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Debbie McGill shortlisted in Hearts for Arts Awards

The shortlist has been announced for the National Campaign for the Arts’ (NCA) Hearts for the Arts Awards 2022. The awards celebrate the unsung heroes of Local Authorities who are championing the arts against all odds.

Debbie McGill, Assistant Librarian at Live Borders, has been nominated for Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker for her work serving the communities of the Scottish Borders, and leading on two key projects during the pandemic: Creative Writing for Wellbeing; and the Connecting the Borders Digital Champion Programme.

This year’s winners will be selected from the shortlist by a judging panel of key arts industry experts and practitioners, including:

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, all round delight

Anna Lapwood, organist, conductor and broadcaster

Deborah Meaden, businesswoman and TV Dragon

Jack Thorne, screenwriter and playwright

Samuel West, actor and director, NCA Trustee

Despite the pandemic, creative people and projects have been supporting and producing local arts all around the nation this year – helping to ease the pressure on the NHS and other UK organisations responsible for care and rehabilitation, and proving the benefits of creativity to mental health, and general wellbeing. The Hearts for the Arts Awards are a way to celebrate these creative efforts and to encourage local authorities and cultural trusts to prioritise arts and culture in their areas.

Nominations were received from across the UK for each of this year’s three award categories: Best Arts Project; Best Arts Champion – Local Authority or Cultural Trust Worker; and Best Arts Champion – Councillor.

The shortlist was judged by representatives from the National Campaign for the Arts and from this year’s award partners: Community Leisure UK, Creative Lives, the Local Government Association, Thrive and UK Theatre.

Discussing Debbie’s nomination, Hearts for the Arts Award partners said:

“Debbie’s work has made an enormous difference to her community, helping hundreds of people to be connected and benefit from creative activity during the pandemic. This is an excellent example of the difference one determined and energetic person can make.”

In response to being shortlisted, Debbie said:

“I am so delighted to be shortlisted for the Hearts for the Arts Awards. The last year has been hard for everybody and we worked really hard to bring our library services and cultural activities to life and support everyone. The Creative Writing for Wellbeing, and Connecting Scotland were wonderful initiatives that brought people together, and I am so proud and excited to have been shortlisted.”

Ewan Jackson CEO of Live Borders said:

“Debbie thoroughly deserves this recognition. With Debbie’s energy and enthusiasm the Library service has evolved over the last year to deliver an exciting range of cultural activities that have brought support and enjoyment to communities across the Borders. The success of these new projects demonstrates the range of exciting initiatives and services a library service can deliver. Well done to Debbie and to the entire team.”

The winners of the Hearts for the Arts Awards 2022 will be announced on Valentine’s Day, 14th February 2022.

The National Campaign for the Arts present the Hearts for the Arts Awards each year. This year’s awards are delivered by the NCA, in partnership with Community Leisure UK, Creative Lives, the Local Government Association, Thrive, UK Theatre, and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

The Hearts for the Arts Awards were launched in 2016 to highlight the achievements of Local Authorities continuing their arts services against a backdrop of severe financial cuts. Previous judges have included Les Dennis, Susie Dent, Gary Kemp and Olivia Colman. Previous year’s winners included Wandsworth’s Create & Learn Playkits and Rochdale Borough’s Councillor Janet Emsley.


For more information on the shortlisted nominees visit forthearts.org.uk/campaigns/hearts-for-the-arts