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> > > Disability Industry Heavyweights Launch of 'Unlimited' Partnership

9 December 2013

Shape and ArtsAdmin are spearheading 'Unlimited' - a three year commissioning programme, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England to support disabled artists in developing ambitious and high quality work - with a celebration launch today at the Tate Modern.

‘Unlimited’ will not only help disabled artists develop their practice and encourage the development of new relationships and collaborations with producers, venues and promoters, but will also increase distribution of disabled artists’ work (through digital means and touring up to an international level), affording greater opportunities for audiences to see the work.

The national delivery partners for the Unlimited commissioning programme, Shape and Artsadmin, were awarded a £1.5 million grant supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’ earlier this month, and have announced today the official launch of the Unlimited website www.weareunlimited.org.uk and the delivery team to include disability industry heavyweights Jo Verrent and Ruth Gould.

Already on board as partners since the announcement include: Creative Scotland, the British Council, Southbank Centre, and DaDaFest.

Leonie Bell, Acting Director of Creative Development, says: 

“We are delighted to be supporting this new round of Unlimited commissions.  The 2012 Unlimited programme saw ground-working work being produced to great acclaim in the UK and internationally by talented artists from Scotland.  We look forward to enabling and celebrating new artists voices through this next round.”

Carole McFadden, Programme Manager for East Asia, China & Hong Kong, Middle East and North Africa, British Council says:

“The British Council is once again delighted to be working on Unlimited.  Given the unprecedented number of works which toured internationally following the Unlimited Festival in 2012, we are looking forward to the next round of excellent work created by disabled artists for possible inclusion in our global arts programmes. This a very exciting opportunity for the UK to demonstrate its excellence in the Arts and Disability sector and we are pleased to be able to play a part in it.”

Jo Verrent joins the Unlimited team as Senior Producer following over 15 years of working in the disability sector at strategic levels in arts & culture, with national agencies and on the ground working with organisations and individuals, embedding the belief that diversity adds texture, turning policy into real action.  

Renowned for being the co-creator of PUSH ME, a groundbreaking film project focusing on Unlimited artists as part of the cultural olympiad and SYNC, a leadership development programme reframing the work of artists and focusing on the interface between disability and leadership, Jo is a Clore fellow, and believes that ‘different’ is delicious not divergent. 

Jo Verrent, Senior Producer for Unlimited says:

“Unlimited broke boundaries in 2012 - it encouraged disabled artists to stretch their art and transform public perceptions. I'm delighted to be Senior Producer for Shape and Artsadmin's £1.5 million partnership to deliver Unlimited for the next three years on behalf of Arts Council England. Building on the momentum of Unlimited 2012 will ensure this legacy is embedded within the cultural sector, whilst also challenging and changing public perceptions of disability.” 

Ruth Gould, Artistic Director of DaDaFest, one of the key partners in the bid, will chair the Unlimited selection panel, determining the commissioned projects.

Ruth comments:

"Unlimited has changed the playing field and been a fantastic opportunity for disabled artists, so I am more than delighted it is being rolled out again for two more rounds. Being asked to chair the panel is an enormous privilege which I know will certainly be a highlight of my career to date, as well as recognition for our success and achievements within DaDaFest.  I am so looking forward to seeing what proposals come forward which will deliver even more groundbreaking and exciting arts."

Arts Council England has invested in Shape, the disability-led arts charity, and arts producing organisation Artsadmin to support disabled artists through a programme of commissions and run a complementary mentoring programme between 2013 and 2016.

The programme will support disabled artists to develop their practice, forming new relationships and collaborations with producers, venues and promoters; it will increase distribution of the work (through touring, including international touring, and digital iterations) affording greater opportunities for audiences to see some of the very the best work available from disabled artists right across the country.

Shape is a disability-led arts organisation working to improve access to culture for disabled people by developing opportunities for disabled artists, training cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people, and running participatory arts and development programmes.

Artsadmin is an arts lab for the 21st Century, supporting the creation of new performance, site-specific and interdisciplinary work by the most talented and innovative artists through mentoring, development and producing support.

Alan Davey, Chief Executive for Arts Council England said:

“Supporting diversity in arts and culture is the right thing to do. I firmly believe that artists and organisations should make work that draws upon the full range of backgrounds of our society. Unlimited in 2012 was a real success story, enabling disabled artists from across the UK to showcase their talent as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Building on this success, Unlimited will ensure that disabled artists have a strong platform from which they can create ambitious, high quality work to develop and stretch audiences across England and beyond. The collaboration between Shape and Artsadmin is a really exciting combination with both demonstrating really strong experience in supporting artists’ development; we believe this partnership will enable us to build on what was achieved in 2012 and continue to challenge public perceptions of disability.”

London 2012, the UK Arts Councils and the British Council commissioned 29 ambitious pieces of work by disabled artists. These included: 

Ménage à Trois, a beautiful study of love, obsession, loneliness and manipulation through dance theatre from award-winning performer Claire Cunningham and choreographer/video artist Gail Sneddon

MACROPOLIS by Joel Simon and Flickrpix is a light-hearted animated film which tracks the adventures through the city of two toys with impairments, who have been discarded from a factory production line.  
The Dean Rodney Singers is an international interactive multimedia project which saw the creation of a global band of 72 musicians and dancers. This project was produced Heart n Soul under the creative guidance of 21 year old artist Dean Rodney, lead singer of The Fish Police.

To register an interest or to make an application to the Unlimited programme visit the website which is now live: www.weareunlimited.org.uk and follow on Twitter: @weareunltd

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