The MHK newly tasked with overseeing the island’s arts and culture would like to see a new awards ceremony to celebrate creative brilliance.

Four weeks ago Sarah Maltby took on her new role and also became the new chairman of the Isle of Man Arts Council as part of her duties.

It is a far cry from her previous role in the Treasury where tightening the purse strings were the order of the day rather than inspiring and nurturing artists and performers.

‘I came from the Treasury which is very black and white into a new world full of colour,’ she said. ‘I enjoyed my time there and the social responsibility I had but I am now meeting people with the same passion of the island’s culture I have.

‘I am only in this role for two and a half years until the election so I really feel the pressure.

‘I don’t always think we celebrate what we have in the Isle of Man enough. We have sports awards so it would also be nice to have a culture awards.

‘There are a lot of talented and passionate people within the arts and culture scene but they don’t often come together and tend to do their own thing. There is the Guild but they are competing against each other. Something like an awards ceremony would help everyone celebrate together.’

Sarah’s in-tray will see her launch the student bursaries at the beginning of May with six annual awards and continue to oversee the domestic travel grant to help Manx artists, dancers and musicians compete abroad. Further schemes are set to be launched to mark the Arts Council’s 60th anniversary next year.

An important part of the role will be to encourage young people to thrive in the creative arts.

‘My background is in schools and education so it will be nice coming back to my roots to some extent,’ she said. ‘For me, it is about inspiring the next generation of young and creative people. We need to invest in them and champion their cause.

As chair of the Arts Council, one of Sarah’s biggest aims is to make shows and events more accessible to everyone.

‘The arts can sometimes be seen as elitist but I believe it is very important to ensure it is available to all,’ she said.

‘In the Arts Council we have a subsidised ticketing initiative with the VillaGaiety this year which has seen more than 1,000 free tickets allocated to the community through local charities.’

With a cost of living crisis still biting and money tight, some will argue heading out to shows or art galleries are a low priority.

But Sarah said: ‘If we don’t look after people’s mental health and wellbeing then it will cost more in the long run.

‘Allowing people to express themselves through art or show their talent can go a long way as does people enjoying arts and culture.

‘You are providing people with a therapeutic environment. It is fundamental we work together for the “gross domestic happiness” of the islanders.’