Creative Lives Awards

Celebrating the achievements of community-led creative groups

The Creative Lives Awards celebrate the creative groups that enhance people's lives in villages, towns, and cities across the UK and Ireland. Since 2010, we've invited community-led groups to share their activities and achievements, so that we can give them a well-deserved moment in the spotlight.  

Our Award winners all use creativity to bring people together. Groups might take part in singing, dancing, painting, crafting, performing, playing music, or any other creative activity. All of them provide vital opportunities for people to find community, express their creativity, make friends, learn new skills, boost their wellbeing - and have fun together!

The 2024 Creative Lives Awards shortlist is now online. Read all about them and vote for your favourite!

    A Celebration of Humanity

    Want to learn more about the Creative Lives Awards? You can read about some of our previous winners below and the wonderful work they do, or check out a list of our recent winners here. We hope they will inspire you to tell us all about your group!



    The Joy of Sound - a volunteer-run group providing inclusive participatory music and arts activities for people of all ages and backgrounds, including marginalised groups and disabled people facing complex health challenges.

    “Our regular session participants helped to develop new techniques and ways of making music with these very accessible instruments. We shared opportunities to learn about different cultures – or in many cases, for participants to re-connecting with their heritage.”


    Care for Creation - an inter-faith public art project run by Ballymena Church Members Forum, in Northern Ireland. The project was a celebration of our natural world, aiming to highlight environmental concerns and how people can all work together to “Care for Creation”. 

    “We believe the arts can connect, re-engage and unite communities. Participants created their own inspiring art pieces, to help share their works and messages and to engage with other people of the community.”


    Bridgend Eco-Bothy - a community-owned training and volunteer hub situated between three large housing estates, which are in the highest 15% on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

    “The commitment, creativity and confidence that has grown from the team and diverse range of volunteers involved is very special.”


    Art on the Hill Newport - an open house and open studio annual arts trail bringing together multiple venues over one weekend and, thus, increasing the community’s access to a diverse range of artistic activity. 

    “We enable participants to celebrate who they are, to promote themselves and their resources in our community, without prerequisite or agenda, other than to champion the cultural profile of Newport.”

    (chosen by the public in an online vote)

    Tullyvin Musical Society - a volunteer-led group with a genuine passion for musical theatre and a shared ambition to bring a little piece of Broadway to a small rural area in Southern Ulster.

    “Our initiative really has brought people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds together and we are now a central part of the community. This award is also an acknowledgement of our members’ dedication to the society and to making it sustainable into the future.”

    (chosen by the shortlisted groups)

    Sahyadri Friends Group -  a melting pot where about 250 families from different parts of India, with different cultural and religious backgrounds, come together to unite as one big family, helping one another making Coventry a home away from home. 

    “Our motto is to promote art and culture in all forms and help bring out the best in people through creative endeavours. The events and activities that are organised focus on the emotional wellbeing and mental health of the members.”


    The Spit It Out Project - an Edinburgh-based collective using art to heal trauma, fight stereotypes and encourage self-expression. The volunteers are working on a new way to perform and create content about difficult and taboo subjects.

    “We aim to educate and inform people about these topics, such as sex positivity, trauma and depression. We have already seen a huge amount of response from people who want to tell their stories.”



    Jestaminute Community Theatre - a Redditch-based CIC bringing together local heritage (needle making) through an original community pantomime show ('The Needlewitch is Coming'), in collaboration with Redditch East Aspiring Communities CIC (REACH).

    “Participant feedback was largely around feeling improvements in self-esteem and confidence, but also around enjoyment, losing themselves in the moment. Audiences expressed enjoyment and appreciation of the work undertaken by OYWC, one person saying ‘it’s the best bit of community work I have ever seen’.”


    Moon Base Projects - a safe, positive environment for people to express themselves creatively through the arts run by The Black Box, Belfast.

    “Moon Base is an open, democratic space where everyone is welcome. Here, everyone’s voice can be heard, listened to, and encouraged to shout louder!”


    The Spit It Out Project - an Edinburgh-based collective using art to heal trauma, fight stereotypes and encourage self-expression. The volunteers are working on a new way to perform and create content about difficult and taboo subjects.

    “We aim to educate and inform people about these topics, such as sex positivity, trauma and depression. We have already seen a huge amount of response from people who want to tell their stories.”


    Avant Cymru - a hip hop theatre company, based in the South Wales Valleys, developed in a response to a lack of learning provision in the area. 

    “We are a dyslexic-run organisation creating opportunities locally and nationally and touring internationally and we recognized that there was a lack of provision for learning in RCT.”


    Robin Simpson, Chief Executive of Creative Lives said:

    People constantly amaze us. People are inherently creative, resourceful and determined. Even faced with the unique challenges that 2020 has presented, people have responded creatively and innovatively to try to make life better for their local communities across the UK and Ireland. Volunteer-led local creative cultural activities have never felt more vital than now. The things people achieve through their own creativity and voluntary endeavour, often with little support or resources, are truly amazing and make a massive difference to the lives of their friends, neighbours and communities. The groups and projects celebrated by the 2020 Creative Lives Awards demonstrate the incredible force for good represented by local voluntary arts groups in almost every local community, all year round.


