The shortlist has been announced for the National Campaign for the Arts' (NCA) Hearts For The Arts Awards 2021. The awards celebrate the unsung heroes of Local Authorities who are championing the arts against all odds.

Barnsley Council has been nominated for Best Arts Project for Barnsley Museums: Families in Lockdown – a programme of physical and digital activities designed to hit the needs of families with children of all ages across the borough during the months of lockdown.  

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

  • Le Gateau Chocolat, Drag artiste and cabaret performer
  • Paul Hartnoll, musician, composer, founder member of Orbital
  • Adrian Lester CBE, actor and director
  • Petra Roberts, Cultural Development Manager, Hackney Council (2020 winners for the Windrush Generations Festival)
  • Samuel West, actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

Despite the incredible hardships faced by Local Authorities in 2020, this year's awards have seen the NCA receive a record-breaking number of nominations, as local communities turned to the arts for solace, strength and connectivity during the pandemic. 

Nominations were received from across the UK for each of the 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 some of this year’s partners in the awards: Culture Counts; Wales Council for Voluntary Action; Local Government Association; National Campaign for the Arts; and Voluntary Arts Wales.

Discussing Barnsley’s nomination, the Hearts for the Arts Award partners said about Barnsley Museums: Families in Lockdown:

An incredible range of activities providing inspiration for children and families during the pandemic. It was great to hear about children being involved as creators as well as recipients of the project. And it is especially notable that digital poverty was recognised and catered for. It is heartening to hear that Barnsley Council has recognised the outstanding work the Museum Service is doing and provided financial support. A huge amount of time and effort has gone into this project and it shows. Congratulations!

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place (Regeneration and Culture) said:

Many families around the borough and beyond really value the Barnsley Museums family learning programme. Even though the doors to the museum were closed,the team desperately wanted to reach people with ideas for creative play and learning when it was needed most. We hope the project offered up some inspiration and brought some enjoyment during difficult times and we are extremely grateful that it has been recognised in this way.

The winners of the Hearts for the Arts Awards 2021 will be announced on Valentine’s Day, 14th February.

The National Campaign for the Arts present the Hearts for the Arts Awards each year. The awards are delivered by the NCA, in partnership with Culture Counts; the Local Government AssociationThriveUK TheatreVoluntary Arts WalesWales Council for Voluntary Action.

For more information on the shortlisted nominees visit