The awards are a celebration of those in local authorities who are championing the arts against all odds.
Judges include high-profile figures in the arts and sciences: Le Gateau Chocolat, Helen Czerski, Mariella Frostrup, Paul Hartnoll, Adrian Lester CBE, Francesca Martinez, Petra Roberts and NCA Chair Samuel West.
Mole Valley District Council’s (MVDC) Arts Development Officer Claudia Cartwright, who organises the festival along with a committee, was also shortlisted for Local Authority Arts Champion.
Usually called Arts Alive, the festival was renamed Arts e-Live 2020 as for the first time in its 24-year history most events took place online.
The theme was Arts for Wellbeing, and TV presenter and journalist Lorraine Kelly CBE was the festival’s patron. There were 57 events for all ages throughout October in the fields of music, theatre, poetry, creative writing, children’s events, street art, craft, filmmaking and dance. In total, the festival had an audience of 7,000 people.
The NCA awards will be presented by Samuel West and selected guest judges at the Hearts for the Arts digital ceremony hosted by the Local Government Association on Wednesday 3 March at 3pm.
Chairman of Arts Alive, Councillor Mary Huggins, said: “We are all absolutely thrilled at winning this national award. We knew we had to rise to this year’s challenge of becoming an online festival in a very short time. Everybody worked extremely hard, adapting to new ideas and learning new skills and brought our wonderful festival to an even wider community than normal, proving our belief in the value of the arts for everybody.”
MVDC’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Councillor David Draper said: “We’re delighted that Arts Alive won this award. We’re so proud of the hard work of all the festival’s organisers to make it such a success. We were able to reach more people than ever before with a range of accessible, innovative arts events that brought the community together at a time when they were feeling further apart.”
The Hearts for the Arts Awards are delivered by the NCA, in partnership with Culture Counts, the Local Government Association, Thrive, UK Theatre, Voluntary Arts Wales and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.
For all the latest news on Arts Alive, follow them on Instagram: @mole_valley_arts_alive, Twitter: @ArtsAliveMV and Facebook @molevalleyartsalive.
Judges’ comments on Arts e-Live:
“An amazing array of stuff on offer with this celebration of the arts. Covering pottery, sculpture, creative writing, poetry, talks, children’s theatre, opera screenings and more. Increased participation by shops forced to close. Those who were isolated due to age or illness able to tune in from home. Children’s activities. Really well done.” Adrian Lester, actor and director
“A real celebration of multiple art forms, combined with a dogged determination to overcome the multiple challenges presented by COVID. It has given a much-needed platform to a wide-range of artists and provided audiences with diverse content at a time when people were desperate for contact and creative output. I’m really impressed by the scale and ambition of this project!” Francesca Martinez, comedian, writer, actress
“This is such an impressive collaboration, and one of the best parts of that is that it includes both large organisations like the local council and also very small and specialist local community groups. This combined top-down and bottom-up approach is almost always very powerful and the comments show that these efforts produced very valuable results. Bravo to everyone involved!” Helen Czerski, physicist, oceanographer, television presenter
“A massive communal effort and one that brought great pride. I’m struck by the diversity of content and the initiative to respond to the pandemic by making sure their festival still went ahead. From volunteering to going over and beyond what is expected from the salaried arts officer. What is very encouraging and apparent is the willingness to leave absolutely no one behind.” Le Gateau Chocolat, drag artiste and cabaret performer
“Sounds like a great time was had by all and what a diverse and exciting range of arts and creative ideas make up the festival.” Mariella Frostrup, journalist and broadcaster
“Wow, what a turnaround for what seems like a big project made of many small moving parts to develop into a massively successful online event. A well-needed event for all those artists to really get involved with something that is there for the whole community. There needs to be more of this sort of event country wide.” Paul Hartnoll, musician, composer, founder member of Orbital
“This festival rose to the pandemic challenge and has demonstrated resilience and collaboration across a wide range of partners who have predominantly volunteered their time to present a cultural offer reaching 7,000 audiences across villages and towns. As the nominees beautifully said, ‘what a wonderful way to widen the outlook of those whose health or general mobility limits them and to show how deeply local government cares about supporting our community and its wellbeing.’ I was impressed by the ambition it had to develop new audiences online and by the number of nominations this project received.” Petra Roberts, Cultural Development Manager, Hackney Council (2020 Hearts for the Arts Winners for the Windrush Generations Festival)
“The joy of online is that no event is too small.’ A very good point. In circumstances which could hardly have been more challenging, I was struck by the reach and diversity of this festival, which
really does seem to have something for everyone. ‘We hadn’t realised how much we needed it’ is a comment that jumped out at me. At a time when despair can infect us as badly as COVID, Mole Valley District Council should be proud of the difference their support and care has made. More please. The community has clearly been touched by the energy and inventiveness of the organisers. This feeling is life-saving. Bottle it!” Samuel West, actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts
VantagePoint Media designed and produced the Arts Alive Festival brochure in 2018 and 2019 and hope to do so in 2021!