A wheelchair user wearing a red jumper is talking to an Unlimited team member across a table at a busy Connects event.
Unlimited Connects at Watershed. Photo by Jon Aitken.

Equality in the arts sector – Unlimited needs you…

Continued funding for Unlimited means more commissions for disabled artists and companies, yet that’s just one part of the jigsaw. This opportunity to develop Unlimited needs a range of individuals and organisations to connect up. How else can we all work together to create a fairer cultural system?

The cultural sector in the UK is large, with 831 National Portfolio Organisations in England alone, plus many organisations, buildings and programmes funded through a wide variety of sources such as DCMS, local authorities, the Arts Councils of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, charitable trusts, sponsorship and private giving.

Unlimited is just one small part of the ecosystem – alongside other brilliant organisations, activities, programmes and projects. It’s certainly not the only answer to developing equality in the arts sector. We want to join up as much as we can with others; see our previous blog on sharing platforms, sharing power. We want to learn from best practice and generally be part of a sector that is not just striving to make a difference, but that is excited and enthusiastic for change, and ready to make decisions that make it happen.

As we go forward, what are we going to need?

Allies 

Our Allies Scheme is where we link directly into this ecosystem. It means we can tap into organisations and individuals who might have the skills, facilities or provisions that a particular artist or company we are supporting needs. We do this through the year, especially once we have shortlisted artists and companies and they are developing full applications – which is when we introduce them to a range of allies that might be helpful to them.

Being an ally means sharing our principles and working together for equality in the arts – maybe through sharing news or amplifying opportunities, or programming or mentoring an artist or artwork, or reading and actioning reports or resources on best practice. You can find out more and sign up here.

We are currently looking to our allies to help us develop more Partner Awards for the forthcoming round of commissions. Last time we partnered with Farnham Maltings, Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, GOSH, Wellcome Collection and Forma. These partnerships are designed to help us extend our practice into areas we have not yet reached.

Currently we are looking to support awards with organisations who have specialisms in: literature for the page, music, dance, work for outdoors, work for children, art and technology, and also organisations that have exceptional practice in working with Artists of Colour and trans communities.

We are looking for Partners for our main Awards, for our R&D awards, and for those linked to emerging artists. If you want to find out more about co-commissioning with Unlimited, then please contact our senior producer Jo Verrent.

Different views and perspectives 

The next two years are going to bring even more ways people can connect to and work with Unlimited.

This week we begin advertising a new Arts Support contract. This is a freelance contract for anyone based anywhere within the UK to join the Unlimited core delivery team and provide some (but not all) of the following: supporting artists that Unlimited are already working with, the development of commission application material, applicants applying to Unlimited’s new commissions round, developing our allies scheme, being part of Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival (9-13 Sept 2020), plus other core delivery team tasks. You can find out more information, including how to apply, here. The deadline to apply is 5pm on Sunday 15 March 2020.

A couple of other contracts will follow in the next few weeks – one to help us with our organisational development and one to help with our brand and communications. These will be announced via our social media or you can drop us an email at info@weareunlimited.org.uk to be sent either directly.

And later in the year we will be advertising for a number of people to become part of an independent board, to help steer Unlimited’s future.

There are also our on going Connects events – a chance for artists and allies to come together and find out more, about both each other and the sector as a whole.

All in all, the future of Unlimited looks exciting and dynamic but continues to rely upon the collaboration, support, and energy of an expansive network of creatives. Unlimited’s continued funding brings with it the opportunity for us to widen our network and for you to be involved in making that happen. Perhaps you know of a network or opportunity we should be part of? Don’t miss out, and don’t let us miss out, either!