A woman sat in a wheelchair laughing in conversation with a man who is smiling. They are sat next to a table with a laptop, pamphlet and mobile phone on top.
Photo by Rachel Cherry

New Pathways Through Partnerships

We recently announced our latest callout for Unlimited Awards 2019. Last round, we partnered with Wellcome to grant a Research and Development Award. This time, we have extended this partnership model to include five different organisations, to make a range of Commissions and Research & Development Awards available. Unlimited Project Manager Clara Giraud tells us more about these awards and the opportunities they create.

One of the key objectives of Unlimited is to encourage the embedding of ambitious, high quality work by disabled artists and companies in the wider cultural sector. Working closely with a diverse range of organisations that not only present work by artists but also support development and creation is a way for us to ensure a deeper impact for Unlimited, to embed inclusion at the heart of our working process.

We’re excited to be working with five organisations that offer a range of scales, contexts, audiences, expertise and networks across artforms. Partnering with these organisations allows us to offer more awards, and to add to our open callout for established artists and companies. It means we can offer some awards with specific briefs for artists to respond to – which we know some artists prefer. And it also means we increase the amount of funding available. From an original grant amount total of £350,000 to offer to artists and companies, we now have over £70,000 in additional funding making our total budget in excess of £420,000.

But it’s not all about money – our partners add value in many ways, including in relation to form. These Partnership Awards encourage artists to consider stretching their practices in specific directions: developing a sculptural piece for a forest context (with Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust), shaping a project in response to hospital patients and staff (with GOSH Arts), re-examining the notion of rural touring by exploring the potential of village halls and communities (with Farnham Maltings), challenging what cross-disciplinary might mean (with Forma), and delving into the world of biomedical research (with Wellcome Collection).

Remember, there is a change this year. Artists and companies choosing to apply to Unlimited can submit up to two proposals, providing either one or both of these is aimed at a Partnership Award. All proposals, regardless of whether they are applying to a Partnership Award or not, will be considered for the Main Unlimited Commissions and R&D Awards, respectively – applicants are not reducing their chances of gaining funding by applying to a Partnership Award.

But what do these partners really want? Always best to hear it from the horse’s mouth, as it were, so over to them…

Farnham Maltings:
‘For me, there are extraordinary opportunities in making work for village halls and we want to encourage everybody to explore what happens when you make work with specific communities rather than necessarily arts goers..’ – Gavin Stride, Director

Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust:
For over 30 years we have been supporting innovation by artists in a forest environment including work by Cornelia Parker and David Nash. We’re delighted to be partnering with Unlimited to explore new ideas inspired by the unique heritage and landscape of the Forest of Dean.’ – Cathy Mager, Project Director

“Forma are very excited to work alongside Unlimited to support the creation of new cross-disciplinary work by an artist who faces barriers in their career. We believe that contemporary art is changing, and engagement with all kinds of perspectives across many different media is more urgent than ever. We are delighted to apply our expertise in traversing creative boundaries to supporting the development of underrepresented voices in the UK and beyond.” – Rachel C Clark, Producer

GOSH Arts:
‘We are incredibly excited to be working with Unlimited on these Awards. This partnership gives us the opportunity to raise the quality and reach of our arts programme, and show that arts in hospitals can be exciting and transformative.’ – Susie Hall, Head of Arts

Wellcome Collection:
‘This is our second round of work with Unlimited and we’re delighted to partner on both an R&D and Main Commission.  These awards give us the chance to work alongside artists to explore what can be uplifting, challenging, joyful and confusing spaces where science, medicine, life and art overlap.  And they open us up both to exploring the earliest glimmers of ideas, and the vital process of making work for an audience.’ – David Cahill-Roots, National Arts Partnership Manager

We’ve updated our FAQs with some questions and answers linked to these Partnership Awards, these might give you a greater insight in the opportunities on offer, and help you decide if your project might be right for them.

The deadline for Expressions of Interests across all strands is 29 October 2018 at 12 midday. Full information on how to apply here.