Hearts for the Arts

These awards are an annual celebration of the local authorities who invest in the joy, excitement and life-enriching quality of the arts. Each year they demonstrate the power of the arts to change lives.

Councils have been the unsung heroes of arts funding for decades. Town Halls across the nation are under unprecedented pressure to reduce budgets and deal with increased demands in areas such as social care, but even so our analysis shows the arts have been cut disproportionately in the last five years compared to council services overall (despite the fact that investment in the arts accounts on average for less than ½p in every £1 spent by local authorities in England).

But this is not true everywhere. Some Local Authorities really understand the importance of the arts to the well-being of local communities and the value that this small but crucial investment brings.

Hearts for the Arts Awards winners in 2019 are:

Best Local Authority Arts Initiative
Torbay Tattoo Tales, Torbay Council

Best Local Authority Arts Project Encouraging Community Cohesion
Erimus, Middlesbrough Council

Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Councillor
Mayor David Budd, Middlesbrough Council

Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer
Kirstie Wilson, Kirklees Council


Hearts for the Arts is a National Campaign for the Arts initiative.
Delivered by UK Theatre
In partnership with Culture Counts, Local Government Association, Theatre NI, Voluntary Arts Wales, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and What Next?

Our annual Hearts for the Arts Awards shine a spotlight on councils and individual officers and Councillors who are overcoming financial challenges to ensure the arts are at the centre of community life.

Read our FAQs and find out more about the awards  – English or Welsh

The winners of the Hearts For The Arts Awards 2019 were announced on Valentine’s Day, Thursday 14 February. The winners were selected from the shortlist by a panel of key arts industry experts and practitioners, including:

  • Samira Ahmed: journalist, writer and broadcaster
  • Les Dennis: actor, comedian, television presenter and NCA Champion
  • Jude Kelly: producer, director, founder of Women of the World Festivals and The WOW Foundation, ex-Artistic Director of The Southbank Centre
  • Kwame Kwei-Armah: playwright, director, Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theatre
  • Lorna Lee: Head of Culture & Heritage Services, London Borough of Waltham Forest, and Winner of the 2018 Hearts for the Arts Awards for Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer
  • Samuel West: actor, director and Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

Read about the full shortlist of wonderful entries, in English or in Welsh.