In 2016 an Arts Council England’s Ambitions of Excellence award of £759,949, match funded by the British Council and Arts Council Wales, enabled Unlimited to extend global influence principally through co-commissions with non-UK based disabled artists running through until March 2019. What did it achieve?
- Five major international co-commissions linking disabled artists in the UK with their counterparts overseas
- Alegria Samba School – The New Carnival Company (VIVA Carnival) with Embaixadores da Alegria, Brazil
- Antardrishti – Inner Vision – Baluji Shrivastav with Shri Ramana Maharishi Academy / Andh Apang Manav Kalyan, India
- It was Paradise – Rachel Gadsden with Ali Said and other disabled artists, Palestine
- And Suddenly I Disappeared – Kaite O’Reilly with Peter Sau, Singapore
- Voice of the Unicorn – Richard Butchins with Atelier Corners & Kazuyo Morita, Japan
- Four international works by non-UK based disabled artists touring into the UK – Billy Saga from Brazil, Nama Āto, an exhibition of three Japanese Outsider Artists from Atelier Corners, Justin Sight, a visually impaired magician from USA and Unfixed, a residency project on digital, disability and creativity led by the Australian Network for Art and Technology, Watershed, Bristol and Unlimited.
- Four international producer placements (Sokny Onn from Epic Arts in Cambodia, Fred Batale from Uganda, Nolan Stephens from South Africa and Sandie Yi from Chicago/Taiwan)
- 42% international attendance for Unlimited: The Symposium (110 international speakers/artists/attendees from 43 countries plus livestream of the event in Canada, Singapore and Australia
- Over 50 UK based disabled artist/producers supported to attend events/tour work overseas. In total 306 events (23% of the UL3 programme) have now been seen outside of the UK, viewed by 26,272 people, 8% of the total audience figures for the Programme during UL3.
- The stated cash match at application was raised – £138,000 – and we achieved an additional £177,750 making the total International programme budget just over one million pounds. An additional inkind contribution of £168,981 was been logged across all the programme elements.
- And an incredible reach into 141 different countries across the world
The creation of accessible resources was a key output.
“There is a large demand for social model/ disability arts resources and data. It helps back up for funders what we do in disability arts and its crucial need.”
- 9 case studies (PDF documents, word documents and Easy Read)
- Removing Barriers – a simple animation on the social model of disability (captioned and audio described versions) – over 2,799 views in its first year
- Cards for Inclusion – a card game, of which over 500 physical copies have been distributed, and which has had over 2,250 page views, with an average dwell time of 3:26 minutes. “We absolutely love Cards for Inclusion – and we discovered they can be applied in such diverse contexts. It has helped us think of ideas for our projects where the main barrier to access is language.”
Ruth Stevenson, Ruthless Research, undertook an independent evaluation finding:
- that international collaboration was at the heart of the programme and that Unlimited is uniquely in a position to both share ‘world leading’ knowledge and expertise with a global audience and ensure that UK-based disabled artists and producers can learn from other cultures and perspectives.
- UK disabled artists were producing ‘ground-breaking’ work which is disability-led, high in quality, includes blended access, and enables disabled people to tell their own stories in their own ways, meaning that international participants are being exposed to new ideas, methods and practice.
- Stakeholders felt that the collaborations are ‘natural’ and had ‘integrity’, hence participants reported learning a lot, growing in confidence, and feeling creatively inspired.
Impact and recommendations
There has been considerable impact on the Unlimited programme as a whole:
- Unlimited now has had some degree of direct contact in 141 countries across the globe
- 86% have of our awarded artists travel internationally within 18 months of gaining an Unlimited award
Unlimited has already undertaken a number of actions as a result of Unlimited International such as creating annual ‘packs’ for international ambassadors and working with British Council to continue to send UK disabled artists/producers to IETM and other events.
Unlimited International may be over, but we plan to continue international connections and global dissemination so still have more to do!