Hear We Are has been shortlisted from over 3750 organisations across the UK to to reach the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards, which celebrates the inspirational projects and people who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.
There are 17 shortlisted finalists from across the UK, who are competing in a four-week public vote from 11th September to 9th October to be named the National Lottery Project of the Year. Winners will receive a £5000 cash prize for their project and an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.
Hear We Are is a National Lottery funded, Deaf-led project exploring the perspectives of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, particularly those working in or excluded from the creative sector. Examining how participants' perspectives and experiences can come together to make positive change, they're working to improve access to the sector for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people by opening up dialogue and creating much-needed structures of support and presentation.
Since the project began in 2021 the team, led by Deaf performance artist and creative consultant Jonny Cotsen, has worked with Chapter to establish a network of safe spaces for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people across Wales to meet, share experiences and test out creative ideas. Building regional groups, led by Deaf creative mentors, the team has helped to nurture and develop talent, encouraging a more accessible arts sector for all, with participants invited to share their lived experiences to inform and shape events.
During Deaf Awareness Week in May, the team organised a three-day event, ‘Deaf Together’, which was the first Deaf-led festival in Wales and showcased the incredible creative talent of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. It’s hoped that the festival will become an annual event with the next one planned for September 2024. To make this a reality we are now asking for your support. Please vote for us to win the National Lottery Awards Project of the Year 2023.
Hannah Firth, Artistic Director/ Co-Director at Chapter Arts Centre, said: “It feels really special to be nominated for this prestigious award, as well as to be recognised for all the work we do to make the arts more accessible for Deaf and hard of hearing people in Wales. Hear We Are has been vital in enabling Deaf people to feel more connected, confident and visible across the arts sector. We still have a long way to go but hope we can support more people through this award, creating a more equitable and inclusive future for everyone. Please vote for us!”
Jonny Cotsen, lead artist for Hear We Are continued: "I had a vision to develop and curate a deaf-led programme that bridges the gap between our communities, to have those big conversations in safe and accessible spaces. as part of Hear We Are, the Deaf Together festival was a celebration of unity, diversity, and creativity. Connecting with Deaf and hearing communities alike as we came together to honour the richness of Deaf culture. I am really proud that Hear We Are did exactly that and we are really excited to be nominated for the National Lottery Awards to make this work more visible. We might be a small country in Wales but this work is so much needed to see a more inclusive society. Please vote for us to see that change that we want to create in the world"
Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, added: “We’re so pleased to have received so many nominations highlighting the excellent work that National Lottery-funded projects are doing up and down the UK. It’s no secret that times are tough, so it’s great to see so many people and projects dedicating so much time and energy into giving something back to their communities.
It’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that the work of these amazing projects is made possible”
To vote for Hear We Are please go to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards. Or simply use the Twitter hashtag #NLAHearWeAre. Voting runs from 9am on 11 September until 12pm on 9 October.