Guest Blog: Vicky Ireland On Action for Children's Arts Award Winners

Guest Blog: Vicky Ireland On Action for Children's Arts Award Winners
The Kanneh-Mason family

Today, the charity Action for Children's Arts (ACA) will present Stuart and Kadie Kanneh-Mason with the 2018 JM Barrie Award, recognising a lifetime's achievement in children's arts. ACA has decided to honour Stuart and Kadie in recognition of all parents who selflessly dedicate themselves to their children's artistic education.

Stuart and Kadie are parents to the famous 'Kanneh-Mason' ensemble: Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu - seven extraordinarily talented musical siblings who first came to the nation's attention on Britain's Got Talent in 2015.

Sheku has since achieved international fame: winning BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016, and in 2018 topping the charts with his first album Inspiration and playing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

All the children have won huge praise and recognition - and ACA believes it is important to also recognise and praise their parents! It is therefore ACA's immense delight in honouring Kadie and Stuart with our JM Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award. They are great ambassadors for the inspirational role music education can play in nurturing childhood.

ACA also presented three other awards: The Outstanding Contribution Award and two Members' Awards. The Outstanding Contribution Award was presented to Sticky Fingers Arts, who have provided 20 years of ground-breaking early years arts provision in Northern Ireland.

The organisation provides a powerful voice for the rights of children to engage in the arts. They are committed to increasing opportunities for as many children as possible to access and participate in the highest-quality, professionally run, age-appropriate arts programmes.

Their projects include the Sticky Fingers International Arts Festival for Young People, launched in Newry in 2007; the multi-award-winning Giant's Lair; and the hugely popular Imaginarium, which opened last year and was designed by children for children.

The Member's Awards were presented to GOSH Arts and children's choral conductor and workshop leader Helen Smee. The GOSH Arts programme is run by Caroline Moore and Susie Hall. They work to bring the arts into Great Ormond Street hospital - ranging from work that thrills and lifts spirits, to participatory programmes that entertain and inspire the young patients.

Helen Smee is the founder of Voices of London Festival, and is also extremely active in maintaining opportunities and enthusiasm for music in state primary schools. She is currently working with schools in three parts of London, bringing children together to sing an original choral piece in a series of concerts.

BAFTA Young Presenter Tianna Moore skilfully presented the awards ceremony, and the JM Barrie Award was handed to Stuart and Kadie by seven-year-old Angelina Sinclair, after Julian Lloyd Webber had read his citation.

ACA has been presenting the JM Barrie Award since its foundation 20 years ago. Previous winners include Michael Morpurgo OBE (2016), Dame Jacqueline Wilson (2015), Bernard Cribbins OBE (2014) and Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE (2012). The charity is committed to campaigning for access to arts education for all children 0-12, and celebrating the work of practitioners who deliver children's arts.

Photo credit: Eddie Hutton-Mills

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