What is the future for disabled artists? Unlimited 2018 starts in September – experience it live or online!
A panel discussion led by the Unlimited commissions team at Watershed earlier this year. Photo: Jon Aitken
Unlimited returns this autumn– bringing you the chance to experience extraordinary disabled artists at festivals in London and Glasgow, and two days of lively debate online.
From 5–9 September, the Southbank Centre’s Unlimited festival presents a packed programme of work by d/Deaf and disabled artists including free events, relaxed performances and performance integrated with sign language.
But first, there’s a symposium from 4–5 September at the Unicorn Theatre exploring what disability-led arts could look like in 2020. The Unlimited commissions team invites you to join the discussion online, wherever you are. The entire event will be live streamed for national and international audiences. There will be opportunities to contribute to the conversation for those who aren’t in the room.
Once again, the British Council is bringing over 100 international delegates to these events for a special programme. “We want to help international producers build links with UK talent,” says Neil Webb, our Director Theatre and Dance. “Disabled-led art in the UK is going from strength to strength. Working with international colleagues, we can inspire audiences, celebrate difference and push for more equality in our societies.”
The Unlimited Symposium aims brings together artists, practitioners and organisations across all artforms to be part of an ongoing conversation around disability arts. The team has taken an inclusive approach to curating the conversation, running a social media campaign to ask its audiences what they want to discuss. The final crowdsourced themes are:
- Art: How can disabled artists change the ‘mainstream’ arts sector?
- Equality: Disability, intersectional identities and the arts
- Attitude: Why is it taking so long? Can we speed up change? Will we ever get there?
- Future: Does new technology enable or create more barriers?
"Working with international colleagues, we can inspire audiences, celebrate difference and push for more equality in our societies"
Jess Thom AKA Touretteshero in Not I by Samuel Beckett. Photo: James Lyndsay
At the Southbank Centre, audiences can see a wide range of work. There’s a long-term collaboration between playwright Kaite O’Reilly and artists in Singapore, exploring difference, disability and what it means to be human in And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore/UK ‘d’ Monologues. Plus an Afro-futurist performance party of intersectional identities in Brownton Abbey Bless Bar. Meanwhile, Jo Bannon performs her latest piece We Are F*cked which explores desire, sexuality and neoliberalism.
Jess Thom, otherwise known as Touretteshero, returns with her take on Samuel Beckett’s seminal Not I, in which she explores neurodiversity and asks important questions about the accessibility of art. Laurence Clark presents his new stand-up comedy show about what it’s like to be a disabled parent in An Irresponsible Father’s Guide to Parenting. Choreographers Aby Watson and Dan Daw share a double bill. Watson’s -ish uses movement, object and speech to explore dyspraxia, while Daw’s On One Condition reflects on his journey from growing up in rural Australia with cerebral palsy to an international dance career.
There’s more to come – later this autumn, as Tramway’s own Unlimited festival opens in Glasgow. The programme is yet to be announced, so keep an eye out for updates.
Most of the new work in the festivals has been created through the Unlimited commissioning programme led by Shape Arts and Artsadmin. The programme highlights work that doesn’t just feature disabled artists but is led by them. It’s the world’s biggest commissioning project for artists who identify as disabled. It aims to embed work by disabled artists within the UK and international cultural sectors, reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people.
The British Council has supported the commissioning programme since it began and we fund the current 2016–19 initiative alongside Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and Spirit of 2012.
> Watch a live stream of the symposium from 4–5 September
Find out more:
> Follow the Unlimited 2018 series over on our blog
> See the full Unlimited festival programme at the Southbank Centre
> Read a blog about the Equality section of Unlimited Symposium
> Catch up with news on a major new project with disabled artists, Europe Beyond Access
> Sign up to our newsletter to hear about bursaries for UK disabled artists to attend networking events