Unlimited announces ambitious new commissions from disabled artists

Surveillance culture, female sexuality and a duet between a human and a helium balloon. New work highlights the talent and diversity of today’s disabled artists


Unlimited, the largest supporter of disabled artists worldwide, has announced 24 commissions of ambitious new work by disabled artists. They encompass international collaborations, research and development awards, and new art by emerging artists.

The commissions include It Was Paradise, a multi-visual installation in which Rachel Gadsden and artists from Palestine bring attention to the voice of the disempowered. Billy Read (UK) and Ariel Ching-wai (Hong Kong) imagine a dystopian future with Deaf street dancers in which sign language users are placed under CCTV surveillance. Meanwhile, Jo Bannon explores female desire and neoliberalism in We are F**ked and Aby Watson creates a duet between a human and a helium balloon in One way or another.

"Unlimited is the largest supporter of disabled artists worldwide"

Unlimited is an arts commissioning programme that aims to embed work by disabled artists within the UK and international cultural sectors. “The response to Unlimited’s commissions call-out has been staggering," says Jo Verrent, Senior Producer at Unlimited. “The newly commissioned artists will be developing their works over the coming year and will be unveiled to the public across 2017 and 2018."

Funded by Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, the British Council and Spirit of 2012, and delivered by Shape Arts and Artsadmin, Unlimited has, since 2013, provided almost £1 million in commissions and mentoring support to 72 young and emerging disabled artists.

“Unlimited is without doubt one of the most significant developments in creating opportunities for disabled artists and companies to lead in the arts," states Ruth Gould MBE, Artistic Director at DaDaFest and Chair of the Unlimited main commissions panel.

The Southbank Centre in London has presented three festivals highlighting work created as part of Unlimited, and Tramway in Glasgow held its own festival in 2016.

"The works will be unveiled to the public across 2017 and 2018"

The British Paraorchestra perform Terry Rileys In C with Extraordinary BodiesThe British Paraorchestra. Photograph: Paul Blakemore

Two British Council specialists took part in this round of commissioning decisions: Neil Webb, our Director Theatre and Dance and Carole McFadden, our Theatre and Dance Programme Manager working with the Middle East, North Africa and East Asia.

As well as partnering the commissioning programme, the British Council works with international partners to raise the profile of arts led by Deaf and disabled people. This includes bringing international delegates to the Unlimited festivals, helping the UK artists to develop international strategies, and developing projects such as the first ever disability arts festival in Qatar.


Main Commissions
Jackie Hagan: Jumble Soul
Owen Lowery: Transitions
The British Paraorchestra: Velocity
Fittings Multimedia Arts: Vogue: The Unlimited House of Krip
Jo Bannon: We are F**ked
Kai Syng Tan: We sat on a mat and had a chat and made maps!

Research and Development Awards
Anna Berry: Breathing Sculptures
Rinkoo Barpaga: Bubble and Butch
Raquel Meseguer/Unchartered Collective: A Crash Course in Cloudspotting (the subversive act of horizontality)
Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings: River Runs Through
Chloë Clarke (Phillips): The Importance of Being Described...Earnestly?
Jack Dean: Jeremiah
Juliet Robson: HERTZ

Emerging Artists
Kristina Veasey: My Dirty Secret!
Thompson Hall and Ian Wornast: My Life in London
Aby Watson: One way or another
Delson Weekes: Pull up
Helen Hall: Reflective Moves

International Collaborations (research and development)
VIVA Carnival & Embaixadores Da Alegria (UK) and Alegria Samba School (Brazil)
Baluji Shrivastav OBE and Shri Ramana Maharishi Academy (UK) and Antardrishti - Inner Vision (India)
Rachel Gadsden (UK) and Ali Saied (Palestine): It was Paradise
Kaite O’Reilly (UK) and Peter Sau (Singapore): The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues
Billy Read (UK) & Ariel Ching-wai (Hong Kong): Somebody’s Watching Me
Richard Butchins (UK) with Atelier Corners and Kazuyo Morita (Japan): The Voice of the Unicorn


Find out more: 

See more information about the commissions on the Unlimited website

Catch up on our coverage celebrating Unlimited Festivals 2017 and exploring issues in disability arts 

Check out films and artist profiles on the Disability Arts International website

« All projects

Jump to:



Sign up to our newsletter