Unlimited, the commissioning programme that supports disabled artists develop ambitious and high quality work, today announced an Ambitions of Excellence Award of £759,949 from Arts Council England to build a three-year international programme. The award is also match-funded by the British Council.
Unlimited International will extend the global impact of Unlimited by co-commissioning extraordinary English and international disabled artists to further transform the cultural sector worldwide in relation to access and equality.
In 2016, working with British Council, Southbank Centre and Tramway, Unlimited – delivered by Shape and Artsadmin – will tour work from Japan, Brazil and Australia throughout England, supported by Pallant House, Drake Music and Watershed to help build momentum in the lead up to the co-commissions process.
Six research and development awards chosen from an open application process will be supported, leading to three full commissions, each led by disabled artists from England and one other country. The full commissioned works will tour at least three countries upon completion.
Unlimited International’s key objectives are to ensure that disabled artists worldwide can gain skills and extend their practice, but also build on Unlimited’s work embedding disabled artists within the cultural sector.
Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said:
“Unlimited continues to respond to the very high demand for ambitious new work by Deaf and disabled artists. The commissioned works and associated Southbank Unlimited Festival are proving instrumental in shifting the attitudes of not only venues, programmers and producers but also audiences. Unlimited International offers significant scope to grow this impact worldwide, delivering demonstrable change and extending the international profile of British Deaf and disabled artists.”
Since Unlimited’s launch in 2013, £935,832 has been awarded to artists working in dance, theatre, performance, music, visual art and literature, and reached audiences of over 75,000 through 1,318 performances, installations, screenings and workshops in the UK. Given its success at home, the programme’s natural next step is to work beyond the UK’s shores, continuing to change perceptions of disability with great art by disabled people on a global scale.
Jo Verrent, Senior Producer, Unlimited, said:
“Unlimited International will enable Unlimited to take a crucial step forwards within the global positioning of disabled artists. Working in partnership with British Council, we can push disabled artists to the forefront of the creative sector, transforming perceptions and ultimately influencing how disability is considered around the world. We are delighted Arts Council England has backed our vision – and can’t wait to enable disabled artists to take over the world – literally!”
Tony Heaton OBE, Chief Executive, Shape, said:
“Shape is proud to continue its successful partnership with Artsadmin on the Unlimited Programme. As an organisation with national and international reach, this marks an ambitious step forward for us and another great opportunity for the talented disabled artists we support.”
Neil Webb, Director Theatre & Dance, British Council, said:
“This is really exciting news and a testament to the ambition of the sector and the quality of work being created. In 2012 the British Council supported five international collaborations for Unlimited and the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Since then we have remained a key Unlimited partner helping to realise the international ambitions of the UK’s disabled artists. We are proud to be working with so many of these artists in our programmes, raising awareness and changing perceptions of disability around the world. This Ambition for Excellence award will enable us to raise the bar even higher, and I can't wait to witness the results.”