ACES Recipients Unveiled

Arts Council NI announce the 21 artists recognised with the annual award to help further creative careers

Twenty-one artists have been announced at the latest recipients of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s ACES award 2015/16, a funding grant bestowed upon Northern Ireland’s most talented emerging artists to allow them to develop their professional artistic careers.

Awards under the Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) are made annually to professional artists working in music, visual arts, drama, dance, literature and participatory arts and are among the most prestigious awards bestowed by the Arts Council annually. Recipients include four visual artists, three playwrights, five poets, three novelists, three musicians, a dance artist and two community artists.

In addition to receiving a bursary of up to £5,000 each, many of the 21 artists have been partnered with a professional organisation to help each of them to deliver a major new creative work. Those organisations include; Golden Thread Gallery, Sonic Arts Research Centre and Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, Replay Theatre, Panarts, Arts & Disability Forum, Maiden Voyage, CCA (Derry), Theatreofpluck, The MAC, Millennium Court Arts Centre (Portadown), Mark Devereux Projects (Manchester), Vital Exposure (London), Dad Festival (Liverpool) and The Performance Corporation (Ireland).

Brigid O’Neill and Fionnuala Fagan

ACES musicians, Brigid O’Neill and Fionnuala Fagan

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: 'These 21 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 six years and addresses the need for on-going training and skills development within the arts sector.'

View the full list of artists below and for further information on individual artists keep up to date on

  • Fionnuala Kennedy, playwright and theatre-maker
  • Shannon Sickles, playwright 
  • Helen Hall, dance artist 
  • Miguel Martin, visual artist 
  • Chelley McLear, poet and storyteller 
  • Darren Anderson, novelist 
  • Hilary McCollum, playwright 
  • Jacqueline Wylie, visual artist 
  • Norma Beggs, community artist 
  • Emma Heatherington, novelist 
  • Fionnuala Fagan, musician, composer and installation artist 
  • Andrew Eaton, poet 
  • Colin Dardis, poet 
  • Leo Devlin, visual artist 
  • Shiro Masuyama, visual artist 
  • Larry Cowan, community artist 
  • Brigid O’Neill, singer-songwriter 
  • Geraldine O’Kane, poet
  • Lesley Richardson, novelist 
  • Maria McManus, poet
  • Ciara O’Neill, singer-songwriter