Arts Derbyshire project up for national award

An Arts Derbyshire project designed to boost the wellbeing of housebound people over-65 will find out on Sunday (14 February) if it is award winning. 

Derbyshire County Council has been nominated for Best Arts Project for Necklace of Stars in 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.

Fittingly, the winners of the Hearts For The Arts Awards will be announced on Valentine's Day. 

Arts Derbyshire's Necklace of Stars was selected because of its work increasing wellbeing, reducing loneliness, forging connections and developing creativity.

Participants received one-to-one phone calls with artists ‘arthur + martha’ who guided them through the process of creating beautiful embroidered stars or creative writing themed around lullabies.

The embroidered stars were brought together to create a quilt which will be exhibited alongside the creative writing and lullaby soundtrack around Derbyshire’s cultural venues in 2022.

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

A spokesman for the NCA said that despite the incredible hardships faced by local authorities in 2020, this year's awards have seen them 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 Derbyshire’s nomination, Hearts for the Arts Award partners said about Necklace of Stars: “This is an inspirational project that has supported an extremely vulnerable group of individuals, made more vulnerable by COVID-19. It has clearly given participants purpose and focus, helping to reduce loneliness and mental ill health. The way the project adapted to provide one-to-one support to individuals remotely during lockdown is impressive and we were struck by the strong partnerships across a range of partners that allowed the project to expand its impact by signposting participants to other services". 

Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture and Tourism, said: “This has been a very difficult time for everyone, particularly for people who can’t leave their homes. The guiding purpose behind this project has been making connections, thereby boosting happiness and tackling loneliness in challenging circumstances – by creating beautiful and meaningful art with people in the same situation.”

The National Campaign for the Arts presents 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

Main image:

Necklace of Stars. Photo Credit: arthur + martha. 

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