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Canterbury hosts the launch of the Culture Awards which cover Thanet, Dover, Deal, Folkestone and east Kent

By Leo Whitlock

Culture and the arts form part of the lifeblood of east Kent.

And Thursday night saw the launch of the Culture Awards at Canterbury Christ Church University’s Augustine House in Canterbury to celebrate the very best in a sector that inspires, entertains and provides a major boost to the local economy.

Author Anthony Browne scooped last year's Canterbury Award which recognised his outstanding personal contribution to cultural life

This year the awards have been expanded with an eye on those in the commercial sector with an artistic bent with categories including best creative campaign, creative entrepreneur and a digital award.

Other new awards include best project involving children and young people and a special public vote award called Kent’s Cultural Icon presented by this year’s principal sponsor, the University of Kent.

Folk singer Luke Jackson from Chartham was last year's one to watch

In a second innovation, the awards are now open to creative professionals across the whole of east Kent instead of just the Canterbury district.

Liz Moran, co-chairman of Canterbury for Culture, the award organisers, says the changes are a natural progression.

She said: “Such has been the success of the Culture Awards there has been an increasing demand to develop and grow the awards to recognise the inspiring work happening across east Kent.

“We have also introduced new award categories to reflect our changing creative landscape and achievements in this innovative and exciting part of England.”

Anifest took home last year's Destination East Kent award

You can enter for an award from today and the closing date is May 9.

For 11 of the 13 awards, applicants enter online at thecultureawards.org and the winner of each award is selected a panel of expert judges.

The winners of two awards are selected by public vote.

These are the Kent’s cultural icon award, celebrating the University of Kent’s 50th anniversary and the East Kent people’s award sponsored by the KM Group which publishes this newspaper.

For these, members of the public can visit www.thecultureawards.org and vote for their choice.

This year's categories are: Kent's Cultural Icon; Creative Entrepreneur; the Experience Award; the Digital Award; the One To Watch Award; Best Creative Campaign; Best Project Involving Children and Young People; Best Project Involving the Wider Community; the Destination East Kent Award; the Artist Award; the East Kent People's Award; the Canterbury Award and the Cultural Champion Award.

The KM Group which operates this website is the media partner for the awards.

The 2014 culture award winners will be announced and presented at a gala event on Thursday, June 12, at the University of Kent’s Rutherford Hall.

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