Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council's Executive Member for Skills Culture and Leisure has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award recognising his work as a champion of the arts.
He has made it onto a shortlist of four to win the accolade of Best Arts Champion (Councillor category) in the Hearts for the Arts annual awards. The shortlist also includes councillors from Leeds, Luton, and Wandsworth councils.
The Hearts for the Arts awards celebrate the unsung heroes of local authorities who are championing the arts - often within a climate of financial challenge.
Councillor Rahman's nomination for the award recognises his role as a passionate advocate for the arts and the positive impact of cultural investments on Manchester.
This includes proactively encouraging the involvement of his fellow councillors in the arts by ensuring there are members acting as board representatives on the city's major cultural institutions.
He also regularly challenges officers and cultural partners to work harder to change, adapt and better promote the city's cultural offer to reach all residents, particularly those who don't usually participate.
Councillor Rahman is also praised for his recognition of the significant contribution culture plays in the growth and economic success of the city, as well as the wider benefits to residents from the significant growth in the tourist industry, creating jobs and opportunities, and making Manchester a vibrant place to live.
Councillor Rahman's nomination for the Hearts for the Arts award acknowledges the work he has done to establish a local cultural education partnership; helping the city to achieve UNESCO City of Literature; setting up the Festival of Manchester to celebrate the diverse cultural life of the city's many different communities; and also founding the now annual Manchester Culture Awards to recognise the very best of culture, cultural organisations and partnerships in the city.
Hearts for the Arts judges said: "Councillor Rahman's focus on inclusivity and access for all parts of Manchester's diverse community has challenged arts and cultural organisations to work differently and reach new levels of engagement. He has also championed the cultural contribution of the city on the international stage.
"It is all the more wonderful when someone without a background in arts practice is so convinced by the power of culture."
Responding to being shortlisted, Councillor Rahman said:
“Until a few years ago I wasn't particularly interested in culture, could take it or leave it, and I wasn’t really aware of its wider benefits or value. Things could not be more different now, and I am passionate about sharing the value and importance of culture with others. It's an honour to have made it onto the shortlist for the awards, and winner or not, I will continue to shout loud and push hard for the arts and for culture and for access to it for all."
The winners of the Hearts for the Arts awards will be revealed on February 14th.
For more information on the awards see forthearts.org.uk