A young man stands with a hand outreached and a surprised expression on his face.
Stammermouth Theatre Company. 'Just A Few Words'. Image by Rachel Cherry for Unlimited. Taken at Southbank Centre's Unlimited festival 2016.

Ready, Set, Go! -The Unlimited Application Portal is Open

You now have until 7th November to submit your Expression of Interest applications for all 3 Unlimited  commission strands: Main, International and Emerging– and we’re looking forward to seeing your ideas! We’ve already had a lot of people approach us with a range of queries, some of them are answered in our Frequently Asked Questions…but some new ones have been popping up, so we thought we’d share the top ten additional questions so far!

  1. Why can’t we talk to you about your ideas? We’ve had a few artists and companies want to talk though their ideas to find out which is ‘best’ for Unlimited – and the honest truth is that we can’t tell you! We fund artists creating the work they want to make – we have no hidden agenda beyond wanting to see excellent art lead by disabled artists. By not commenting on ideas at this stage, it means that the system is fairer to everyone – no ‘special treatment’ for the artists we already know. Also no one from Unlimited, Shape or Artsadmin votes on the selection panels anyway – if you want to be on a selection panel, why not apply?


  1. But what if I don’t understand the criteria, the form or experience access barriers? Now this we can talk to you about! We are here – on Twitter, Facebook, phone, Skype, through blogs, through emails and any time you might catch us face to face and can answer all your questions. If it’s about access – talk to Sara (sara@shapearts.org.uk/ 02074247330) . If it’s about the emerging artists programme – talk to Fiona (fiona@shapearts.org.uk/02074247330). If it’s about the international collaborations – talk to Clara(clara@artsadmin.co.uk/02072475102). If it’s a general query, get in touch at (info@weareunlimited.org.uk/02072475102) and we’ll direct it to the right person who can respond.


  1. Why an Expression of Interest stage? We wanted to make the process easier, to save everyone time and effort. This way, we look at the ideas first, and select the ideas that are most popular, balanced out across artform, geography, diversity etc. We shortlist and only those shortlisted get to complete a full application form with up to 1 hour of support from people on the Unlimited team so that questions around criteria, budgeting, partners, producers and timescales can all be covered fully and everyone can submit the best applications they can. We don’t have capacity to offer this to everyone applying, but we can to everyone shortlisted.


  1. I work at a company – is Unlimited now only for individual artists? No! Sometimes we use the word ‘artist’ as a shorthand, but we mean individuals, companies, collectives, partnerships – however artists work best. We support work that is creatively led by disabled people, and we ask you to tell us how that applies to your situation.


  1. Is Unlimited really supporting work across all artforms? Yes! We have supported a full range of artforms to date and also much work that blurs the boundaries between different forms. We are consciously engaging in discussions around opening up access and visibility in different artforms, and agree that some are easier than others. We are committed to keeping pushing open those doors.


  1. What if I don’t want a commission, I just want my work to be part of an Unlimited Festival? We don’t programme the festivals – Southbank Centre programme their Unlimited Festival and Tramway programmed theirs. When we know more about what is happening in 2018 and how/if there are going to be open calls for work, we’ll pass the information on. Sign up to our newsletter to keep in the loop.


  1. Why are some commission streams open to artists living in one part of the UK and not others? It’s down to funding. We can only offer the opportunities we have the funding to deliver. We have funding from Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, British Council and Spirit of 2012 so check out the flowchart to see what you can apply for.


  1. What’s an emerging artist? Over the past three years we have supported some emerging artists to make work on a strategic basis and now it’s time to move that into an open commissions stream. So what is an ‘emerging’ artist? We define them as someone who has yet to receive major exhibition or showcasing opportunity and has not obtained extensive media coverage for their work. We also recognise that some artists, due to disability, may face barriers to education and training opportunities which their non-disabled peers do not have and so we do not define an emerging artist by age.


  1. Why International collaborations and not support for international disabled artists? Again, partly led by funding and partly because we are interested in the development potential of collaborations – on both sides. Unlimited was able to do this for 2012 and we are delighted we can do it again for 2018.


  1. Can I apply to everything? You can’t apply as an emerging artist and an established artist – you’ll have to decide where you fit. You can apply for the main stream (either a full commission or research and development) and for an international collaboration but you won’t be shortlisted for both. You can lead on one application and be mentioned delivering in up to two others.


Good luck with your applications! We can’t wait to hear about all your ideas and ambitions.