If your view of Norfolk is coloured by Elyot's disparagement of its landscape in the first act of Private Lives, the Norfolk Arts Awards which ushered in the Hostry Festival on 26 October are a suitable correction. East Anglia overall is well-endowed with past and present artistitc heritage and thi proved to be a timely celebration of some of those achievemens – not to mention encouragement for the future.

Three organisations were short-listed for the Theatre Award – Norwich's Theatre Royal, the Sheringham Little Theatre and the Thalia Theatre Company. William Galinsky, artistic director of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival presented the award to Debbie Thompson, the Little Theatre's own artistic director. The Dance Award went to John Cushing, producer-director of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular; it was presented by Peter Wilson, the Theatre Royal's chief executive. The runners-up were Full Tilt and State of Flux.

In these hard financial times for all aspects of art, two awards seem particularly appropriate. There were three main contenders for the Fosters Solicitors Bsiness & the Arts Award, presented by senior partner Iain McClay – EastPublishing for design and branding support to the Norwich Puppet Theatre, May Gurney for its sponsorship of Norfolk & Norwich Festival free events and the winner, the John Jarrold Trust for its county-wide support of arts groups and organisations. Caroline Jarrold accepted the award.

The Hy Kurzner Arts Entrepreneur Award was won by the Bo Nanafana Social Club, presented by Wally Webb to Helen Stoneley and Tristan Roche. Delaval Astley for the Holt Festival and Richard Penguin for his promotion of local musicians were the runners-up. Hostry patron and Norwich Assembly House general manager [Mike King presented the Music Award to Aude Green, who established the King of Hearts venue for baroque and contemporary music (forced to close in 2010 due to funding cuts). Burnish Shed and Laura Cannell were also short-listed.

Eastern Daily Press sponsored the People's Choice Award. Senior reporter Emma Knights presented it to William Galinsky on behalf of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Gallery Plus in Wells-next-the-Sea and SeaChange Arts of Great Yarmouth were the runners-up. Future Radio, in the person of arts co-ordinator Kate Roma, won the Broadcast & Press Award in competition with the training programmes of BBC Voices and poetry publisher The Rialto. Helen McDermott of BBC Radio Norfolk made the presentation.

Over 60 years separate the Lifetime Contribution of Local Arts Award, presented by Susan Seddon and the Peter Barrow Bursary Award for the Best Newcomer. In his acceptance speech, veteran critic and actor Neville Miller made a heart-felt plea for the continuation of arts education in schools with its importance for the development of young people. 18-year old Charlie Skinner from Cromer is a member of the Norwich Young People's Theatre and the bursary will pay for audition support while he aplies for drama school entrance.

There were three further awards. The Bernardine Coverley Nature Writing Prize was presented by the Bookhive Bookshop founder Henry Layte to Ashley Ford and Keiron Pim. The Visual Arts Award, presented by Colin Self was won by figurative painter Chris Kendrick with Anteros Arts and Print to the People as runners-up. Caroline Jarrold presented the Education & Community Award to artist and photographer Anita Staff; the Norfolk & Norwich Community Arts in Harmony Project and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital Arts Project were the other contenders.