a birdseye view of a group of people conversating round a circle. There is a tree stump beside the group of people
Photo by Danny Hester

Continuing to support disabled artists: micro grants and more

We are continuing to support disabled artists.

We believe that disabled artists are more vital that ever at this moment. Many of us already have extensive experience in self isolation, in online and remote access, in pacing ourselves, and in managing grief, loss and loneliness. Some are experts by experience in this new territory and can be the guides, the comrades and the visionaries here.  

Equally, this is a moment to think about how the future must be different from the past. Unprecedented online access to events and activities is occurring, something many disabled artists have been told is impossible for years. But don’t leave us out – you can still caption, audio describe and interpret events on line. You can still create relaxed formats and schedules. And let’s not forget this new learning when our new normal begins again, whenever that might be.  

We’ve been listening to disabled artists connected to Unlimitedall of whom want and need different things right now: 

  • Some need to focus on survival – applying for stuff is not possible and opportunities are not wanted right now. The government must support everyone with dignity, equality, access and compassion and we are linking up and lobbying government, national agencies and others to make this happen.  
  • Some want quick and easy ways to get small amounts of funding to enable them to research, develop or make workinspired by or as a distraction from the current crisis. 
  • Some want to think ahead to plan for larger, bigger projects and feel that a series of small fixes will not help or enable those to happen. 

We are going to focus on what Unlimited do best  funding for disabled artists – so we are working on micro-grants programme that will launch in mid-April, in addition to our open commissions round launching in summer 2020.  

Short term support 

Over the next 4 months, from April until July, we will award a minimum of £50,000 in micro-grants 

  • At this stagethese grants are only available to artists in Unlimited’s Alumni – that is artists who have been awarded funds, been shortlisted, had a bursary or been linked to an Unlimited project before.  
  • The application process will be as simple as we can make it. 
  • The commissions do not need about the crisis, or something you can live stream or creating a product (but artists can apply for those activities if they wish). 
  • Decisions will be made by small panels made up of those who have previously been on selection panels for Unlimited meeting up remotely (and who will be paid to do so, if they are freelancers/selfemployed). 50% minimum will be disabled people. 
  • April will be our pilot phase and we’ll launch properly mid-April ready for May. 
  • There will be three deadlines – 5 May, 1 June, 6 July – so people don’t miss out if they don’t respond immediately. 
  • All bursaries will be for £1,000, with no match funding required 
  • With each round, we will ask for feedback about how we can make the application process as easy and accessible as possible, including ensuring these grants can reach learning disabled artists and those experiencing a variety of barriers to accessing such processes. 

Medium term support 

We are talking with a number of funders to see if we can extend the above for artists outside the current Unlimited Alumni. If we can, we’ll do so as quickly as the funding allows. 

Longer term support 

We are still fully committed to our usual open commissions process which is open to all disabled artists and will be announcing more information on how to apply as we head towards the summer. The timescale and processes will be the same as in previous years: 

  • Full information available about the awards – summer 2020 
  • Expression of Interest application portal opens – October 2020 
  • Shortlist announced and full application portal opens for those on the shortlist – December 2020 
  • Deadline for full applications for those on the shortlist – February 2021 
  • Award decisions – early April 2021 

There will be three strands: main commissions, R&D awards and awards for emerging artists, and each strand will include the opportunity to apply for ideas entirely of your own, and ideas linked to a number of different partners. We are busy sorting these out now and will share the information as soon as we have it confirmed. 

In addition to the open commissions round, a limited number of strategic awards will still be made to support work and activity that links to underrepresented areas in the Unlimited portfolio of work.