Arts Council award honours three major artists
A playwright and two composers have each been presented with Major Individual Awards (MIA) from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the highest honour bestowed by the agency responsible for the development of the arts in the region.
The recipients of the prestigious awards, worth £15,000 each, include composer and writer, Conor Mitchell, composer, Deirdre McKay and playwright, Jimmy McAleavey, in recognition of the contribution each of the artists has made to creative life in Northern Ireland. The funding awards make it possible for these artists to take time out to dedicate to their creative work and to produce a substantial and ambitious project that will make a significant contribution to the development of their professional careers.
The three join a distinguished list of artists who have previously benefited from the award, including writers, Carlo Gébler, Damian Gorman, Patricia Craig, Sinéad Morrissey, Glenn Patterson and Owen McCafferty, leading contemporary visual artists, Rita Duffy, Susan MacWilliam, Cara Murphy, celebrated composer, Elaine Agnew and acclaimed pianist, Michael McHale, among others.
Congratulating this year’s recipients, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:
“All three of these artists have already made an impressive contribution to the arts in Northern Ireland. Each will benefit greatly from being able to take time out to concentrate purely on these exciting, innovative new projects and with the financial backing needed to produce work of lasting value. This award will help to cement their national and international reputations as artists, and help to strengthen the positive cultural profile of Northern Ireland both home and abroad.”
Each of the artists will now use the funding to develop a series of new works.
Conor Mitchell will re-develop three of his works for his ‘Orchestral Opus’ project. He will transform existing pieces focusing on three formic paradigms, Concerto, Symphony and Choral Epic and plans to incorporate more movements, a full orchestra plus a symphonic choir with the help of this award.
Deirdre McKay will create foundation drafts for a proposal from award-winning, innovative company, Northern Ireland Opera. This will be the second commission for Deirdre from Northern Ireland Opera with, opera short, Driven, receiving the Director’s Choice Award from Boston Metro Opera’s 2013 International Composers' Competition. Adjunct to this work, will be the creation of satellite chamber works, as part of the award.
Playwright, Jimmy McAleavey will produce two large-scale new plays written for a broad audience and potentially international and touring interest. The two projects, ‘O’Neill’s Airs’ and ‘Americky’, will bring him into new territories (thematic, commercial, artistic and geographical), allowing him the opportunity to acquire new skills during the research, training and artistic practice phases of creation.
Major Individual Awards form part of the Support for the Individual Artist Programme, (SIAP) which is administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland annually. As part of its continuing firm commitment to supporting the development of individual artists, the Council made 155 SIAP awards to artists in 2015/16 totalling £353,010.