Visual note taking from Unlimited Connects Midlands, by Laura Brodrick
Visual note taking from Unlimited Connects Midlands, by Laura Brodrick

Unlimited’s 2019 Review

In the first month of 2020, Unlimited’s senior producer Jo Verrent looks back at 2019 to remember all that happened. Are you sure that was only 12 months?

We thought 2018 had been a year, but in looking back at 2019 we can see that it more than matched it for both breadth and depth.

At the centre, of course, were our artists and their work, with the announcement of new commissions stretching into fresh territories. These included Justin Edgar and The Disabled Armed Resistance Movement, Mohammad Barrangi. There were strategic commissions with GOSH and Second Hand Dance, Christopher Samuel at Blackpool Art B&B, Katy Rose Bennett‘s work with English Folk Expo, and John MacDonald’s residency at Chapel Arts Centre.

Our Unlimited allies remain central to our delivery – the partners above being testament to this – and to the highly successful Connects events in Salford, Stoke, Salisbury, Colchester and Cardiff that provided great opportunities for artists and allies alike to meet up and tackle some key themes. Why not come along to one of the Unlimited Connects Wales events in the Spring or one of our forthcoming rural focused events in Thirsk and Bridgwater to be part of the conversation in 2020?

2019 was the year that our three-year international programme supported by Arts Council England and the British Council ended, enabling us to report on some frankly astounding statistics including an incredible reach into 141 different countries across the world, share two more international case studies on Baluji Shrivastav and Rachel Gadsden, and give out still more packs of our popular Cards for Inclusion. We also awarded bursaries for a number of international events, and reported on attending IntegrART, Switzerland, the Festival of Silence, Milan, Grenzenlos Kultur Festival, Germany, No Limits Festival in Berlin and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We called out for our 2020 International Placements whilst reflecting on our previous placements. Just watch this space to find out who will be coming over to spend time with us in 2020.

Diverse voices

We opened up our blog to widen the range of voices, including a series on the social model with input from Dennis Queen, Joel Brown, Jez Colborne and Amble Skuse, with guest posts by Linda Rocco on Unlimited artists, activism in the arts, digital technology and the Disability Arts Movement. We called out for new bloggers and shared resources from other organisations.

The team changed as we said hello to Harry, Mojere and Alistair and goodbye to James (in text and video) and Sarah (in text and video). Through the year, the team had the chance to write pieces on what they were noticing around them, such as on the increased visibility of the need for rest, and a reflection on a stay at the Producer Farm.

As a programme, we looked more widely at how we tell the story of the work, share our platforms, and raged about how disabled artists are still invisible within our sector. Thanks to funding from Spirit of 2012, we created new resources on accessible commissioning, recruitment and events to help spread best practice more widely through the sector.

What’s happening in early 2020?

In addition to the events above, coming up are:

And there is plenty more to come. Finally, don’t forget to put 9-13 September 2020 in your diaries for Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival. It’s going to be another busy year!