Derry writer receives Arts Council Award
A Derry woman’s gamble of swapping life as a BBC journalist to go it alone in the world of creative writing has finally paid off. After five years of freelancing, Felicity McCall is on the verge of securing a publishing contract for her first novel and has just received an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Award to assist her work.
Felicity has spent the past five years following her passion - writing plays and novels. During this time she has earned a living by working as a freelance journalist, tutor and PR professional. However, the Arts Council has just awarded her £1,000 through its Support for the Individual Artist Programme, to dedicate the next three months entirely to her writing. This will allow Felicity to finish her fifth play for Derry’s Playhouse, focus on another commission for a screen play and perhaps, most excitingly, to secure a publishing deal for her first novel with Guildhall Press.
“The Arts Council award gives me great encouragement,” enthused Felicity. “It is professional recognition from people I respect very much. Leaving my job with the BBC five years ago was a step into the unknown but I thought to myself, if I don’t do it now, I never will. The award will buy me time to concentrate on finishing my first novel without having to be concerned about the daily business of earning a living.”
Felicity continued, “It’s a busy and dynamic time for the arts in the North West. I have been able to attend so many workshops over the past few years to develop my writing practice. It is wonderful to see the support given to these projects by bodies like the Arts Council, and encouraging to see so many people attending them.”
Paul Hippsley from Guildhall Press commented, “We are currently in negotiations with Felicity as regards publishing her first novel, which aims to bring quality writing to a mainstream audience. We are delighted that she has received the Arts Council Award - the professional level of her work speaks for itself!”
Chairman of the Arts Council, Rosemary Kelly commented, “The Support for the Individual Artist Programme was established by the Arts Council to extend opportunities for artists living in Northern Ireland to develop their work and practice. I am delighted that Felicity’s award will enable her to complete her novel, which when published, will greatly enhance her status as a writer.”
The Arts Council’s Support for the Individual Artist Programme caters for just about everything that an artist could require, from basic grants of a few hundred pounds made available to buy equipment and materials, to larger travel awards, international residencies and assistance with profiling work on an international platform.