Unlimited announces £120,000 of funding for new work by disabled artists


Unlimited, the arts commissioning programme which supports disabled artists to create and present exceptional work across all art forms, has announced its 13 latest awards to artists to develop ambitious new work.

photo of disabled performer Jamie Bedard flying through the air on a wire, dressed in a white suit

Jamie Beddard in an Extraordinary Bodies performance ©Richard Davenport 2015

Funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, British Council and Spirit of 2012, and delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin, Unlimited has provided nearly £2 million to disabled artists since 2013 through commissions and awards. Unlimited-supported commissions include high-profile works such as Liz Carr’s ‘Assisted Suicide: The Musical’, Touretteshero’s ‘Backstage in Biscuit Land’ and Noëmi Lakmaier’s ‘Cherophobia’.

These new projects are supported through two different awards:

  • 7 Research and Development (R&D) Awards, for mid-career artists to explore a new creative project, including 1 R&D Award supported by Wellcome Trust, for an artist to develop a creative project that engages with health and science research;
  • 6 Emerging Artist Awards, for artists who are still early in their career to develop or produce a new artwork or participatory project.

The 2018 awarded artists and works include:

  • I was naked, smelling of rain by Aidan Moesby, a series of artworks that explore technology, wellbeing and the weather.
  • TrueLove by Jane Gauntlett, a dark comedy combining interactive theatre and Augmented Reality to explore the impact of shared data and technology on our future encounters and relationships.
  • A Very Queer Nazi Faust by Vince Laws, an experimental participatory performance celebrating homosexuality and highlighting issues around cuts to disability benefits.

David Hevey, Chief Executive, Shape Arts said:

“This latest batch of fantastic artworks in receipt of Unlimited’s awards showcases perfectly disabled people’s immense capacity for artistic brilliance. These eclectic, ambitious projects are all so exciting, engaging, provocative and beautiful – I am very much looking forward to seeing how they develop, and am delighted that they serve to illustrate so well the importance and successes of Shape’s own mission: for disabled people to break creative barriers in the arts.”

Cecilia Wee, Head of Artist Development, Artsadmin added:

“This round of Unlimited commissions demonstrates the compelling artistic projects that are being created by disabled artists today. Engaging with issues such as identity, wellbeing, climate change, homelessness and data, we look forward to seeing the creative risks and fresh perspectives that these artists will take. Artsadmin is proud to be partner on Unlimited, a project whose bold radicality and mission for inclusion very much chimes with our own ethos.”

Saphia Bishop, Public Engagement at Wellcome Trust commented:

“Wellcome are delighted to be working in partnership with Unlimited to support one of the 2018 R&D awards. We hope Wellcome’s funding will encourage the development of exciting and innovative ways that health or science research is explored in the creative process and how this collaboration might offer different perspectives to both the artist’s practice and the work of researchers. We’re eager to see how the commissions evolve and the new and ambitious work that will develop out of this.”

The works were selected from 200 applications by two selection panels comprising arts sector professionals, including Paul Bonham (Arts Council England), Ruth Gould (DaDaFest), Tamsin Ace (Southbank Centre), independent artist Richard Butchins, and independent curator Rose Lejeune.

Male wheelchair dancer duet with female dancer, her legs spread as his arms are

Joel Brown and Eva Mutso – 111, 2017; photo by Vik Singh Taak

Comments from other funders:


“I am delighted to see yet another exciting set of projects funded through this wonderful 2012 legacy project, Unlimited. The programme and awards have gone from strength to strength over the years, and I am so pleased that artists and audiences have benefited so much not just from the work itself, but also from the expert advice and support provided by the programme leads Shape Arts and Artsadmin. This new set of projects will be appearing at events and venues right across the country, featuring a variety of art forms. No excuses – get out there and enjoy!”

– Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England

“With so many high quality applications spread across different artforms and tackling a wide variety of issues, this year’s selection process was stimulating and enriching. The British Council is committed to support work by disabled artists and I was impressed by the extraordinary creativity of the proposals. I hope to work with some of these artists on future international projects.”

– Carole McFadden, Theatre and Dance Programme Manager, British Council

“Spirit of 2012 was established to break down barriers between disabled and non-disabled people through culture and the arts, as well as sport. We know that disabled artists have to fight harder than most for recognition and reward, so we are very proud to help fund these awards to encourage new and emerging talent to reach and inspire wider audiences. We look forward to seeing the six Emerging artists realise their ambitions and create new, challenging and inspiring work for the next generation of talent to aspire to.”

– Debbie Lye, Chief Executive, Spirit of 2012

Current Unlimited commissions, awarded in 2017, including five international collaborations, will feature as major highlights of Southbank Centre’s September 2018 Unlimited Festival.

The full list of awardees is as follows:

R&D Awards

  • Adrian Lee – ‘Metamorphoses’ Music, London
  • Aidan Moesby – ‘I was naked, smelling of rain’ Visual arts, North England
  • Jane Gauntlett – ‘TrueLove’ Combined arts, London
  • Jess Thom – ‘Language Generating Machine’ Combined Arts, London
  • Laurence Clark – ‘Cured’ Theatre, North England
  • Sophie Woolley – ‘Augmented.’ Theatre, London

Wellcome R&D Award

  • Jamie Beddard – ‘Delicate’ Combined arts, London

Emerging Artists Commissions

  • Amy Rosa – ‘Gallanach’ Visual arts, Scotland
  • David Tovey – ‘Man on Bench Fairytale’ Combined arts (participatory project), London
  • Felix Peckitt – ‘The Goldilocks Mixer’ Visual arts (participatory project), South East England
  • Joel Brown – ‘111’ Dance, London
  • Neal Pike – TENTACLES Literature (participatory project), Midlands
  • Vince Laws – ‘A Very Queer Nazi Faust’ Combined arts (participatory project), South East England