Councillor wins top arts award 

Hearts for the arts

Former Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris has won a prestigious national award for his work to champion the arts in the borough.

Cllr Morris was named ‘Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Councillor’, in the National Campaign for the Arts' (NCA) Hearts For The Arts Awards 2018.

The awards celebrate the work of councils, councillors and council officers who have overcome financial challenges to ensure the arts stay at the centre of community life.

Cllr Morris stepped down as council leader in December after 11 years at the helm.

The NCA said that under his leadership, Bolton Council “has championed and invested in the arts, committing millions of pounds to redeveloping and expanding the Octagon Theatre, the Albert Halls and the Bolton Museum”.

It added that despite the austerity the council has faced, the Octagon Theatre is one of the very few producing theatres not to have received any reduction in local government funding in the last ten years.

The NCA recognised that, as well as investment and regeneration, Cllr Morris “ensures that arts and culture are well represented in the borough’s leadership and strategic planning”.

There is a culture portfolio holder at cabinet level; a cultural strategy for the borough, and cultural representatives involved in a range of council partnerships and decisions.

Samuel West, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts said: “Among an excellent set of nominees, Cliff Morris stands out for consistently speaking for the arts and putting his money where his mouth is. He gets it, and through his leadership, so do Bolton Council.

“Their support of theatre, concert halls, museums and festivals shows how an enlightened and committed council can put joy and art at the heart of their community.”

Cllr Cliff Morris added: “I am really pleased to have won this award. The arts are an incredibly important part of Bolton - arts and culture brings a lot of benefit to our borough, it is an important part of our heritage and are at the heart of our communities.

“The Albert Halls restoration, investment in our hugely popular Bolton Museum and our commitment to transform the Octagon Theatre has set the foundations for many generations to come.

“This award is a result of a lot of dedication by many people and is a real team effort.”

Nominations were received for awards in four categories: Best Local Authority Arts Initiative, Best Local Authority Arts Champion - Councillor, Best Local Authority Arts Champion - Officer, and Best Local Authority Arts Project Encouraging Community Cohesion. This year the campaign received more nominations than ever before and from all four UK nations.

The nominations were judged by a panel which was comprised of: Samuel West (Chair of the NCA), Rachel Wood (Arts Development Officer, Oldham Borough Council AND 2017 winner), Roy Williams, OBE (playwright and NCA Board Member), Phillip Pullman (author), David Lan (playwright and director), Josie Long (comedian) and Maria Balshaw (Director of Tate).

The 2018 Hearts For The Arts Awards were delivered by the NCA and UK Theatre, in partnership with Culture Counts, the Local Government Association (LGA), Arts Development UK (ADUK) and What Next?.

For more information on the winners visit

View all news articles

Media contact
National Campaign for the Arts
020 7438 2040