Skilled disabled and deaf artists encouraged to apply for Arts & Disability Awards

Artists with disability and deaf artists are being encouraged to take advantage of a cross-border grants scheme designed to nurture and develop their artistic talent.

The Arts and Disability Awards Ireland (ADAI) scheme is managed by the Belfast-based Arts and Disability Forum (ADF) on behalf of both Arts Councils. The deadline date for receipt of completed applications is June 19.

ADF Chief Executive Chris Ledger said it was a competitive scheme that funds work of the highest artistic calibre and is open to disabled and deaf people working across the entire artistic spectrum.

“Disabled and deaf people can have fruitful and successful careers in the arts. The ADAI grants support ambitious ideas from artists who are on a personal career path – in any art form.

“The scheme is open to practitioners with all types of impairment, including unseen conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and mental health conditions. Some artists have never regarded themselves as disabled and so aren’t sure if they qualify for an award. If people aren’t sure they are eligible, they are welcome to contact us for advice” she added.

The ADF offers appropriate support and guidance to all applicants during the application process and makes adjustment to allow for individual circumstance for example, the ADF is willing to accept applications in BSL or ISL if necessary and paperwork is available in Braille.

The ADF stresses that the scheme is very competitive – of 73 applications received last year, only 12 were funded. Applicants need to propose creative ideas that will make them stand out from other applicants; it is important to give evidence of talent by supplying quality examples of previously completed work.

Each individual artist can apply for a grant of up to £5,000 to help develop their work. Through this funding, artists with disability have produced work of the highest artistic quality and have even won international recognition. For example, as a result of work funded via the ADAI scheme, painter Maurice Orr gained a prestigious commission from the Cultural Olympiad.

Maurice said: “Without the support of the ADAI grant and the Arts & Disability Forum, my career would not have taken the direction it has.  The grant gave me the confidence to go forward and embrace new opportunities that I would not have considered otherwise.”

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Director of Arts Development, Noirin McKinney said: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is pleased to provide funding towards the Arts and Disability Awards Ireland scheme, a fund which is available to artists with any type of disability to help develop their work. This fund recognises those artists, working across all artistic spectrums, who produce artistic works to the highest calibre.”

The Arts Council Ireland Director Orlaith McBride said “The Arts and Disability Awards Scheme is an important means of assisting Irish artists with disabilities to make work and, in some cases, to access the suite of bursaries and awards offered directly by the Arts Council. The Arts Council is pleased to work with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and with the Arts and Disability Forum to make these awards possible.”

For more information on how to apply for funding, or get an opinion on the eligibility of your idea, contact the ADF on 02890239450 or .To download an application form, criteria, FAQs and guidelines, go to