Northern Irish writers to share half of £60,000 bursary fund

Award-winners: Nathaniel McAuley, Anthony Quinn, Pauline Burgess, Jan Carson, Kenneth Gregory. Photograph: Brian Morrison

Award-winners: Nathaniel McAuley, Anthony Quinn, Pauline Burgess, Jan Carson, Kenneth Gregory. Photograph: Brian Morrison


Six writers are among the 12 rising stars of Northern Ireland’s artistic community who have been awarded grants from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Awards under the Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) are made annually to professional artists working in music, visual arts, literature and participatory arts and are among the most prestigious awards bestowed by the Arts Council each year. In addition to receiving a bursary of £5,000 each, the 12 artists have all been partnered with a professional organisation to help each of them to deliver a major new creative work.

Roisin McDonough, chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “These 12 artists are already established and highly regarded in each of their fields. The awards are given in recognition of their work to date and to provide them with support to take their careers to that vital next level. The ACES programme has been running successfully now for four years and addresses the need for on-going training and skills development within the sector.”

The award-winning writers are Pauline Burgess, a Carryduff-based author; Nathaniel Joseph McAuley, a Belfast-based poet; Kenneth Gregory, a fantasy fiction author from Crumlin; Matt Kirkham, a Co Down based poet; Jan Carson, a writer from Belfast; and Anthony Quinn, a Dungannon-based writer.

The other awards went to Sid Peacock, a composer and music producer from Bangor; Lesley Cherry, a visual artist from Belfast; Ian Cumberland, a visual artist from Portadown; Alissa Kleist, a Belfast-based curator; David Quinn, a performance artist from Dungannon,; and Kate Guelke, a music director and producer from Belfast.

Development opportunities have been provided for writers by The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen University, visual arts through The MAC, Millennium Court Arts Centre and Golden Thread Gallery, drama through Cahoots and music through An Droichead, Moving On Music and Danish Opera Company, Den Jyske Opera.

Nathaniel Joseph McAuley is a Belfast-based poet and a Masters graduate of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. In 2012 he began teaching in St Malachy’s college. His debut pamphlet, The Dyer’s Notes on Indigo, was released at the 2013 Belfast Book Festival and his work has appeared in Poetry Proper and the Open Ear Journal. His ACES award will see him working under the tutelage poet Ciaran Carson at the Seamus Heaney Centre to write and edit a new collection of poem’s entitled The Joiners Song.

Commenting on the award he said: “To receive this award so early in my career is a tremendous honour. Financially, ACES is providing me with invaluable freedom to dedicate myself fully to my poetry. Furthermore, with Ciaran Carson at the Seamus Heaney Centre as my mentor, I have a sterling sounding board and a well trained eye ensuring my output is of merit. In essence, this award is providing me with a firm foundation upon which I hope to produce and publish new and exciting work.”

The Artists Career Enhancement Programme (ACES) was launched by the Arts Council in 2010 to provide development opportunities for career artists.