The nation's most celebrated stars, including actors James McAvoy, Kate Dickie, Alan Cumming and Maureen Beattie have been shortlisted for Scotland's Cultural Oscars - the inaugural Sunday Herald Culture Award.

Those in the running also include Sam Heughan, who rose to fame as Jamie Fraser in cult hit Outlander and Rose Leslie, best known for her roles as Gwen Dawson in Downton Abbey and Ygritte in Game of Thrones.

Liz Lochhead, formerly Scotland’s national poet and novelist Janice Galloway are finalists in the Author of the Year category while Musical Group of the Year sees a diverse range of finalists including Scottish Opera and folk band Shooglenifty.

Visual artist Ellie Harrison, who sparked controversy earlier this year with her year-long project on the Glasgow effect is also a finalist along with Scottish Ballet’s principle dancers Sophie Martin and Christopher Harrison who are nominated in the Best Dance Performer category. Scottish Ballet has also scooped three of the four nominations in the Live Performance of the Year category. Celtic Connections and the Belladrum Festival, held near Inverness are among finalists for the Cultural Event of the Year award.

The awards, which received 120 entries across 11 categories – including Best Actor (screen and theatre), Best Musical Artist and Best Musical Group – feature some of the most prominent people, events and places in Scotland as well as up and coming artists and groups from across the country.

Winners will be announced at a lavish ceremony to be held at the Glasgow venue SWG3 on July 7. An additional Judges Choice award will also be announced at the award ceremony.

Alan Bissett, award-winning novelist, playwright and judge said: “It was really enjoyable to be a judge on the inaugural Sunday Herald Culture Awards. Some massive names were recognised but we’ve also shone a light on some smaller, less known but exciting up-and-comers.

“Overall, the great breadth and depth of talent in Scotland became obvious. I suppose it would be odd to wish everyone good luck, given that I know who’s won, but I do hope everyone has a great night and feels proud of having been shortlisted in their field. Every nomination is richly deserved.”

Pauline Miller Judd, Dean of Arts and Creative Industries, at Edinburgh Napier University, which is sponsoring the Cultural Event of the Year category, added: “The Sunday Herald Culture Awards is the perfect platform to reward those truly remarkable Scottish events that bring people together from home and abroad.”

Adam Cameron, business manager of Cameron Presentations, sponsoring the Best Performing Arts Venue award for which Glasgow’s Glad Café, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Tron Theatre and Banchory’s Woodend Barn are nominated, said: “The venue category attracted a high calibre of entries, showcasing the fantastic spaces for Scottish culture to come to life. We wish all nominees the very best of luck.”

Peter Griffiths, marketing manager of CalMac, sponsoring the Best Live Performance Category, added: “Considering the very high quality of live cultural events and performances in Scotland every year, making it into the last four is noteworthy and a significant achievement.

“Clearly we are going to have a night to remember at the awards and we will be thrilled to be there alongside such a diverse gathering of the cream of Scotland’s cultural scene.”

Sunday Herald editor Neil Mackay, an author and chairman of the judging panel, said: “The Sunday Herald has championed the Scottish arts since we launched in 1999. It is a delight now to be able to launch these inaugural awards to recognise and celebrate the incredible homegrown talent that this nation of ours offers to the world. I'm grateful to everyone who has helped so far in establishing these awards, and look forward to unveiling the winners from such a brilliant shortlist and showcasing their amazing work once again. I'm also looking forward to what I think will be a great after party.”

For more information please visit our dedicated event site,