A large room where people are networking and footage of dancers is projected on the wall.
IETM Milan. Photo by James Greenhalgh

British Council bursaries: three international opportunities

Earlier this year, Unlimited mentioned that it was teaming up with British Council again to enable disabled artists and producers to attend events throughout Europe in 2019 and 2020. Find out more about the events and how you could gain a bursary, plus access support to come along… 

The British Council and Unlimited are pairing up to offer bursaries for disabled artists and producers to contribute to the costs of attending some events in Europe this autumn and next spring. Previously, our partnership has supported groups of disabled artists and producers to attend IETM events in Valencia, Porto, Brussels and Munich, and we are working with them again to support this process as well as to coordinate access support for bursary recipients.  

As Ben Evans, the British Council’s Head of Arts & Disability in the European Union Region, mentioned before:

“The British Council has long-identified IETM as a key place that Europe’s performing artists and producers gather on equal terms with venues and programmers – not to pitch works at one another, but to engage in debate and to build long-term relationships which can flourish into artistic opportunities. Our partnership with Unlimited aims to ensure that the UK’s disabled artists benefit from this network, and we genuinely want more applications from a wider group of artists and producers”. 

For this iteration, there is a single application form for the THREE events to which we can offer bursaries: two IETM plenary meetings and also the No Limits Festival in Berlin. 


IETM (Informal European Theatre Meeting) is a network of over 500 performing arts organisations and individuals working in contemporary performance in Europe and all over the world. It commissions publications and research projects, and advocates for the value of performing arts. Its events are a great opportunity to meet international colleagues and to broaden your understanding of the global opportunities and challenges for performing arts in the 21st century. Each meeting is developed by member organisations and each has a specific focus and usually attracts between 200-500 people for a four day event.

Clara Giraud, Project Manager for Unlimited, has been involved with the network for several years, and recently joined its Advisory Board

Making space for cross-cultural exchanges about why and how we do what we do as cultural workers is crucial to ensuring a relevant, vibrant and responsive cultural sector. IETM offers a relaxed platform to confront different ways of thinking through meeting and conversations, it is a network which can be experienced as a one-off or occasional sector event, or an ongoing long-term dialogue across borders. It has helped me find my place both locally and internationally, and given me a network of peers to turn to.”

The first event is IETM Rijeka Plenary Meeting in Croatia, 24 to 27 October 2019 

The theme is Audiences and the event aims to deepen and challenge understanding of the broad and complex discussions around participation, cultural democracy, everyday creativity, audience development and ownership. 

In relation to access, we know Rijeka is a Croatian port city with picturesque (but challenging) stairs and cobbled streets. Check out a guide to wheelchair access here: https://www.handiscover.com/content/tips-articles/wheelchair-accessible-rijeka/. As with all the opportunities, we can provide additional access where possible, but we are restricted by the geographic location and local facilities to some extent, so not all the events are equally accessible to everyone. 

The second is the No Limits Festival, in Berlin, Germany.  The biennial is an important event in Germany’s disability arts calendar. The festival works with a number of established venues within Berlin’s thriving independent scene to present many of Germany’s leading disabled-led companies and disabled artists. This opportunity is a chance to experience a cultural aesthetic which is very different from the UK, as well as to network with a totally new set of artists and arts professionals. It is running from 6/7 to 16 November 2019 and the full programme will be published on 10 July 2019. 

In relation to physical access, Berlin provides many options and even has its own access app and it’s easy to gain further information online. 

The third is the IETM plenary in Spring 2020. As yet, the location, dates and theme of this meeting are not publicly known – so at this stage, we know it’s a bit of a lucky dip! 


If selected, you will receive a bursary of £500 towards your costs of attending, perhaps to cover your accommodation and travel. We’ll then work with you to look at access provision, usually met by a mix of Access to Work and our access budget. 

How to apply 

We have a single application form which you can use to express an interest in one, two or all of these events 

You can only have a bursary from British Council/Unlimited to attend two IETM plenary meetings, so: 

  • if you have received one before, you can apply to attend one more of the IETM events and No Limits
  • if you have received two bursaries already, you can only apply to go to No Limits
  • if you’ve never had a bursary before you can apply for all three opportunities if you want – but it doesn’t mean you’ll be selected for all three!

We are interested in knowing what plans disabled artists and producers have for their personal development and how these opportunities might feed into such plans, hence we are running a single application process covering all events, rather than making people apply repeatedly. The form can be accessed here and the deadline for applications is 22 July 2019. 

A final word from Ben Evans:

“The British Council’s mission is to encourage greater cultural exchange between the UK and other countries. These 3 bursaries offer a chance to experience and learn from 3 very different cultural contexts – allowing you to reflect on your own practice whilst experiencing a different aesthetic, a different way of making work, and a different political context. These bursaries are designed to support as wide a diversity of applicants as possible – as we hope our delegations represent the UK’s broad and varied arts sector.”