Announcing the 2019 Unlimited Commissions

We are delighted to announce the latest Unlimited awards with over £550,000 to support the development of ambitious new artistic work by 26 disabled artists and companies. 

Unlimited supports disabled artists to create and present exceptional work across all art forms. Since 2013, Unlimited has provided nearly £4 million to 280 disabled artists through commissions, awards and support, making it the largest supporter of disabled artists worldwide. 

We are currently funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, British Council and Spirit of 2012, and delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin. We are delighted to be able to offer Partnership Awards this year, working with Wellcome Collection, Farnham Maltings, Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, GOSH Arts and Forma.

These new projects are supported through four different types of award:

  • 7 Main Commissions for a full commission project by established disabled artists and companies to develop an idea through to production and presentation.
  • 10 Research and Development (R&D) Awards for mid-career artists to explore a new creative project.
  • 6 Emerging Artist Awards for artists who are still early in their career to develop or produce a new artwork or participatory project.
  • 3 Strategic Commissions, filling gaps within our current portfolio of works

“Unlimited is an incredibly powerful opportunity for organisations like Arts Council England to support some of England’s most talented disabled artists. We’ve been extremely proud to invest in the creativity of all the Unlimited artists over the years and I know that this year’s cohort will continue to push artistic barriers, through their innovative and ambitious projects.”
– Claire Saddleton, Arts Council England

The 2019 awarded artists and works include:

  • Bim Ajadi – HERE/NOT HERE. A deaf hip hop music drama, showcasing a new kind of story-telling language combining sign, dance music and Visual Vernacular, and aimed at hearing and deaf audiences.
  • Sop – You are already here. What happens if we reject the binary of ‘sick’ and ‘well’? Film, workshop and performances on topics from the pharmaceutical industry to gender identity engage with chronically ill folx/people and their allies.
  • Matilda Ibini – A.I.D.A.N. A theatre piece imagines that the government introduces AI (artificial intelligence) support workers in the face of rising social care costs, but can their controlling behaviour be unlearned.

You can explore all the awarded artists and works on our Commissions pages.

“This superb batch of artworks in receipt of Unlimited’s awards showcases perfectly disabled creatives’ brilliant capacity for artistic innovation and break-out content. These ambitious projects are provocative, dangerous, challenging and cast light on the way we all live now, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how they develop and I am hugely delighted that they show so well the importance and success of Shape’s purpose – to remove barriers for creative excellence to grow, impact and change the creative landscape for all.”
– David Hevey, Chief Executive, Shape Arts

“This year’s inspiring and ambitious Unlimited Commissions are a vibrant spectrum of disabled artists’ voices, perspectives and reflections on contemporary life, exploring everything from intersectionality to armed resistance, the social care system, emerging technologies and beyond. Artsadmin is delighted to continue our partnership with Shape Arts to deliver the Unlimited programme, celebrating excellent new work by disabled artists, as well as pushing agendas around inclusion within the cultural sphere.”
– Dr. Cecilia Wee, Head of Artist Development, Artsadmin

The works were selected from over 270 applications, then whittled down to a shortlist of 50 projects before the final decisions were made by three selection panels made up of at least 50% disabled arts professionals and artists, includingArts Council England, Southbank Centre and Wellcome Collection, and chaired by an independent disabled sector specialist.

“We’re always excited to welcome the announcement of Unlimited’s Commission Awards. They never fail to be bold, ambitious and exciting, celebrating extraordinary and distinctive creative talents. We’re proud to be able to support a programme that strives to support artists and encourage them to make challenging work of the highest quality.”
– Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Wales

“I am excited to see the wealth of new ideas from UK d/Deaf and disabled artists and I look forward to working with many of them on British Council projects around the world. To date, the British Council has worked with Unlimited commissioned artists in over 40 countries, encouraging international exchange and helping the UK to be recognised as a world leader in disabled-led arts. We are proud to be working together to transform the global artistic landscape and create far-reaching social change.”
– Carole McFadden, British Council

“The rich diversity of this year’s Spirit Unlimited Impact commissions across dance, literature, theatre and combined arts is dazzling. We are delighted to be enabling six such talented emerging artists to express their creativity, reach new audiences and advance their careers.”
– Debbie Lye, Spirit of 2012

Previous Unlimited-supported commissions included high-profile works such as Kate O’Reilly’s And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore/UK ‘d’ Monologues, The British Paraorchestra’s The Nature of Why, Unlimited House of Krip by Fittings and Kristina Veasey’s My Dirty Secret!.

About the 2019 awardees

Main Awards

R&D Awards

Emerging Artists Commissions

Strategic Commissions

Download the press release in Word and PDF formats