In association with the Irish American Writers and Artists, the Anam Award for services to innovation and creativity in Irish music is presented to Susan McKeown.

On February 9, in New York City, after almost a decade spotlighting the extraordinary achievements of the Irish creative community in the country, America’s largest Irish website will be honoring the cream of the crop at the first IrishCentral Creativity and Arts Awards.

On the evening, a special award will be presented to Grammy-Award-winning folk singer Susan McKeown, founder and executive director of the Cuala Foundation that promotes diaspora cultural well-being through the CualaNYC festival and other projects.

The inaugural Anam Award for services to innovation and creativity in Irish music is awarded to an individual who deserves special praise for discovering and revealing the soul of Irish music. It runs in association with the Irish American Writers and Artists. 

Read more: Cuala Festival launches celebration of Irish culture in New York

“I was really honored and delighted,” said McKeown of the award.

“To me the story of the Irish is not told unless you include the voices of those who left and their descendants. So when I first heard about the awards I was really glad that IrishCentral was establishing this important forum to recognize the enormous contributions made to Ireland’s legacy of creativity and arts by so many who don’t live there.  

“Then when I was contacted about the Anam Award. I was really touched and moved to have my work recognized in this way.”

As founder and executive director of the Cuala Foundation, McKeown oversaw the 2016 CualaNYC Festival with 25 events taking place across the city, including a woman’s shebeen and an appearance by Irish band Walking on Cars. The festival even succeeded in bringing famed Irish poet John Montague on a final visit to New York, granting his wish to once again see the city that shaped so much of his work before his death in December 2016.

“I’ve always been passionate about the capacity for culture to heal trauma, so we’re developing the festival’s theme as one of cultural well-being, and piloting projects for youth and communities in Ireland and the U.S.,” McKeown said of the Cuala Foundation.  

“People love us for our songs and our stories, and our emotional expression is a precious resource. There is unlimited creativity and potential there, we just need to facilitate its healthy growth and some of our projects are looking at developing social enterprise to benefit distressed communities and youth.”

McKeown is also currently working on “New York Rising,” a graphic novel about Irish New York and how it was integral to the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 which she plans to make available for free online. Research and development on the project are now complete and those interested in supporting or donating to this start-up non-profit can do so via Cuala NYC.

Tickets for the first IrishCentral Creativity and Arts Awards are now SOLD OUT but you can join us on Facebook Feb 9 to watch it live with TG4.

The IrishCentral Creativity and Arts Awards sponsors include TG4, Féile 30, Irish American Writers & Artists, Slane Irish Whiskey, American Irish Historical Society, and Irish Network USA.

Forty nominees have been selected across eight categories: Media & Innovation, Voice of Today, The Stage, The Written Word, The Screen, Visual Arts, Fashion & Design, and Irish American Centers and Festivals.

VOTE – Have your say in the IrishCentral Creativity and Arts awards results here

Susan McKeown is the inaugural winner of the Anam Award. Susan McKeown.