Grants on offer to deaf and disabled artists

Disabled and deaf artists in Mid & East Antrim are being offered the chance to apply for grants of up to £5,000 to develop their work.

actress Luna Kalo, visual artist Shiro Masuyama, performance artist, Sinead O'Donnell and dancer, Nicola McLaughlin, four the 13 recipients of the Arts & Disability Forums iDA (Individual Disabled/Deaf Artists) award in 2017. (photo courtesy of Arts Council of Northern Ireland)

The iDA (individual disabled/deaf artists) awards scheme, which operates across Northern Ireland, is for original proposals for bold and challenging work by musicians, writers, visual artists, theatre and dance practitioners.

The scheme, run by the Arts and Disability Forum with funding from the Arts Council NI, has helped the careers of many artists who have gone on to achieve international recognition.

Chris Ledger, Chief Executive of the Arts and Disability Forum, said that the purpose of iDA was to provide a flexible process supporting disabled and deaf artists to produce exciting new work and gain new experiences.

She said: “The grant scheme is open to proposals from artists with all types of impairment or disability. This is a developmental scheme so we welcome applications from emerging talent as well as from more established artists but decisions are made on artistic merit, talent and ambition.

“iDA grant recipients have gone on to all kinds of big opportunities. Shannon Yee’s award-winning immersive theatre piece, ‘Reassembled...slightly askew’ was seed-funded via the iDA grant scheme and has been touring in the UK and overseas pretty much continuously since completion, with the most recent activity being an extensive tour in Canada. Along with performance artist, Sinéad O’Donnell, who is also a previous iDA grant recipient, Shannon was selected this year by the Arts Council for a Major Individual Artist award. Two out of four of these prestigious awards went to disabled recipients who have progressed via iDA grants with support from the Arts & Disability Forum.”

The Arts & Disability Forum is looking to grow this highly successful area of work and this year a partnership residency with Digital Arts Studios in Belfast will be available. The company would love to hear from companies of any kind that might be interested in forming future partnerships with the ADF. The support could be ‘in kind’ advice or services – anything at all that could help a disabled/deaf artist progress in their artistic career.

Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Participatory Arts, Arts Council of NI, said: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this important artist development programme through National Lottery funding.”

The application process is now open with deadline for applications - 12 noon on April 12. Artists can download the criteria and guidelines from the iDA micro-site -