Thanks to additional funding from Arts Council England, the Unlimited commissions programme delivered by Shape and Arts Admin has been extended until 2022, with additional commissioning opportunities available in 2020.
Since 2013 Unlimited, a commissions programme for disabled artists across all art forms and scales, has supported over 280 artists and awarded more than £4 million including:
- 31 main commissions
- 11 international awards
- 36 awards for emerging artists
- 41 research and development awards
- 17 strategic commissions and co-commissions
David Hevey, Director of Shape Arts said:
“Unlimited’s current funding was due to finish in October 2020 but, through this grant, Arts Council England have enabled us to continue to support innovative, high quality work by disabled artists. Disabled artists will have another opportunity to apply for an Unlimited Commission, adding to the incredible range of disabled-led art and artists that Unlimited has supported since 2013.”
Deborah Chadbourn, Executive Director and Róise Goan, Artistic Director, Artsadmin added:
“Disabled artists are creating some of the most vital, compelling and celebratory work around at the moment, so it’s fantastic to see Arts Council England supporting this further round of Unlimited awards, which we’re really excited to support along with another cohort of artists to help us see the world in different ways. The Unlimited commissions don’t offer ‘one take’ on disability or on art, but a range of distinctive and diverse work that connects with audiences in towns, cities and rural locations throughout the country.”
Alongside the grants for commissions, Unlimited has helped to extend artists’ ambitions – helping them to upscale, develop new partnerships, highlight intersectionality, promote art form cross over, gain additional reach, access funding from other sources, create more sustainable careers or get mainstream prominence, if that is what the artist desires.
Abid Hussain, Director, Diversity, Arts Council England commented:
“We’re really pleased to be able to support the continuation of the Unlimited project as well as enable a period of transition and development. The long-term impact of the commissions has been truly brilliant and we eagerly anticipate the ground-breaking and fantastic work that will come out of this continued investment.”
Many of the Unlimited commissions have been presented at Southbank Centre’s biennial Unlimited festival. Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive, Southbank Centre said:
“We are thrilled that Unlimited has received further funding to continue celebrating the powerful artistic vision of disabled artists and highlighting issues surrounding disability. We’ve supported Unlimited since its inception and we’re proud to welcome back Unlimited festival this year. It’s an integral part of Southbank Centre’s overall cultural programme, which is committed to showcasing art by and for everyone.”
The additional funding from Arts Council England also includes organisational development support to enable the current Unlimited structure, led by Shape Arts and Artsadmin with Jo Verrent as Senior Producer, to explore future models of delivery, subject to funding agreement negotiation.
More information on the commissions and how to apply will be announced during the summer in 2020. There will be three strands, as before – main commissions, R&D awards and awards for emerging artists. In addition, a limited number of strategic awards will still be made to support work and activity that links to underrepresented areas in the Unlimited portfolio of work. There will once again be partnership awards, so that work by disabled artists is more deeply embedded in the cultural sector of the UK and beyond.