The awards celebrate the unsung heroes of Local Authorities who are championing the arts against all odds.
Nominations were received from across the UK in each of the three award categories: Best Arts Project; Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker; Best Arts Champion – Councillor.
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 20th anniversary, 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. (pictured above)
- 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.
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
- Anna Lapwood, organist, conductor and broadcaster
- Deborah Meaden, businesswoman and TV Dragon
- Jack Thorne, screenwriter and playwright
- Samuel West, actor and director, NCA Trustee
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.”