John Leonard, Producer of The Mike Harding Show, explains how the awards are chosen and why they are important.
The BBC Folk Awards is an occasion to celebrate folk music and the people who make it. The event was started in 1999 as a way of celebrating the folk world's achievements, an opportunity to get artists and industry people together and thank them for their work over the previous twelve months. It's also a chance to showcase to the media just some of the artists and music that we, the people who work in the industry, have been particularly proud of during the year.
The awards themselves are voted for by a panel of around 170 broadcasters, folk journalists, festival organisers, agents, promoters etc; people whose job it is to make judgement of one sort or another about folk music during their daily work. The voting is in two stages: the first round is open and the panel can vote for anyone they like in each of the designated categories. These votes are collated and the top four artists in each category declared as nominees. The panel is then asked to vote again to choose an award winner in each category from these nominations.
We constantly aim to improve the Folk Awards, to maintain its credibility and increase its impact. I feel these are great times for folk music; it seems to be reaching a much larger audience and I'm delighted to see so many new names nominated this year. It's my favourite night of the year and, once again, thanks to BBC Radio 2 for its continuing support.