The first round of Unlimited, was part of the 2012 Festival within the Cultural Olympiad, and was the UK’s largest ever programme celebrating arts and culture by Deaf and disabled artists. It was funded principally by the Olympic Lottery Distributor and delivered in partnership between London 2012, Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

Between 2014 and 2016, Unlimited will once again support disabled artists creating extraordinary work through a £2 million programme funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Creative Scotland, and the Spirit of 2012 Trust.

  • Photo by Irven Lewis

    Fusional Fragments - Marc Brew

  • Photo by Alison Baskerville

    The Garden - Graeae Theatre Company

  • Rachel Gadsden

  • Photo by Alberto Santos Bellido Douglas Robertson

    Ramesh Meyyappan

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Unlimited continues in a three-year programme delivered by Shape and Artsadmin to support, develop and celebrate the work of disabled artists. This will be achieved through a series of commissions, mentoring support, Unlimited festivals at the Southbank Centre in 2014 and 2016 and showcases of new work throughout the UK in partnership with various venues and organisations.

Unlimited 2012 and the first Unlimited Festival at London’s Southbank Centre profiled twenty-nine new commissions awarded to disability arts organisations, Deaf and disabled artists and producers and mainstream organisations, aiming to create and showcase new, high-quality and ambitious work with the power to open doors and change minds.

The programme included a variety of art forms ranging from visual arts, dance and theatre, to comedy, circus and music. In making work, artists were encouraged to be ‘unlimited’ in their ambitions, to push beyond what they had ever achieved before and the result was the celebration of work by disabled artists on an unprecedented scale.

Five of the Unlimited commissions, supported by the British Council, involved new and exciting international collaborations between UK artists and their conterparts from Brazil, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan and South Africa. You can read more about these five commissions on the British Council's Theatre and Dance website.

Twelve Unlimited commissions were documented through a series of 90-second films in the Push Me project, a digital arts commission by The Space and Watershed designed to amplify the impact of their work.

In addition to the artistic programme incorporating both performances and visual arts events, a lively and informative series of talks and workshops ran in parallel at the Southbank Centre. These charted the journey of Deaf and disabled artists in the UK, covering themes and discussions such as multiple identities and ‘labels’, hidden impairments and the pros and cons of ‘coming out’ as a disabled artist, and the future for disabled artists post-Unlimited.

A separate programme for international delegates, curated by the British Council and facilitated by Jo Verrent and Tony Heaton (Chief Executive, Shape), brought promoters from around the world together to make connections and network with the Unlimited artists. They attended practical workshops on making festivals more accessible, learning more about inclusive programming and good practice in marketing and promoting the work of disabled artists.

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