A portrait photograph of a young woman with long brown braids tied in a pony tail. They are also wearing a furry jacket.
Ruth McGinley. Image credit: Carrie Davenport Photography

Announcing the Chris Ledger Legacy Award Winners!

Thanks to funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Unlimited have been working in partnership with the University of Atypical in Northern Ireland to distribute funds – firstly some ‘Buying Time’ awards, and now the Chris Ledger Legacy Awards. Jo Verrent, senior producer for Unlimited tells us more…

The University of Atypical today announced the recipients of the Chris Ledger Legacy Awards in memory of its much-loved former CEO who died in 2020.

The Awards recognise the major contribution Chris made to the arts and cultural sector in Northern Ireland and especially her many initiatives to support disabled artists, and enabled Unlimited, thanks to Paul Hamlyn Foundation, to deliver further on their mission to support disabled artists throughout the UK. The grant scheme offered four awards of £5,000 each to support artists to continue their practice and create new work.

The four recipients are:

Ruth McGinley Ruth is a musician and composer originally from Derry/Londonderry but now living in Belfast. Ruth will use her award to focus on creating her second album as a solo classical pianist.

Larry McAree – Larry is a learning-disabled artist and storyteller from Belfast. Larry will use his award to create new autobiographical work crossing literature and visual arts.

Shiro MasuyamaShiro is a Japanese artist who has been living in Northern Ireland since 2010. Shiro will use his award to create a new live art piece that will take place between Northern Ireland and Scotland highlighting the impact of Brexit.

Johnny McAlister – Johnny is a composer, musician and DJ from Derry/Londonderry and will use his award to create a new Warriors of the Dystotheque album of Jazz rooted Electronic pop to be produced by the legendary Howie B.

CCLA FINAL from University of Atypical on Vimeo.

All the artists will be invited to join the Unlimited alumni, and the awards are managed by University of Atypical which is a disabled-led arts charity taking an empowerment-based approach towards supporting disabled and deaf people’s involvement in the arts. The organisation specialises in developing and promoting the work of artists who are disabled and deaf and in reaching disabled and deaf audiences.

Damien Coyle, CEO, University of Atypical said: ‘we are delighted with these awards being made to recognise Chris’s achievements and the inspiration she was to so many people. She’d be thrilled to see this level of award going to support new work by D/deaf, Disabled and Neurodiverse Artists.’

Chris Ledger was from Lancashire in the north west of England, her background was in film production, running a multi-media company before coming to live in Ireland. I worked with Chris for five years at East Midlands Shape before she moved to Northern Ireland. Once she moved, she worked initially with the Tourist Board and Department for Culture, Arts, and Leisure before becoming Disability Arts Development Officer at the Arts Council in 2004. Chris Ledger joined the University of Atypical (then known as the Arts and Disability Forum) as Chief Executive in 2009 and was instrumental in supporting D/deaf, Disabled, and Neurodivergent Artists. Her passion and determination shone through everything she did and she touched the lives of so many people in the arts sector.

The selection process for the Ledger Legacy awards was a difficult one, and all of us at Unlimited want to thank every artist from Northern Ireland who applied – the quality of the applications was stunning, and it was difficult to choose the four recipients – but what an amazing four we have and what an amazing range of work and depth of experience those artists are going to bring to us.

Information on the awards is available from the University of Atypical website and Facebook account.