Leading artists honoured with £15,000 awards by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Acclaimed artists, writer, Susan McKay, poet, Moyra Donaldson, composer, Deirdre Gribbin and musician/composer, Neil Martin, have each been presented with Major Individual Awards (MIA), worth £15,000 each, from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funding, the highest honour bestowed by the body responsible for the development of the arts in the region.

The prestigious awards are given in recognition of the contribution each of the artists has made to creative life in Northern Ireland and make it possible for these artists to produce a substantial, ambitious project that will make a significant impact to the development of their artistic careers.

Image: (L-R) Four leading artists, writer, Susan McKay, poet, Moyra Donaldson, musician/composer, Neil Martin and composer, Deirdre Gribbin, pictured with Ciaran Scullion, Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Each of the artists will now use the award to develop a series of new works.

Award-winning journalist, Susan McKay, from Derry-Londonderry, will use the MIA award to write a new book about borders provisionally called, Outside in the Navy Dark, from a poem by Leontia Flynn.
Writer and poet, Moyra Donaldson, from Newtownards, County Down, will use the MIA award towards research and development of a new poetry collection, based on a theme of ‘mothers and daughters’, with publisher, Doire press. Composer, Deirdre Gribbin, from Belfast, will use the MIA award to complete two strands of work, Dark Matter Hunting and Kindersang: Outsider Child. Deirdre will work with astrophysicist, Professor Priya Natarjan, a leading expert on Dark Matter, as source material for the first composition, Dark Matter Hunting with the completed work due to be performed in 2020 at West Cork Music, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope. Musician and composer, Neil Martin, from Belfast, will use the MIA award to compose a new violin concerto, in three movements, for violinist, Maebh Martin, to be premiered in autumn 2020 to mark the launch of a new building housing the music department at St Andrew’s University, Scotland.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“Congratulations to Susan McKay, Moyra Donaldson, Deirdre Gribbin and Neil Martin, four immensely talented artists who have already made an enormous contribution to the arts in Northern Ireland. Each will benefit greatly from being able to take time out to concentrate purely on these innovative new projects with the financial backing they need to produce work of lasting value. This award will help to cement their national and international reputations as artists, and strengthen the positive cultural profile of Northern Ireland, both home and abroad.”

The four join a distinguished list of artists who have previously benefited from the Major Individual Artist award, including writers; Carol Moore, Rosemary Jenkinson, Malachi O’Doherty, Jimmy McAleavey, Anne Devlin, Carlo Gébler, Damian Gorman, Patricia Craig, Sinéad Morrissey, Glenn Patterson and Owen McCafferty; playwright Shannon Sickles (Yee), performance artist, Sinéad O’Donnell, visual artists, Mairéad McClean, Rita Duffy, Susan MacWilliam and Cara Murphy; composers, Ed Bennett, Piers Hellawell, Ian Wilson, Elaine Agnew, Conor Mitchell and Deirdre McKay; musicians, Michael McHale and David Lyttle plus choreographer, Oona Doherty, among others.

Major Individual Artist awards form part of the wider Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP) which is administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland annually. As part of its continuing commitment to supporting the development of individual artists, the Arts Council made 209 SIAP awards to individual artists in 2019/20 totalling £567K.

Visit www.artscouncil-ni.org/funding for information on all funding opportunities.

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