Forty-four d/Deaf and disabled artists have been awarded £94,000 in funding to create new work and support them through the Covid-19 crisis.
The University of Atypical, on behalf of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Department for Communities, has awarded the grants from the d/Deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund 2020/21 at a time when artists’ potential to generate income has been seriously impacted by the closure of art galleries, theatres, music venues and other creative outlets.
Department for Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, said “Our local arts sector is so important in terms of the contribution it makes socially, creatively and economically to the lives of individuals, communities and wider society. I am therefore delighted that this funding has been awarded which will provide our local d/Deaf and disabled artists with much needed financial assistance throughout the current crisis. The support will help enable the artists to invest in developing their careers, improve their skills and buy equipment and materials.”
The 44 awards were made to individual artists with 41 receiving grants of £2,000 each. Three artists received grants of £4,000 each in recognition of the quality of their professional practice. They are musician and composer, Ruth McGinley from Belfast, filmmaker Jamie Baker from Comber, and painter Ciaran Magill from Newcastle.
Damien Coyle, CEO of the University of Atypical, said, “This funding is of vital importance as it provides much needed assistance to d/Deaf and disabled artists who are struggling for financial survival. This support underpins the role University of Atypical plays in facilitating career enhancement opportunities for and in promoting the work of d/Deaf and Disabled Artists. The awards recognise the important contribution d/Deaf and disabled artists make to our society and they will create a legacy beyond the current pandemic as the visual arts and crafts works produced through the commissions go on display at public venues across Northern Ireland.”
The d/Deaf and Disabled Artists Support Fund awarded grants in two categories, Firstly, commissioning new work from visual arts and crafts practitioners with commissioned work being made available for exhibition in public spaces including special educational needs sector schools, libraries and disability organisations. Secondly, career development grants from practitioners in all other disciplines.
Grants will enable d/Deaf and Disabled Artists and performers to buy time to create, purchase equipment or materials, and access mentoring and training to enhance their professional practice and career development.
Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is committed to improving access to the arts for people with disabilities and to providing meaningful opportunities for disabled artists to develop their professional artistic careers. We welcome this critically-needed funding for 44 artists which will help them create new work and support them at a time when many artists have been left struggling as a result of the pandemic.”