Both actors are seen from the waist up, both have their arms in the air and are either singing or both projecting their voices.
Steph Back and Ioan Gwyn, rehearsal of ‘I Said I Love You’. Photo Kirsten Mcternan

Launch of Unlimited Connects Wales

Unlimited has been working in-depth in Wales for the last year on a series of events called Unlimited Connects Wales. These were not without incident. After the first 5 (at Wales Millennium Centre, The Torch, Galeri Caernarfon, Ffwrnes Llanelli and Theatr Brycheiniog), Wales was battered by storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge and then by Covid 19 which meant our event with VaGW had to switch to a digital format and ones with Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Taliesin Swansea were cancelled. Read on to find out what happened next and to join us at the final event, on 5 August 2020.

Today we launch a new publication and invite you to attend an online event celebrating all things linking disability, arts and Wales. The journey here hasn’t been easy but the results have been worth it!

Unlimited Connects Wales: the publication

Unlimited Connects Wales was an Arts Council of Wales lottery funded project to amplify the impact of disabled artists in Wales at a time where focus, support and inspiration was needed, creating a programme where Welsh venues/organisations owned and led their own interventions.

The events brought together disabled artists, audiences and/or other interested parties with cultural sector partners and meant people could discuss key and relevant issues determined by the location. They also gave us a chance to showcase product by disabled artists and be inspired, provoked and informed about what is and could be possible. This publication captures and adds to the thinking from all the events, and helps us all move forward.

It contains a series short essays on a range of topics including Disability Art and Disability Politics by Sara Beer, Our Art by Suzie Larke, Access by Elise Davison, Taking Flight, Audience Development by Ben Pettitt-Wade, Hijinx and the Next Generation by Steph Back. It also includes access contacts and top tips for running accessible events, as well as listing links to all the organisations and artists that have been part of Unlimited Connects events in Wales so far.

It’s in English and Welsh, has live links throughout and is available to download from today from here in its main format and as a plain Word doc with image descriptions. An Easy Read version will be added soon (and please contact us if you would like another format). Enjoy!

Unlimited Connects Wales: Into the Future

There is a lot of talk about the future at the moment – we want to talk about the future too, a future that ensures disabled artists are fully included in all cultural activity and opportunities. That’s the focus of our final event in this series.

The aim is to create a day with plenty of breaks and lots of options as we know different people have different needs – why not come for all or part of it? Co-designed by Jonny Cotsen and Jorge Lizalde it aims to be bit different to some of the online events you might have attended before.

The day will begin with a warm up – a chance to stretch out and prepare for the day ahead, led by Karina Jones. That’s from 10.30 – 11.00am. You can even join and have your video turned off, so no excuses!

The main element of the day is the panel discussion from 11.30 – 1.00pm with its focus on the future. This is the question we’ve chosen to tackle: ‘Disabled artists may be getting more developed, varied and successful than ever but they are still vulnerable especially in post/Covid world. How will the Welsh cultural sector ensure disabled artists are still placed centre stage in their plans as they reopen, redevelop and redesign their futures?’

The panel, to be chaired by Jo Verrent, senior producer for Unlimited, will include Ruth Fabby from Disability Arts Cymru, Roy Barry, winner of DAC Art Prize, and Kaite O’Reilly, playwright and Unlimited awarded artist 3 times over.

After a break, there are three sessions running from 2-3.00pm. You get the chance to join one:

  • Youth arts session: ‘Young Disabled People face barriers when accessing artistic activity. What should we be doing to remove these specific barriers to young people moving forward?’ led by Steph Back from Taking Flight Youth Theatre
  • Welsh Language session: ‘What language should we be using both on and off stage?’ Session led by Jenna Preece and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru..
  • Venues session: ‘How can rural venues support disabled artists, participants and audiences – has the game changed?’ –  With Megan Merrett from Creu Cymru and Toki Allison from Film Hub Wales

At the end of the day, from 3.30-4.00pm, there will be a final session led by Jonny Cotsen and Ruth Fabby asking what people what they will take away from today.

As well as playing with innovative ways to deliver access on the day (thanks to Jorge Lizalde), we are asking those attending to help us create content for the day.

People will be asked to provide two things. The first is a list of anything they have done for disabled artists, participants and audience members in Wales during lockdown, plus a photo of their venue, space or activity – this is so we can create a positive record of what was achieved in this unusual time.

For the second thing, we are asking anyone attending who has a live link to any work by disabled artists that is currently available to share it with us so we can curate a list of links for attendees so we can end the day with a chance to see brilliant art from across Wales.

So, if you are based in or work in Wales and interested in the equality of disabled artists – and who isn’t? –  here is a quick checklist. Have you?

See you on the 5 August! – #UnlimitedConnects Wales