impact that illustrate the importance of this contribution to local communities.”

The 2021 Hearts for the Arts Award Winners were: Mole Valley District Council’s Arts E-Live; Haringey Council’s N17 in partnership with Harris Academy Tottenham, Kick it Out, Threads Radio, RoughHouse Theatre and playwright, Dougie Blaxland; Create & Learn PlayKits from Wandsworth Arts Service and a consortium of Wandsworth’s creative organisations; Inspire Youth Arts’ Andy Dawson and Rochdale Borough’s Councillor Janet Emsley.

Read our FAQs to find out more about the awards 

Read our FAQs in Welsh