Denise Gough and Sharon D Clarke among judges for new Artskickers Awards

Denise Gough. Photo: Mariano Vivanco Denise Gough. Photo: Mariano Vivanco
by -

Olivier award-winning actor Denise Gough is backing a new awards scheme that aims to celebrate “the unsung heroes” of the arts scene in east London.

Gough is one of the judges for the Artskickers Awards, alongside performer Sharon D Clarke, artist Gavin Turk and poet Lemn Sissay.

The Artskickers Awards initiative has been created by Gough’s sister, Angie Gough, who lives in east London and who wanted to launch a ceremony recognising those at the grassroots of the arts sector.

She said she wanted to create the awards in response to a statistic showing the number of young people living in poverty in Hackney, and how these people would not necessarily experience the benefit of arts participation.

She was also motivated by the ongoing cuts to local arts funding and arts education in schools, with the awards rewarding people and organisations whose “hard work, dedication, passion, slog and effort inspires communities to engage in and with the arts”.

“The east of London is full of amazing people doing brilliant stuff and people want to thank them. They never usually get thanked or rewarded,” she said.

Categories include community superhero, teacher and chief Artskicker.

Nominees for each category will be whittled down to five, with the judging panel selecting an overall winner for each one.

Local businesses and artists have been donating prizes, with each of the winners also receiving a gong that Angie said would be customised by a local artist, so that each winner receives a “one-off piece of art”.

The awards ceremony will take place on March 29 on the site of the original Curtain Theatre in east London, which is currently being turned into a mixed use development that will feature accommodation and a heritage centre, known as the Stage EC2.

Denise said: “An Artskicker is someone who believes in the power of the arts to make the world a better place and harnesses that power to make a positive impact in their local communities. We all know an Artskicker, now we are going to bring them out of the shadows and tell their stories.”

Nominees can be made here.