Disability Arts Online announces our second set of Covid Commissions for disabled artists


Disability Arts Online is announcing a funding pot of £10,000 for the second iteration of its Covid Commissions programme, offering a series of micro-grants for up to 35 disabled artists based in the UK. This time, the programme will be centred around the theme of Connectivity.

covid commissions graphicWith the vaccine rollout, sections of society re-opening and spring in the air there seems to be a glimmer of hope for many after such a difficult year. But we’re all too aware of the devastating and disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on disabled communities. We know that for most disabled artists and the cultural sector more broadly there will be upheaval, uncertainty and a lack of opportunities for months and years to come. We know that as society reopens, many disabled people will continue to be excluded.

Disability Arts Online is a relatively small organisation, but we are committed to supporting our community of disabled artists in constructive ways, where possible. We’re 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. 

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.

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.

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. 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. 

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. 

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.

Apply for the latest round of Covid Commissions here.