Two models in carnival attire looking directly into the camera.
Figure 3 Alegria Samba School, VIVA

Supporting Learning Disabled Artists

Negotiating funding guidelines, writing applications and drafting budgets can be a daunting prospect for many people. Ahead of our next funding round, opening this autumn, we thought we’d share a bit more about our work with learning disabled artists and how, through these collaborations, we are looking to improve the accessibility of our funding processes for all.

We are lucky enough to work with a huge variety of artists creating across art forms, showing work around the globe, and representing a wide range of identities. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot from working with different artists, their teams and collaborators – each working relationship is unique, and frames the creative process in a different way.

Unlimited funds work that is disabled-led, meaning that the lead creative voice in any project that we support must be that of someone or several people that identify as disabled. How do we ensure that this includes learning disabled artists? We embrace collaboration, and we give artists and their collaborators the opportunity to explain to us how disabled-led artistic leadership works for them.

In 2014, we supported Ian Johnston’s redevelopment and tour of Dancer, which has continued touring until now from Aberdeen to Norway and Berlin, challenging notions of who can define as a dancer. In 2016, we commissioned Cameron Morgan’s ode to pop culture TV Classics Part 1, first presented at the prestigious Glasgow International Festival and still touring. More recently, we’ve funded Delson Weekes’ collaboration with Blink Dance Theatre, Pull Up, creating a performative concept album. VIVA Carnival’s Unlimited International collaboration Alegria Samba School is taking over the streets, and you can catch it at the Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival this September. These are only a few of the projects by learning disabled artists that we’ve supported over the years, and we’ve learned a lot about collaborations and leadership through them. This interview of Project Ability and Action Space gives an insight into some of those learning points for us.

This autumn, we will open another round of funding for artists, offering Emerging Awards, Main Research and Development Awards and Main Commissions. We invite any enquiries about the application process, and offer financial support for assistance in putting in an application if required. We accept applications in different formats, and invite artists to use the supporting materials to provide videos, visuals, recordings to convey their idea to the panel, as appropriate for them. We’re looking forward to meeting a range of new people in the process, and hearing of ideas and ambitions which we hope to be able to support.

Information about the next round of awards will be released on 13 September, there will be an easy read of the callout, and aspiring applicants can also contact us with any access queries.