A glass-like material formed into an abstract oval, flat shape. It is transparent, though parts are less clear than others. It is atop a grey table and the image is looking down from above.
Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings - River Runs Through - c. the artistOmeima Mudawi-Rowlings - River Runs Through - courtesy of the artist

Last of the Summer Micro awards… 

Last week was the last of the Micro Commissions selection process which has been running since May.  Abby Hoffmann  reflects on the last few months.  

When lockdown started in March it was clear that this would have a profound effect on the arts sector as a whole but would impact disabled artists particularly as measures such as quarantine and shielding meant contact and connections with other artists had to take a different form. As dancer Kimberly Harvey says: “In the current climate, our work as freelance artists feels even more precarious and so, finding ways that enable us to continue communicating and creating together feels like an absolute lifeline”   

In total we had 137 applications and made 66 awards, 16 more than the 50 we initially planned. Finding the extra £16,000 wasn’t easy but we felt it was important to divert every scrap of spare budget we could to these, to give out as many awards as possible. The success rate was 48% so for just over every successful applicant, there was someone we had to say no to.   

In these challenging times we understand how hard it is not to be selected for an award. In a competitive process some will always gain funds and others not, although that doesn’t make it any easier, and all panel members really struggled with this, especially in this last round. 

Number crunching 

As promised from last month’s blog, we’ve committed to always publishing data on who applies to Unlimited. So here is some of the key data we’ve collected on applicants and those gaining micro awards: Of the 137 who applied: 

  •  23% define as people of colour and 77% define as white, white irish and white other (including people defining in relation to europe/wider europe) 
  •  48% identify as female, 42% as male and 9% as non-binary 
  • 30% are between 35-44, 26% between 25-34, 24% 45-54, 15% 55-64, 2% 18-24 and 2% 65 plus 

Of the 66 artists awarded: 

  •  27% define as people of colour and 73% define as white, white irish and white other (including people defining in relation to europe/wider europe) 
  • 35% live in London, 14% North, 14% Midlands, 12% South East, 9% South West, 9% Scotland, 6% Wales and 2% now live beyond the UK.

The July awards 

The panel was Sarah Pickthall (Chair) Andrew MillerKai Syng Tan (Independent) and Ellie Liddell-CreweHarry Murdoch (Unlimited) The artists awarded were: 

  • Aby Watson – to explore and research neurodivergent embodiment by building on an existing method of dance notation which facilitates movement memory
  • Alexandrina Hemsley – to develop the writing strand of “Words Collect in My Mouth’ and create a series of podcasts which will explore the experiences of body based practices, advocacy and action 
  • Bobby Baker – to further develop a previous work.  EPIC DOMESTIC is a project raising awareness of the importance of domestic labour 
  • Emma Allen  to develop a series of light refracting sculptures of human forms that can be exhibited at Light Festivals and other events and galleries 
  • Ian Wornast – to develop artistic practice with 1-1 mentoring, setting up a home studio and networking with other artists 
  • Jackie Hagan – to work with an IT facilitator and gain new skills in this area to improve access longer term 
  • Jane Gauntlett – to enable story development on ‘Its our Pleasure’ a multidisciplinary project which aims to develop an online platform merging intimacy, pleasure and digital technology 
  • Kimberley Harvey – to research how the relationship in the dance film ‘Between and Almost’ could be articulated through a verbal and written language 
  • John McDonald – to create a mobile art gallery in a van for touring to SEND schools, care homes, rural locations and other hard-to-reach communities
  • Mandy Redvers-Rowe – to research and develop ‘Shielded and Shafted’ a new script based on how the lockdown has excluded and marginalised disabled people 
  • Milton Lopes – to research and develop a new piece of writing which explores how people behave in the work space during lockdown and the impact of social distancing on relationships 
  • Mish Weaver – to observe neurodiverse patterns with (juggled) objects 
  • Paul Darke – To create a free downloadable, E-Book (for potential expansion and print) of United Nations’ International Year of Disabled Persons Postage Stamps from 1981 
  • Priya Mistry – to explore how broadcasting technology could be applied to Socially Engaged practices and Live Audience engagement 
  • Ramesh Meyyappan  – to create an accessible script that will support how deaf and hearing work together when creating a piece of theatre
  • Rosie Heafford – To research and develop the idea of audio dance experiences – dancing stories for children 
  • Steph Back – to work with leading digital experts to explore the possibilities of taking “I Said I Loved  You‘ into a digital space 
  • Zoe Partington – to create 3 experimental audio description sound files that can be used to assist with future work, ‘Domestic Imaginary Landscapes’ 

Whilst we are congratulating people, huge congratulations to Unlimited alumni Bob Spriggs and Anna Berry who were both awarded a grant from the Henry Moore Foundation last month and to Suzie Larke and Tsuko Maela who will be working together (whilst apart) as part of a Sheffield Doc/Fest mini residency.  

Other opportunities 

We are running additional micro awards with Coventry 2021  (deadline 21 August), and a  dance commission with Siobhan Davies Dance (deadline 10 August) and this week, we launch all the information on our next round of commissions – for our main awards, research and development awards and emerging artists awards. These are for much larger sums – up to £10,000 for the R&D and emerging awards and up to £80,000 for some of the main awards. We’d strongly encourage you to look at these as possible options for funding (information will be on the website from 29 July).