The winners have been announced for the National Campaign for the Arts’ (NCA) Hearts for the Arts Awards 2020, with Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Music Zone taking the top spot in the ‘Best Arts Initiative’ category.

The awards celebrate the unsung heroes of Local Authorities championing the arts, often within a climate of severe financial challenges.

The awards were judged by high-profile figures in the arts and sciences: Susie Dent, Gary Kemp, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Alom Shaha, Errollyn Wallen CBE, Kirstie Wilson and Samuel West.

Discussing Plymouth Music Zone, the judges said:

PMZ has a very focused determination to help disadvantaged children, young people and vulnerable adults in the community of Plymouth through music. Gary Kemp: actor, musician, songwriter, founder member of Spandau Ballet

I particularly loved the ‘Beyond Words’ initiative from this wonderful charity, designed for those who find communicating difficult, and helping them embrace the vital non-verbal language we use, including silence. Susie Dent: lexicographer, etymologist, host of Countdown’s ‘Dictionary Corner’

Plymouth Music Zone’s Chief Executive, Debbie Geraghty, says she’s delighted Plymouth has been acknowledged in this way:

Huge thanks to the Hearts For The Arts judges for such amazing comments recognising the true impact of this work in Plymouth. It’s worth showing some love to Plymouth City Council and all those funders and supporters who really understand the key importance of investing in local community music projects like this. We’re so passionate about using music as a powerful way of bringing people together to create something that feels genuinely kind and inspiring – and to find a sense of community where people genuinely care about everyone else. I love the fact this award has so much ‘heart’.  Plymouth proves music can play a vital part in the bigger picture of a city in very wholehearted and meaningful ways. And in ways that create that all important sense of belonging we all need and deserve. Thank you for showing such strong support for that.

Plymouth City Council were also thrilled with the result of the awards that received scores of entries from across the country. Plymouth City Council Cabinet Member for children and young people, Councillor Jon Taylor said: 

We are beyond happy. This is an incredibly special project that brings pure simple joy and to have it nationally recognised is just brilliant news for Plymouth Music Zone, brilliant for the Council and for all the families who use this incredible project.”

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; Thrive; Theatre NI, Voluntary Arts Wales, Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

Further details about Plymouth Music Zone’s win can be found here:

For the full list of winners visit

Download press release here