The BFI and some of the UK’s most iconic art galleries have joined forces to celebrate this year’s unheralded champions of the arts sector. The unique digital exhibition from The National Lottery will showcase 13 powerful and poignant portraits that have been captured by leading photographer Chris Floyd. The collection celebrates the remarkable individuals across the UK who continue to work tirelessly through the pandemic to bring creativity, enjoyment and enrichment through the arts to people in new ways. 

The National Lottery’s 2020 Portraits of the People can be visited throughout November on the websites and social media of The National Portrait Gallery, London; The National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; The MAC in Belfast, IKON Gallery in Birmingham; Summerhall in Edinburgh; Ty Pawb, Wrexham; Ruthin Craft Centre in Ruthin, Wales; and The Photographers’ Gallery in London.

In addition to the portraits, award-winning filmmaker Jayisha Patel, a beneficiary of the BFI NETWORK talent development programme, which is made possible by National Lottery funding, has documented Chris Floyd’s shoots with a behind-the-scenes short film. The piece looks at some of these amazing people and the stories behind them.

In a joint statement, Darren Henley, the CEO of Arts Council England, Iain Munro, CEO of Creative Scotland, Nick Capaldi, the CEO of the Arts Council of Wales, Roisin McDonough, the CEO of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Ben Roberts, the BFI’s Chief Executive, said: 

“People in the UK have a great love of creativity, art and culture. We know these things can bring us together, enrich our lives, support our emotional wellbeing, and make us happier. Throughout lockdown we’ve seen that in villages, towns and cities, people have continued to participate and enjoy the arts whether that’s at home, digitally, or through socially distanced activities within their communities. 

“Artists, arts and cultural organisations, and the individuals within them, have been the driving force behind this. Harnessing vital funding from The National Lottery, they’ve set up creative projects both locally and nationwide for people to enjoy. We want to thank them for making life that little bit better for many people, and we also want to thank the National Lottery players themselves for playing a critical role in supporting the arts during these challenging times. Every week National Lottery players raise an incredible £30 million for good causes, enriching public life in every corner of the UK.”

The 13 people honoured in the project are:

  • Vic Brown, New Urban Era, West Midlands
  • Shamim Azad, Apples and Snakes, London
  • Liz Treacher, Open Book, Brora, Scotland
  • Laura Aldridge and Leanne Ross, KMAdotcom, Midlothian
  • Dr Jenny Elliott, Arts Centre, Belfast and across Northern Ireland
  • Mojisola Elufowoju, Utopia Theatre, Sheffield
  • Penny Rawlings, The Bristol Ensemble
  • Beth James, Square Peg Arts, Kent
  • Abbie Canning, Derby Quad
  • Jennifer Hill, Welsh National Opera
  • Maria Connolly, 1 Eleven Theatre Company, Belfast
  • Anouar Kassim MBE, MKIAHC, Milton Keynes Islamic Arts, Heritage and Culture
  • Patrick Joseph, Mask Makers, North Wales