Disability Arts Online seeks disabled artists for next round of Covid Commissions

Closing Date: 16 May 2021

Disability Arts Online

Location: UK

Remuneration: £200-£500 depending on strand


 A square illustration on a white background of a microphone stand, a laptop on a coffee table, a camera on a stand and a set of headphones. Black writing reads: Covid Commissions. The O's are replaced by illustrations of covid molecules.

Disability Arts Online is pleased to announce a new £10,000 Covid Commissions programme funded through a combination of a pre-existing budget of £5,000, a fundraising initiative and the kind support of funds from Together! 2012 CIC.

The theme: Connectivity

This time, the programme will respond to the theme of Connectivity. The crisis has impacted on the mental health of the nation and particularly on communities of disabled people. We want to highlight connection and ways that communities of disabled artists can support each other and collaborate and find resilience through these difficult times. 

We want to explore the new forms of connection which have arisen from the crisis and interrogate the reliance on the digital realm. What creative ideas for presenting work online might you bring to the table? What new connections have you made? How can we maintain a healthy relationship between the digital and physical realms? How has your connection to nature and the environment changed? How might we detox from digital? What are the disconnects? These are some of the questions and themes you might respond to. 

The different strands

There are four strands of commissions, please only apply to one strand. For Artist Presentations and Showcases, we will consider proposals for the presentation of pre-existing work. 

Open Commissions

10 commissions of £500

Pitch an idea for an online event, discussion, workshop, performance or exhibition – anything that can take place or be displayed online. These are open commissions so bring us your best ideas. Please consider audience access in your application (we will make additional funds available to cover these costs, if required). Applications from partnerships or collectives are welcome. The budget is fixed so be realistic with your ambitions.

See examples of Open Commissions from the last round here.

Artist Presentations

5 commissions of £200 each

Produce and record a 20-30 minute artist talk from the comfort of your own home. Presentations could be about how your work has changed over the last year, describing a piece of work or a series of works created since the pandemic. Equally, your presentation could be on an arts theme, that’s close to your heart and related to the theme. The presentation will include a short Q&A after the main presentation with DAO’s Editor. All content will be pre-recorded and then broadcast on the Disability Arts Online YouTube and Facebook channels. We will expect artists to answer questions posted by viewers in the comments section as your presentation is being broadcast. Disability Arts Online will provide tech-support, including captioning and audio description, where appropriate. 

See examples of last round’s Artist Presentations here.

Art showcases: creative writing, visual art, music or performance

10 commissions of £200 each

We are looking for commissions of artistic responses that respond to the theme of connection. This might be pre-existing work presented in a new way. 

Here’s a showcase from the last round which responded to lockdown, as an example.

Artist Collaborations:

5 commissions of £400 for pairs of artists (receiving £200 each).

We are asking you to pitch a collaborative exchange that responds to the theme. This could take the form of a conversation, two artists working in different artforms responding to each other’s work, or something completely different.

Here’s a recent example of a collaborative piece.

Who can apply?

  • We can only accept applications from disabled artists based in the UK, though proposals with international collaborators, where a UK disabled artist is the lead are fine. 
  • We can only accept one application per artist or artists collective. 
  • You can be working in any art form.

To apply

We know writing applications is hard work and amounts to free labour. That’s why we’ve tried to keep the process as simple as possible.

Email work@disabilityarts.online describing your idea and how it responds to the theme of connectivity. Please state clearly which strand you are applying for. Also, provide a bit of background information about yourself/your collaborators. We absolutely welcome applications in different formats including audio, video etc. If there are other formats that are more accessible to you, please let us know by sending an email.

The application should be no more than a page of A4 if written, or about three minutes long in audio/video. Please send a separate attachment or links to where we can download your application.

You must also provide a completed equal opportunities monitoring form. All data will remain anonymous.


*Deadline for applications 11:59 16 May 2021.*

Decisions made and artists informed by 28 May 2021. This could change, we are a very small team and it’s impossible to gauge how many application we will receive. We will strive to give individual feedback to all artists who request it.

Commissions will be rolled out between June and December 2021. Please be aware that we want to stagger the release, so the deadline you are given will reflect this and work might not be published until weeks or months later.

Together! 2012 CIC
Together! 2012 will select a portion of the chosen commissions to livestream as part of their Together! 2012 TV or to present as part of their Disability History Month Festival or Disability Film Festival, later this year.

How we’ll make our decisions

We want to be as open and transparent as possible about how we make our decisions. We will consider the following factors when making our decisions:

  • The quality of the idea. Quality is subjective but it might be original, funny, topical, thoughtful or educational.
  • Its relevance to our target audiences (we’re currently particularly interested in reaching regional audiences i.e. outside of London, disabled people under 24, disabled people who experience racism and learning-disabled people).
  • Its relevance to the theme (we’re particularly interested in commissioning some ideas which have an environmental aspect).
  • A balancing process based on artform, geography and demographic information.
  • We’re aiming for a minimum of 20% of commissioned artists to be people of African and Caribbean heritage, people of Central, South, East, West and South East Asian heritage or people of Middle Eastern and North African heritage.
  • We will aim for a minimum of 60% of the commissions to be by artists who were not supported in the last round of Covid Commissions.

Things that won’t affect our decisions:

  • Whether the artist is known to us.
  • The perceived ‘professionalism’ of the artist.
  • The use of buzzwords or ‘artspeak’.

Good luck with your application and we look forward to receiving it!