Hearts for the Arts


The shortlist has been announced for the NCA's Hearts for the Arts Awards 2021. The awards celebrate the unsung heroes of Local Authorities who are championing the arts against all odds.

Nominations were received from across the UK for each of the three award categories. Despite the incredible hardships faced by Local Authorities in 2020, this year's awards have seen the NCA receive a record-breaking number of nominations, as local communities turned to the arts for solace, strength and connectivity during the pandemic.

The Hearts for the Arts Awards were launched five years ago to highlight the achievements of Local Authorities continuing their arts services against a backdrop of severe financial cuts.

The shortlist was judged by representatives from this year’s award partners: Culture Counts, Local Government Association, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, National Campaign for the Arts, UK Theatre and Voluntary Arts Wales.

Read this article in Welsh

This year’s shortlists are made up of an exciting mix of exemplary projects and people utilising creativity to strengthen their local communities, economies, and wellbeing. From hosting online festivals to delivering creative toolkits to young people, and from opening brand-new cultural centres, to innovating artistic collaborations with health professionals, this year’s shortlists are the clearest case studies for the necessity of creativity to all of our lives.

The shortlists are:

Our Chair, Samuel West, said:

“After such a difficult year for all those in local authorities and the arts – a year of loss, postponement and distance – to be able to celebrate these shortlists, full of people and projects that brought us together in new and life-saving ways, is a real joy. We’d like to thank our partners for working hard to make this year’s awards happen, and especially the local authorities who have been adapting and promoting their arts services at a time when communities have needed them most. I am thrilled that Hearts for the Arts can show some love for the creativity, ingenuity and commitment of those on this year’s shortlists”

This year’s winners will be selected from the shortlist by a judging panel of key arts industry experts and practitioners, including:

  • Le Gateau Chocolat, Drag artiste and cabaret performer
  • Mariella Frostrup, Journalist and Broadcaster
  • Paul Hartnoll, musician, composer, founder member of Orbital
  • Adrian Lester CBE, actor and director
  • Petra Roberts, Cultural Development Manager, Hackney Council (2020 winners for the Windrush Generations Festival)
  • Samuel West, actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

The winners of the Hearts for the Arts Awards 2021 will be announced on Valentine’s Day, 14th February.

The National Campaign for the Arts present the Hearts for the Arts Awards each year. The awards are delivered by the NCA, in partnership with Culture Counts; the Local Government Association; Thrive; UK Theatre; Voluntary Arts Wales, Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

The 2020 Hearts for the Arts Award Winners were: Plymouth City Council’s Plymouth Music Zone; Hackney Council’s Windrush Generations Festival; Outside Edge – a collaboration between Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, and Kensington & Chelsea; Fife Cultural Trust’s Pauline Smeaton and Manchester City Councillor Luthfur Rahman. Read more about the 2020 Hearts for the Arts Awards here.

Read our FAQs  to find out more about the awards 

Read our FAQs in Welsh