- 19 new artistic commissions are awarded a total of £660,413 in funding
- The Awards are made possible by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and 13 partner organisations from across the UK
- The International Awards are supported by the British Council
Unlimited’s biannual Partner Awards give disabled artists an opportunity to create extraordinary new work. In 2022, artists applied for awards worth between £15,000 and £60,000.
The 2023 recipients of the International Partner Awards are:
- Zimbabwe/England - Karina Jones, Amy Nicholls and Tamba Africa Social Circus
- Brazil/England - Kristina Veasey and Alejandro Ahmed
- South Africa/England - Naeem Dxvis and Jude Daya
- South Africa/England - Andrea Mindel and Dean Hutton
- Brazil/Wales - Chris Tally Evans and Dança sem Fronteiras
- China/England - Spectroscope (Cathy Mager) and Hu Xiaoshu
- Indonesia/Wales - Andrew Bolton and Jogja Disability Arts
- Mexico/Scotland - Emily Beaney and Ana García Jácome;
The 2023 recipients of UK Partner Awards are Jo Bannon (Wellcome Collection), Popty Ping Productions (Span Arts), Chisato Minamimura (Southbank Centre), Elle Chante (Sage Gateshead), Lloyd Coleman (Polka Theatre), Krystal S. Lowe (National Theatre Wales), Babeworld (The Art House, Wakefield and LEVEL Centre), EM Williams (Homotopia and Marlborough Productions with support from Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse), Jack Hunter and Imogen Reiter (Eden Court, Inverness), Tom Marshman (Bristol Ideas) and David Gordon McNeish (An Tobar and Mull Theatre).
The projects funded include a theatre project exploring disabled LGBTQ+ experience in the Highlands of Scotland, a one-woman dance show inspired by Black hair culture, an immersive forest experience created in Brazil and the UK, and a circus performance devised by artists in the UK and Zimbabwe.
The awards were launched in July 2022 by Unlimited, the world’s largest disabled arts commissioner. This initiative is part of Unlimited’s remit to dismantle barriers faced by disabled artists. Founded as a project in 2013, it became an independent organisation in April 2022.
The commissions are funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and 13 partner organisations. The British Council contributed £280,000 towards seven international awards.
Neil Webb, Director of Theatre and Dance at the British Council, said, ‘We are delighted to be partnering with Unlimited again on this latest round of International Awards. Finding new ways of connecting with and understanding each other through the arts is at the very heart of the British Council’s cultural relations work and I’m excited to see such an incredibly diverse range of projects and collaborators from across the globe.’
While the partners originally supported the awards with £584,000 in funding, the total amount available rose to £660,413 after the applications were assessed.
Isabella Tulloch Gallego, Programme Manager at Unlimited, said, ‘Along with our UK and international partners, we are thrilled to announce this year’s cohort of commissioned artists; our first cohort as an independent organisation. These commissions represent such an exciting range of talent and ambition. We are proud to celebrate the diverse range of perspectives and experiences encapsulated in these awards. We look forward to supporting these artists and companies in creating meaningful and impactful work that engages audiences and pushes boundaries.’
Partners based in England are Polka Theatre; Sage Gateshead; Wellcome Collection; Homotopia and Marlborough Productions; The Art House, Wakefield and LEVEL Centre; the Southbank Centre and Bristol Ideas. In Wales: National Theatre Wales and Span Arts; and in Scotland: Eden Court, Inverness and An Tobar and Mull Theatre.
UK Partner Awards selection panellist MJ Ajayi said, ‘The new Unlimited commissioning process has been really great to witness and be a part of. Each year it gets harder as the quality of the work we’re reviewing gets higher and this year was definitely the hardest for me. When I was a trainee in 2019, Unlimited only had a few partners for their partnership awards and now they have 11! It’s amazing to see the growth of Unlimited and the changes they’re still enacting in the sector.’
Unlimited is an arts commissioning body that supports, funds and promotes new work by disabled artists for UK and international audiences. Our mission is to commission extraordinary work from disabled artists that will change and challenge the world. Unlimited is funded by Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and British Council. Since 2013, Unlimited has supported over 499 artists with over £5.7 million, reaching audiences of over 5.5 million, making it the largest supporter of disabled artists world-wide.