    Pauline Tambling CBE, England Convenor, Creative Lives, said:

    We were very incredibly impressed with this year’s nominations for our Creative Lives Awards in England. Together the shortlist demonstrated ambition, diversity and inclusivity across all parts of the country. Our winner, The Joy of Sound, impressed the judges with its commitment not just to music making and outreach but to fostering the skill of musical instrument making too. Jestaminute Community Theatre in Redditch combined local heritage in needle making with storytelling and including local people from 5 to 75 years old. 

    Sahyadri Friends Group is the well-deserved winner of the Peer Award for Excellence, recognised by other groups on the shortlist, and demonstrates how a single coffee morning can expand to reach over a whole community with regular cultural activities ranging from yoga and dance, to craft and jewellery making. They are all inspirational winners -  truly in the spirit of our awards.

    Denis Stewart, former Ireland Chair of Creative Lives, said:

    For a decade now, the annual Creative Lives Awards Ceremony has been a highlight in the calendar of voluntary cultural creativity across the islands of Britain and Ireland. Every year a new set of amazing volunteer-led initiatives in local places come to light – uplifting stories of people making common cause for the good.

    It’s a privilege for me to offer congratulations to all those from across Ireland who were short-listed for Creative Lives Awards this year. Special congratulations to the Ireland winner, Care for Creation, and the runner-up initiative, Moon Base.  And it’s also a great pleasure to congratulate Tullyvin Musical Society, winners of the People's Choice Award.

    To borrow the title of an award-winning work of fiction (by Richard Powers), the Creative Lives Award winners - and indeed all those creative initiatives short-listed - are ‘the overstory'. They remind us in difficult times of all that is going on across these islands, unseen by most and without fanfare.

    Jill Miller, Scotland Convenor, Creative Lives, said:

    It was a real pleasure to join the judging panel selecting this year’s Creative Lives Award winners for Scotland. Although we had our work cut out, with such an inspirational shortlist to choose from, we felt that both Bridgend Eco-Bothy and The Spit it Out Project had achieved something very special within their respective communities.

    Scotland Runners-Up, The Spit it Out Project is a collective of 12 volunteers who use their wide range of skills to arrange visual and performance art that tackles difficult and taboo subjects, providing a platform for discussions around mental health and sexual trauma.

    While our Scotland Winners, Bridgend Eco-Bothy saw over 40 volunteers from all walks of life come together and work creatively to build a unique ‘off-grid’ building for the whole community to use. We wish both projects every success for the future.

    Helen Keatley, Wales Convenor, Creative Lives, said:

    Art on the Hill offered participation opportunities to a very wide and diverse community, within an area of Newport which continues to experience social and economic difficulties. Visitors are welcomed, so that they were made aware of the diversity and nature – and creativity - of their neighbouring communities. The model appears to be sustainable, and with potential for further development and could also be rolled out in other areas in Wales. 

    Avant Cymru moves towards making Hip Hop a vehicle to encourage young people to mix, get to know each other, improve confidence and help break down barriers. It gives them an opportunity to express themselves in possibly a more up-to-date and appealing medium. The project has already established an impressive network, and is highly deserving of recognition.

    The Creative Lives Awards

    The Creative Lives Awards (formerly the Epic Awards) were set up in 2010 by Creative Lives (formerly Voluntary Arts), an organisation that works across the UK and Ireland to promote, support and champion the voluntary creative cultural activity. The Awards celebrate the achievement of voluntary arts groups across the UK and Ireland, by recognising the skill, innovation and hard work that goes into their activities.

    The voluntary arts sector is huge, incorporating drama groups, choirs, knitting circles, orchestras, dance troupes, quilters, embroiderers, and much, much more. Over 63,000 voluntary arts groups operate across the UK and Ireland, and their contribution to lives in their local communities cannot be underestimated. The Creative Lives Awards are here to shine a spotlight on their work, and to inspire others to get involved.

    Previous winners:


    England Winner - The Bureau Centre for the Arts, Blackburn

    England Runner-upDrama Express, Cornwall

    Ireland Winner - Lagan Currachs, Belfast

    Ireland Runner-upOriel Traditional Orchestra, Armagh, Louth, Meath and Monaghan

    Scotland Winner - Musicians in Exile, Glasgow

    Scotland Runner-up - 24 Carat Gold, Edinburgh

    Wales Winner - The Wallich: Homeless on Film, Cardiff

    Wales Runner-upHeritage Theatr Cymru

    People's Choice Award Winner - Oriel Traditional Orchestra

    Celebrating Diversity AwardKirrie Connections, Kirriemuir

    Peer Award for Excellence - Up Men, Stoke on Trent

    Local Hero Award - Arthur Howie