Media Release: Creative volunteers to be celebrated in nationwide awards

Image of human hands in colorful paint with smiles

THOUSANDS of people across the UK give up their time to share their passion for arts and creative activities.

Leading groups of young and old, these people improve the lives of millions of people in the UK.

The UK’s body for championing participation in creative cultural activities, Voluntary Arts, has launched the Epic Awards.

These nationwide awards offer the opportunity to celebrate and reward these volunteers and groups and spread the word about the huge range of activities enriching our lives in all areas of Scotland.

  • UK and Ireland’s premier award for amateur cultural groups, the Epic Awards opens for nominations.
  • A winner and a runner up will be chosen from Scotland, England, Northern & Republic of Ireland, and Wales.
  • Over 60,000 voluntary arts groups across the UK and Republic of Ireland are eligible.
  • Groups can nominate themselves online at
  • Closing date for nominations is 7 December.
  • The Epic Awards will be presented at a dinner in Cardiff on 2 April 2016.
  • Once the shortlist is announced there will also be a People’s Choice award voted for by the public, a Peer award in which groups vote for each other and additional awards for excellent work with young people and disabled people.
  • The Epic Awards are run by Voluntary Arts to recognise and reward excellence and innovation in the amateur cultural sector.

Are you involved in an arts or crafts group that is doing something new and interesting? Have you struck up an interesting collaboration, inspired others or solved a problem in your home town?

From singing to knitting, amateur dramatics to painting, over 60,000 amateur arts groups across the UK and Republic of Ireland are making a difference to lives in their local areas. The Epic Awards shines a spotlight on their achievements.

You can nominate your group for an award by filling in the form on and put them forward for national recognition and a range of prizes from financial support to advice, partnership and performance opportunities.

Winning groups have usually run initiatives or activities that involve interesting collaborations, or engage with their local community or beyond, undertake creative activity that inspires others or increases participation, or use new ideas in innovative ways.

Last year’s winner from Scotland, Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail, is a volunteer-led arts trail which has grown to include over 100 venues filled with work created by over 200 participants attracting audiences from far and wide.

Pauline Saul, from the Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail, at the launch of this year’s awards, reflected on what winning the Epic Award meant for the group.

She said: “We were delighted to be short listed for the Epic Award for Scotland. When the email came saying that we had won we were extremely proud of our achievement, wanting to run outside and tell everyone.

“The Epic Award has given the trail some good publicity through local papers and town folk have been really pleased both for us and for Kirkcudbright. Following the Epic Award we have grown in confidence, and become more forward thinking, planning a Christmas event and our theme for 2016.”

Last year’s runner-up in Scotland DD8 Music is a group run by volunteers in Kirriemuir, which provides free lessons, jams and recording equipment for young people. DD8 Music also picked up the UK wide award for exceptional work with young people.

The public have their chance to vote and award a prize to one of the shortlisted groups through The People’s Choice Award.

Last year’s winners were Knitted Knockers UK, a group of over 650 people across the UK who co-ordinate online to create and send 100 per cent cotton breast prostheses to women who have had mastectomies.

Jemma Neville, director of Voluntary Arts Scotland, said: “The Epic Awards demonstrate the scale and diversity of self-led creative cultural activity in Scotland. From volunteer-led festivals to community radio stations, and poetry groups to choirs, there are creative people across the country with the passion and initiative to provide opportunities for people to take part in voluntary arts activity. I strongly encourage groups thinking of applying to do so.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The Voluntary Arts Epic Awards showcase excellent examples of inclusive and local participation in the arts and the initiative and drive of many dedicated volunteers across the country who set up and run thousands of arts and cultural groups.

“Voluntary arts contribute much to Scotland’s rich and varied cultural life and Voluntary Arts Scotland’s support helps enable more people to get involved in creative activities.

“These awards demonstrate an ongoing commitment to ensuring that communities across Scotland are supported to create and participate so that all the hard work and imagination that contribute to the cultural life of our communities, often undertaken by volunteers, is recognised.

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about the exciting work taking place the length and breadth of Scotland in the run up to this year’s awards and encourage Scottish nominations to be put forward.”

The Epic Awards are supported by Spirit of 2012, an independent trust created to sustain the spirit and opportunities from London 2012, and are themselves supporting BBC Get Creative. Spirit has also helped to create two new categories of Epic Award as well as the Epic Places project.

Voluntary Arts also acknowledges funding from Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales, Creative Scotland and Arts Council Northern Ireland.

Debbie Lye, chief executive of Spirit of 2012, said: “We at Spirit are delighted to be supporting the Epic Awards again in 2016. I was blown away by the sheer breadth of high-quality award nominations last year – it’s clear we’ve got a voluntary arts scene to be proud of.

“The Epic Awards really do showcase the cream of the UK and Ireland’s amateur artistic and cultural crop, and I am eager to see who’s in the running in 2016. Best of luck!”

Epic Award 2016 partners are Arts & Business Cymru, Making Music, Arts Development UK, People’s Voice Media, Audiences NI, Arts and Business NI, Ulster Association of Youth Drama, Dance Resource Base, Volunteer Now, Volunteer Ireland, Association of Irish Choirs, Association of Irish Festival Events, Sue Isherwood, Rosemary Curtis and BBC Get Creative.

Notes to editors:

For interviews, quotes, case studies, photos or further information please contact Susie Gray, The Corner Shop PR, 07834 073 795

More information about the Epic Awards, and previous winners can be found at

Epic Awards Facebook page



Previous Scottish winner quotes:

“It was something we were really proud of and something that put us on the map. We were also very honoured to be chosen from the group of projects. It have the committee confidence that yes, we can do something really good here.” Barra Bunting

“The sense of pride, achievement and recognition was tangible and something that lasts to this day. It feels like our group is taken more seriously.” The Buddy Beat

About Voluntary Arts

Voluntary Arts operates across the UK and Republic of Ireland, offering information, advice and support to the 65,000+ groups who regularly provide opportunities for creative cultural activity in their local area. We also advocate for the voluntary arts sector, and work with local and national decision makers to help create the best environment for amateur arts to flourish in.

Further information can be found on

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