James, a young white man, stands to the left of the frame, in front of a desk on which a card game is displayed. He is stood in profile, conversing with two people to his right who seem to be asking a question.
Photo by Rachel Cherry

My Traineeship with Unlimited – James Greenhalgh

As applications open for the next Unlimited traineeship at Shape, current trainee, James Greenhalgh reflects on his year with us and what he has learned: 

I didn’t know much about Unlimited when I applied but I quickly came to learn about the brilliant and vital work the team do to offer talented disabled artists the funds and support to develop, produce and show ambitious work. I moved down to London for the traineeship in September and I couldn’t have predicted what the coming year had in store for me.

The role is really flexible, covering many different things – variety is the name of the game here. It’s a great opportunity to meet lots of people working in the creative sector and gain a real insight into different art forms, funding and how the arts industry works. It’s taught me about the role of a producer and the complex process behind-the-scenes to develop a piece of work artistically as well as from an administrative angle. During my time at Unlimited I’ve supported events in Manchester and London, seen sharings of new work in Cambridge and Glasgow and travelled to meet commissioned artists to discuss their projects in Edinburgh, Surrey, Bristol and Cardiff.

Working for Unlimited has also meant I’ve learnt new ways of making things more inclusive for others, removing any barriers to the creative process and trying to make the process as flexible as possible. For example, I provide alt text for images on our website and social media for the benefit of visually-impaired audiences, I’ve typed up transcripts translating from British Sign Language to written English and I’ve created Easy Read versions of documents, which has made abundantly clear to me the value of doing things differently. This inclusive environment has also meant that I’ve been able to identify my own access needs to figure out how I work best, using palantypists and lipspeakers in meetings with the help of Access to Work.

Being a trainee here has been a completely eye-opening experience – there will be times when you will be challenged and boundaries will be pushed but Unlimited is an environment where you can focus on the skills you want to develop and grow. It has given me a better understanding of myself and I know I can take all I’ve learned with me wherever I go next. With applications open now for the next trainee I encourage anyone who would like to learn more about the art industry, to gain experience within the sector or is maybe looking for a different direction and wants to try something new – to definitely apply! I’ve had a fantastic year with Unlimited.