Your chance for glory in the voluntary arts Oscars!

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Kelly Donaldson on why you should enter the Epic Awards

22nd December 2017 by TFN 0 Comments

We see their faces on the side of buses, on billboards and on the big screen – so when the Oscars are handed out each February or March, the winners are as familiar to us as our own families.

A couple of months later another, less glamorous and certainly less well-known awards ceremony takes place.

And while the recipients may not be household names, their contribution to the arts – and people’s lives – is bigger than any billboard.

Run by Voluntary Arts, a UK-wide organisation that supports and champions creative cultural activity, the Epic Awards were set up in 2010.

The aim was to shine a light on the many thousands of groups who bring creativity to their local community

The aim was to shine a light on the many thousands of groups who bring creativity to their local community, and a smile to people's faces, week in week out. Seven years later, the list of winners, runners-up and shortlisted groups is full of inspirational projects making a real difference to the well-being and quality of life of their participants.

Voluntary Arts welcomes nominations from groups of all shapes and sizes, based across the UK and Ireland, and who are being creative in any way. From amateur dramatics groups to choirs, sewing groups to festivals, photography clubs to orchestras, and everything inbetween.

A shortlist of 5-7 entries is chosen from each country (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) and from that, a winner and runner-up is selected for each nation. Previous Scotland winners have included: the RE-Tune Project in Glasgow, which helps people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder make and play their own guitars; Braemar Creative Arts Festival, out of which a number of year-round creative groups were born; Barra Bunting, who invited crafters from their island home and around the world to contribute to a mass bunting project; and alter-nativity, a community theatre event, which brought four Aberdeenshire villages together to stage an alternative nativity inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis.

Winners receive a range of prizes, including cash and in-kind support. But feedback from groups who have been shortlisted or won an Epic Award suggests the value of getting involved extends beyond that. Sometimes it’s as simple as a morale boost for the group or raising their profile in the local press/radio – others have found themselves being taken more seriously by funders.

As David McHarg of the RE-Tune Project said, “It was a special honour to win the Epic Award for Scotland. Working with people to improve their quality of life, and participation in creative arts, is a reward in itself but to be recognised for this is a massive boost. It makes things fresh and re-energised, with a focus on growth and more participation - this really does make a difference.”

Nominations are currently open, so if you’re part of a creative group run by volunteers (or with paid support for additional needs), and feel you have done something special over the past year, then don’t keep it to yourself – let us help spread the word about your achievements.

To nominate your group for an Epic Award, visit here – or for more information, contact Kelly Donaldson, Voluntary Arts Scotland on email: Deadline for nominations: 11 January 2018.

Kelly Donaldson is communications manager at Voluntary Arts Scotland.