Epic Awards honour voluntary arts organisations

Epic Awards, which honours the cream of the UK and Ireland voluntary arts crop, has announced its 2016 shortlist. 31 companies have been picked from over 60,000 voluntary arts organisations that exist in the UK and Ireland, a vibrant community that has a massive impact on millions of lives.

The competition is run by Voluntary Arts – who promote participation in cultural activities across the UK and Ireland – with support from Spirit of 2012, the lottery funded trust that aims to keep the spirit of the London 2012 Olympics alive. Over half the UK adult population is involved in voluntary arts and crafts, ranging from dance to drama, festivals to flower arranging.

‘The shortlisted projects – from knitting, music or theatre groups to community festivals and creative work with young people and disabled people – brilliantly showcase the skill, innovation and hard work that goes into keeping the creative spirit of local communities alive,’ said Robin Simpson, Voluntary Arts chief executive. ‘We are extremely proud to be able to celebrate their stories with these Awards.’

Nominated companies include Liverpool community theatre makers 20 Stories High; Harps North West, who introduce people of all ages to the harp; and Irish knitters Woollen Woods Whitehead.

Companies were nominated by a judging panel, who will announce the winner in ceremony in Cardiff on 2 April. Organisations are judged on criteria of engagement, partnerships, innovation and creativity. Judges will also award prizes in disability and youth categories.

In addition to the main prize there is also a People’s Choice Award, voted for by the general public. Polling is open until 23 March, with the voting form online at epicawards.co.uk. The nominated companies will also vote for a Peers’ Award for Excellence.