1. An Tobar and Mull Theatre is a multi-artform creative hub on the Hebridean island of Mull. We commission, create and tour theatre, music and visual arts across Scotland and internationally. The work we make is shaped by the unique context of our island location and we prioritise projects that speak to the lived experience of our local audiences.
2. The Art House, Wakefield and LEVEL Centre
The Art House was founded and grounded in breaking barriers for those that need it. It supports the development of residencies, exhibitions, and projects with a strong focus on artists at the early-mid stages, or following career breaks, who often face barriers in life, with lived experiences of living in the margins or who have been traditionally underrepresented.
LEVEL Centre celebrates the art that ‘difference’ makes, producing and promoting high quality contemporary work that is powerful and relevant. They are pioneers in accessible digital practice and work with inspiring disabled creatives in visual, digital and performing arts from across the UK to support the creation of ground-breaking work.
3. Bristol Ideas is a leading organisation for public debate and learning, bringing together arts and sciences to explore the key issues of our time.
4. British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. They support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. They do this through their work in arts and culture, education and the English language. They work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021-22 they reached 650 million people.
5. Eden Court is proud to be Scotland’s largest combined arts organisation. Eden Court present and make work with, by and for the people of the Highlands and Islands and those who visit.
6. Homotopia and Marlborough Productions with support from Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse
Homotopia is a Liverpool-based arts and social justice organisation making a cultural impact through art and activism. Their aim is to support and platform local, national, and international LGBTQIA socially engaged artists and creatives.
Marlborough Productions is a catalyst for queer culture and community. Marlborough Productions are a leading UK producer of queer-led, intersectional performance, parties, heritage and radical community gatherings.
7. National Theatre Wales collaborate with people and places to make powerful, brave theatre inspired by the experiences and stories of Wales. Since their inception as Wales’ English language theatre company, they have been bringing people together to reimagine and push the boundaries of what theatre can and should be.
8. Polka Theatre empower children to navigate their world through inspirational theatre and creative experiences. Polka theatre have reimagined what a dedicated children’s theatre could and should be for young audiences and their families.
9. Sage Gateshead is an international music centre, deeply rooted in the North-East of England. They integrate classical and contemporary performance programmes, creative learning, and artist development with world-class facilities. They bring high-quality music to people’s doorsteps, inspiring local musicians. Through music they improve lives – socially, economically, educationally and in terms of health and wellbeing. They are for artists, for audiences, for the North-East and for the long term.
10. SPAN is a vibrant community arts charity based in Narberth, with a 30-year history of bringing the arts to rural Pembrokeshire. SPAN is driven by the core belief that the arts have the power to improve people’s lives and acts as an agent for Arts as Social Change in West Wales. SPAN are ambitious for the arts in Pembrokeshire to inspire and connect rural people, places and communities creatively.
11. Southbank Centre are the largest arts centre in the UK and one of the nation's top visitor attractions. They seek out the world’s most exciting artists, from household names to fresh new talent, and give them space to showcase their best work.
12. Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we all think and feel about health. Through exhibitions, collections, live programming, digital, broadcast and publishing, they create opportunities for people to think deeply about the connections between science, medicine, life and art. They are part of Wellcome, which supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone. Wellcome supports discovery research into life, health and wellbeing, and is taking on three worldwide health challenges: mental health, infectious disease and climate.
Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. They have set out their strategic vision in Let’s Create: by 2030 they want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. They invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk
Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. They are also one of the bodies responsible for administering the Government’s unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund. Find out more at www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19
The Arts Council of Wales is the country’s official public body for funding and developing the arts. Every day, people across Wales are enjoying and taking part in the arts. The Arts Council of Wales helps to support and grow this activity. They do this by using the public funds that are made available to them by the Welsh Government and by distributing the money they receive as a good cause from the National Lottery.
By managing and investing these funds in creative activity, the Arts Council contributes to people’s quality of life and to the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of Wales.
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland, distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at creativescotland.com. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at www.ourcreativevoice.scot