Nottingham is first Hearts for the Arts winner
Nottingham City Council has won the best local authority arts initiative title in the National Campaign for the Arts' first Hearts for the Arts awards.
The awards were devised by the NCA and the What’s Next? arts consultative group to spotlight the councils, councillors and council officers who are overcoming the financial challenges to local authorities to ensure the arts remain at the centre of their communities.
The city won for its performing arts library service, a purpose-built library IT system that allows users to browse the catalogue for forthcoming drama and music performances, view the availability of material and make reservations which will begin to repay its capital investment within five years.
The best local authority arts champion councillor is Wendy Simon of Liverpool City Council. She is the cabinet member for culture, leading on the delivery of ground-breaking projects, as well as being assistant mayor for Liverpool. She beat her own mayor, Joe Anderson, the prize.
There were joint winners of the award for local authority arts champion official. They are Pokuaa Osei of Haringey for finding ways to encourage disadvantaged families to become theatre-goers, and Rachel Wood, Oldham’s arts development officer who has devised arts programmes that reach across communities.
“It’s a tough time for Local Authority spending, and we know that Councils across the nation are feeling the pressure of central government cuts” said NCA chair Sam West. “But there are some places where elected representatives stand up for the arts, and fight to protect the tiny amount of investment (less than 0.5% of the total budget) that goes into arts and culture.
“I’m delighted that our first Hearts for the Arts awards have honoured some of these incredible people and places. We love them - they help the arts to bring us together, creating sustainable, cohesive communities in challenging times.”
Picture shows Nottingham's winning NPALS team, left to right Cllr. Dave Trimble, Steve Chartres, Sarah Akroyd, Jude Paton