A STUDENT-run art gallery is up for a prestigious national award.

DART, in Market Street, Darwen, is one of only 26 groups in Great Britain and Ireland to be short-listed for The Epic Awards – set up by Voluntary Arts to celebrate the work of voluntary and amateur arts groups.

The gallery opened in June 2010 after a group of students from Darwen Aldridge Community Academy won a £35,000 grant from the Youth Opportunities Capital Fund.

Work is exhibited by students and local artists, and all creations on display are individually priced and available for purchase, with a percentage of the selling price going back into the social enterprise.

A teaching space on the first floor provides space for artistic workshops, allowing local schools and the wider community to develop their creative skills.

DART manager Catherine Jackman said: “Our aim with DART was to engage the community with the arts and improve local creative confidence.

“We felt that Darwen deserved more opportunities to showcase its talents and hoped to provide a platform for local artists and community groups.”

She added: “I would like to say a big thank-you to all those people and community groups who have worked with Dart in our first year.

“All these exhibitions have been produced and shown to celebrate Darwen and the town’s talents.

“If DART could win the Epic Award’s People’s Vote, it would mean a great deal to us and would be a reflection on just how brilliant Darwen’s creative community is.”

Since opening, DART has worked to encompass all aspects of the community.

Projects include working with Age UK and Circle of Friends to host an intergenerational work-shop programme and exhibition called Vintage Valentines, and classes focused on promoting recovery and wellbeing of people who have mental health conditions.

The winner of the Epic Awards will receive a cash prize, mentoring on governance, organisational structure and volunteering with an expert consultant, and a place on the People’s Voice Media course.