A group of Chinese artists sketching and painting their artwork in a studio
Photo by Jo Verrent

Announcing the new British Council Unlimited Micro Awards

Round two is now open! See below for how to apply or read about the successful projects from round one here.

With physical travel for artists still at a standstill, it’s time to reimagine international ways of working. We know that even to meet up online and dream takes capacity, so today we launch a new partnership between the British Council and Unlimited. The partnership supports pairings of disabled artists and collectives in the UK with those in selected countries to develop creative connections through small shared online work collaborations. The aim is to ensure that funds continue to flow to artists and artistic global ambition remains high during this time of global pandemic. Abby Hoffmann shares the details…

Disabled people around the globe faced unique and unprecedented additional challenges in 2020 – due to lack of access, stereotypical assumptions and ableism and, for some, increased clinical susceptibility to COVID-19. As vaccines beckon and ‘new normals’ emerge, both Unlimited and the British Council want to ensure disabled artists are able to respond confidently with alternative options and models to do what they always do: help us imagine the world differently.

We want 2021 to be a year of building – relationships, bridges, connections, and new dreams that take the best of what we have learnt from lockdown and amplify it, taking us forward into a more sustainable future for all. One thing that we have all realised is that geographic distance needn’t stop us collaborating or planning ahead. This new fund has been designed to respond to this time, providing space and opportunity for up to 20 pairs of artists or collectives to be supported to begin those processes.

International arts projects sometimes focus on wealthier countries. However, with this initiative, we aim to strengthen links between UK artists and practitioners from countries that are low to middle-income.

What will be funded?

Funded by British Council and administered by Unlimited, these micro awards are to support artists in this uncertain time to build connections/collaborations, rather than to create work. The funding can cover a range of purposes – for example, reflecting on past work, using the time to explore different creative processes together, or even planning to create small iterations of new work, if relevant.

Each application must be led by a UK disabled artist or company/collective working with a UK disabled artist and applications can be for up to £2500. This includes up to £1000 for each artist or collective, and up to £500 for administration, translation, and equipment. Access funding is available separately – both to support access to applications and/or access to support the project.

If access costs higher than anticipated, fewer Awards will be made to ensure access costs can be covered for all. Funding can cover 100% of the project costs, or part-fund them if other sources of funding are available.  It is assumed that activity will be remote. Any activities that are not, must comply with the COVID-19 restrictions throughout.

Each pair will be led by a disabled artist or collective based in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, pairing up with a disabled artist or collective based in selected countries and territories eligible to receive official development assistance (ODA).

These countries are: Albania, Argentina, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, China (People’s Republic of), Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Serbia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan,  Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

We want to hear from the full diversity of disabled artists, working in any discipline across the UK. By using the term ‘disabled artist’ we aim to include artists who identify as being disabled, D/deaf, neurodiverse/neurodivergent and those experiencing chronic illness, mental health conditions, and more. We understand that different people prefer different terminology. You do not have to prefer the term ‘disabled person’ to apply. Artists whose work centres around disability and/or impairment are welcome to apply, as are those whose work does not.

Criteria and selection

There will be two rounds with up to ten awards available for each round. If you apply for round one and are selected, you cannot apply for round two. If you apply to round one and are not selected, you can apply to round two but not with the same idea or partnership.

All applications will be read by a selection panel of six. This will be formed of two people from Unlimited’s delivery team, two from British Council and two independent disabled panelists. All panels will be 50% minimum disabled people.

Applications will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • Is the project and/or idea disabled-led? (It is acknowledged that in many countries, disabled artists are in a different position to those in the UK)
  • Is the partnership or are the idea/s being explored innovative and/or ambitious?
  • Does the partnership and/or project have the potential to lead to future developments?

Please note this is a competitive opportunity. Depending on the number of applications, a shortlist of up to 25 projects will be drawn up for each round from the highest scoring applications, balanced to ensure geographic representation. Projects that do not make the shortlist will have simple feedback provided, drawn from panel members brief written comments. Those who make the shortlist and are not funded will have more detailed feedback, drawn from the panel discussion when their application was discussed.

How to apply

Application is via our online portal. In the application form, we ask for a brief overview of your idea, information on both artists/collectives and your previous work, an estimated budget, and a sense of the impact you think a micro award could make.

Applications are available in alternative formats, and can be made in alternative formats, including video. Access support is available for those making applications – please see the full brief for further information.

There are two rounds:

  • Deadline for round one: noon, Tuesday 23 March 2021
  • Deadline for round two: noon, Tuesday 18 May 2021 (round two will  not open until after Easter 2021)

For the first round, we expect to make decisions by 30 April 2021 and all projects must be completed by the end of September 2021.

For the second round, we expect to make decisions by 25 June 2021 and all projects must be completed by the end of November 2021.

We will open the second round on 12 April.

Further information

Further information is available in the British Council Unlimited Micro Awards brief which is available as:


  • British Council Unlimited Micro Awards brief as a BSL video (below)

Any questions, please email info@weareunlimited.org.uk or phone 07506 679968.

This opportunity is brought to you by the British Council in partnership with Unlimited.