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Nominations open for national awards to celebrate local arts heroes



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Hearts for the Arts is an awards initiative which recognises and celebrates exceptional local government support for the arts.

Nominations are now open for the 6th annual 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 country.

Creativity and the arts have played a vital role during the pandemic. The 2022 Hearts for the Arts Awards celebrate the creative projects and people who have connected communities and encouraged artistic expression within post-pandemic recovery. From creative activity that has brought communities together again, digital innovation that has made new connections, arts festivals, to civic uses of local cultural buildings and arts organisations, nominations are sought from a wide range of projects across the UK.

Hearts for the Arts is an awards initiative which recognises and celebrates exceptional local government support for the arts
Hearts for the Arts is an awards initiative which recognises and celebrates exceptional local government support for the arts

Some local authorities and cultural trusts really understand the importance of the arts to the wellbeing of local communities and the value this small but crucial investment brings, even in financially challenging times. Hearts for the Arts says thank you to the councils, councillors and council officers supporting the arts and recognises those unsung heroes.

There are three award categories:

1. Best Arts Champion – Councillor

2. Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker

3. Best Arts Project

The awards cover projects and creative services and councillors, officers and workers throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Nominations opened today (Tuesday, October 26) and close at 11am on Friday, November 26. Anyone can make a nomination. For example, you could be a member of the public who has seen or been part of a great local authority project; an employee of a local authority running an initiative; or a colleague of someone you think deserves an award.

The shortlist will be announced Friday, January 14 2022, and the final winners will be announced on Valentine’s Day. The awards will be presented by actor, director and chairman of the National Campaign for the Arts Samuel West, at the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference in March 2022, hosted by LGA chairman Gerald Vernon-Jackson. Winners will be invited to attend the conference, which is the largest annual gathering of councillors and officers involved with culture, tourism and sport.

Who can be nominated?

  • For Best Arts Champion - Councillor:

Leadership is critically important to keep the arts at the heart of communities. This award is for those who advocate for, support and engage with the arts in their role as an elected councillor.

An individual whose work influences and encourages arts activities within their council area. The work you are nominating them for must have been undertaken as a direct part of their employment with a county, district, borough, city council or cultural trust (including cultural trusts delivering on behalf of their local authority). The individual must have worked for the county, district, borough, city council or cultural trust within the last 12 months.

A mayor is eligible for nomination in the Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Councillor category.

  • For Best Arts Champion - Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker:

This award is for Local Authority and Cultural Trust workers who work passionately and tirelessly on arts projects and programmes in their communities during this time. This category is not limited to those working in arts and heritage departments; for example they could work in planning or social care.

An individual whose work influences and encourages arts activities within their council area. The work you are nominating them for must have been undertaken as a direct part of their employment with a county, district, borough, city council or cultural trust (including cultural trusts delivering on behalf of their local authority). The individual must have worked for the county, district, borough, city council or cultural trust within the last 12 months.

  • For Best Arts Project:

An initiative, project or creative service that has been delivered by a county, district, borough, city council or cultural trust. The initiative or project must have taken place between November 21 2020 and November 20, 2021. This category recognises the projects and creative services that have been delivered against-all-odds this year and that have created connection at a time when we have all been forced to be disconnected. We welcome a wide range of nominations from creative activity that has brought communities together, to civic uses of local cultural buildings and arts organisations.

You can nominate a project or person by filling out a nomination form at: http://forthearts.org.uk/campaigns/hearts-for-the-arts/

There is no limit to the number of nominations you can make.

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 chairman Gerald Vernon Jackson added: “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.”



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