The shortlist has been announced for the National Campaign for the Arts’ (NCA) Hearts For The Arts Awards 2020. The national awards celebrate the unsung heroes of Local Authorities who are championing the arts, often within a climate of severe financial challenges.

Plymouth City Council has been nominated for Best Arts Initiative for its project Plymouth Music Zone.

Nominations were received from across the UK for each of the five award categories:

  • Best Arts Initiative
  • Best Arts Project – Community Cohesion
  • Best Arts Project – Arts, Health and Wellbeing
  • Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker
  • Best Arts Champion – Councillor

The shortlist was judged by representatives from some of this year’s partners in the awards: Culture Counts; Local Government Association; National Campaign for the Arts; and Voluntary Arts Wales.

Discussing Plymouth City Council’s nomination, the award partners said about Plymouth Music Zone:

“A powerful example of arts, social care, health and enterprise working together to make a meaningful difference to lives.

‘Plymouth Music Zone has clearly developed a cohesive community project which has had a visible, long-term impact for people in the Plymouth area. The partnerships they have forged are particularly impressive.”

Plymouth Music Zone’s Chief Executive, Debbie Geraghty, says:

“We’re hugely thankful to Plymouth City Council for its support of Plymouth Music Zone’s community music centre since the very beginning. They’ve put a roof over the head of a Devonport charity that has gone on to have international impact using the transformative power of music.  This work simply isn’t possible without the support of a range of funders and individuals who are passionate about investing in the possibilities of music making a difference.

The best local authorities have the foresight to believe and know that every penny ploughed into the powerful fabric of the arts can be as vital as investment in any other infrastructure, like roads. Plymouth Music Zone is proof that music can be the much needed glue that can hold people and communities together – and give equal access to all. Continued investment is key if we are to keep supporting meaningful change for another 20 years”.  

The winners of the Hearts For The Arts Awards 2020 will be announced on Valentine’s Day, 14 February. The winners will be selected from the shortlist by a panel of key arts industry experts and practitioners, including:

  • Susie Dent: lexicographer, etymologist, host of Countdown’s ‘Dictionary Corner’
  • Gary Kemp: actor, musician, songwriter, founder member of Spandau Ballet
  • Julie Hesmondhalgh: actress, activist
  • Alom Shaha: Physics teacher, dad, author of Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder
  • Errollyn Wallen CBE, composer
  • Kirstie Wilson: Kirklees Council, winner 2019 Hearts for the Arts Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer
  • Samuel West, actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

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

For more information on the shortlisted nominees visit

Download press release here.