Celebrating Tom McGrath

Oct 23 2020 | By More

New Maverick awards and celebrations of Tom’s 80th.

The Tom McGrath Trust is celebrating what would have been the late, great playwright and jazz musician’s 80th birthday with the announcement of the final three Maverick Awards.

Other celebratory events include the online streaming of his play The Dream Train by Magnetic North (see McGrath’s 80th Marked) and the audio streaming of Electric Contact – A Jazz Tribute to Tom McGrath the remarkable concert which opened a tribute to him at the EIFF in 2017.

Tom McGrath. Image: EIFF

It is ten years since the launch of The Tom McGrath Trust to honour the life and legacy the poet, playwright, and creative maverick, who died in 2009.

Inspired by his boundless generosity of spirit and his passion for supporting Scottish playwrights, the Trust aimed to be a source of inspiration, stimulation, and support for artists seeking to develop their craft.

It was in Tom McGrath’s nature to be generous with small amounts of money which could help to make a big difference, and over the last ten years it has supported 76 writers to create work to celebrate Tom’s vibrant contribution to Scotland’s cultural life.

difficult decision

The Trustees say they have now taken the difficult decision to bring the Trust’s work to a close with three final awards, each worth £2,000. Two Maverick awards in memory of Tom and a Wild Award, to celebrate partner Ella Wildridge’s unique contribution to the Trust and Scotland’s creative community.

Ella Wildridge, Tom’s partner and the driving force behind the Trust, has become unwell over the last year which has been a key factor in the decision to conclude the Trust’s work.

Tam Dean Burn in Electric Contact – A Jazz Tribute to Tom McGrath. Photo EIFF

Trustee, Alice McGrath says: “The trust has supported a lot of artists in the last 10 years and I know my dad would have taken great pleasure in being in conversation with everyone we have supported.

“Over the years, my dad’s partner Ella Wildridge, has given so much of her energy, wisdom, and care to the trust and many people who applied – whether successful or not – that went way beyond providing financial support.

“It really should have been called the Tom and Ella Trust as, without her, it wouldn’t have happened in the unique way that it did.

complex year

“It is with mixed feelings that we are now bringing the trust to a close. Dad was always innovative, seeing where the need and interests of the time were, and making new things happen. I wonder what he would be doing in this complex year.

“The Trustees will do their best to channel his and Ella’s maverick ways in this last round of funds and provide a little support at a great time of need for artists and creativity.”

Fans of Tom McGrath are well served with two online performances to help mark his birthday.

Electric Contact – A Jazz Tribute to Tom McGrath, is the concert given by Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with actor Tam Dean Burn at the Queens Hall in July 2017. It was the first event of a retrospective tribute to McGrath curated by Niall Greig Fulton.

The concert has not been publicly available to listen to until now, although our review of the event is available to read here (★★★★★ Explored). It was, however, recorded and Tam Dean Burn has put the full concert here on SoundCloud.

The second online performance is his play The Dream Train by Magnetic North. See our news story: McGrath’s 80th Marked. and watch the play Magnetic North’s website here.

Listings and Links

Electric Contact – A Jazz Tribute to Tom McGrath
Available to listen to on Soundcloud here.
Read our five star review here.
Niall Greig Fulton article for the 2017 EIFF about Tom McGrath is here: www.edfilmfest.org.uk

The Dream Train (2020)
Available to watch on Magnetic North’s website here.
Read our preview here:McGrath’s 80th Marked.

Maverick Awards 2020

Awards will be given to the best applications for a new project, with writing at its heart, that departs from the routine and starts to explore new and imaginative possibilities. As in previous years, the Trustees will award funds to those artists whose application, career history, and proposals are considered most in keeping with Tom’s love of inquiry, collaboration and endeavour, values equally shared by Ella.

The closing date for completed applications is Monday 7 December 2020;
The Trust will announce the successful Award recipients at the end of January 2021;
Eligibility and criteria can be found on https://tommcgrath-trust.org/the-maverick-award/


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  1. Rosa Steppanova says:

    my husband james mackenzie and myself are friends of tom and ella. we lost touch with ella and tried today to get in touch by phone but her number seems defunkt and she is no longer listed at her kingskettle address. if anybody knows where she is and how we can get in touch with her, please let me know.
    kind regards