Unlimited 2021 presents an event on international art and activism, part of a digital festival of disabled-led arts
Visual artist Hana Madness (Indonesia) builds awareness of mental health issues and recently collaborated with UK artist The Vacuum Cleaner. She's one of the guest speakers at our talk on 15 January.
How can disabled artists help to make the world a better place? Join us on Friday 15 January at 14:30 (GMT) for ‘Unlimited Discusses… International Perspectives’, an online talk with international artists and producers. It’s part of Unlimited – the leading disability arts festival, which takes place online this year.
The discussion is partnered by the British Council and chaired by Neil Webb, our Director Theatre and Dance. ‘Over the past year, the global pandemic has aggravated existing inequalities and disabled people have faced particular challenges,’ he says.
‘Yet the British Council is proud to be part of a growing movement for change in international disability arts. As we begin 2021, we’re asking: how can we work with people around the world to build a more inclusive future? What can we do practically when travel and touring are hard? And how can disabled arts practitioners take a leading role?’
Hana Madness (Indonesia), Syrus Marcus Ware (Canada) and Chun-shan (Sandie) Yi (Taiwan/USA) join Webb to discuss disabled-led art and activism from an international perspective, sharing personal journeys, insights into their local arts scenes, and thoughts about the future.
Find out more on the Southbank Centre’s website.
'The global pandemic has aggravated existing inequalities and disabled people have faced particular challenges'
What's on at Unlimited 2021
This year's Unlimited festival – running from 13–17 January – is more accessible to global audiences than ever before, with almost all events online and available for free. The festival celebrates the artistic vision of disabled artists with dance, performance, comedy, film, talks, workshops and art. There are options for audiences either to watch events live or to watch on demand in their own time.
There’s a strong showing from artists who have worked internationally with the British Council, including:
Brownton Abbey presents B.A.S.T.: Gods in Lockdown, an Afro-futurist performance party sharing prophecies for the future.
Lucy Bennett choreographs and Sophie Fiennes directs Artificial Things, featuring an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled dancers and filmed in a derelict shopping mall.
Cheryl Martin, with One Woman, uses binaural sound to invite audiences to enter the mind of a woman living with mental illness.
Aidan Moesby’s I Was Naked, Smelling of Rain investigates weather and wellbeing at a critical time for climate change and mental health.
Joel Brown (Candoco Dance Company) and Eve Mutso (formerly Scottish Ballet) present 111, a powerful dance duet. 111 is the number of vertebrae the two dancers have between them.
Rhiannon Armstrong and Tim Spooner co-create a painting in real-time in The Microscope Sessions.
Bim Ajadi directs and Jonzi D writes Here/Not Here, a new hip hop film exploring British Sign Language, Krump street dance and football with a professional and non-professional, Deaf and hearing cast.
Unlimited 2021 is more accessible to global audiences than ever before, with almost all events online and available for free
13–17 January: Industry-only events. A series of events alongside the festival, open to Unlimited Allies in the UK and to international delegates.
14–16 January: Pitch and Mix. The festival programme includes pitches from disabled artists and disability-led organisations, inviting all audiences to find out about new ideas in development.
16–20 January: Meet the Artists. The British Council partners a series of conversations with Unlimited 2021 artists. The series enables international colleagues and partners in different time zones to engage with the artists after seeing their work.
How can I get involved?
International practitioners: If you’re a disability arts professional based outside the UK and you’d like to find out more about networking opportunities, email email@example.com.
Everyone else: If you're interested in meeting artists and joining conversations, check out the pitches, talks programme and post-event Q&As on the Southbank Centre’s website.
Syrus Marcus Ware (Canada) is an artist, scholar, community activist, researcher, youth advocate, educator and core member of Black Lives Matter Toronto. He's a guest speaker at our talk on 15 January.
What is Unlimited?
The Unlimited festival and the Unlimited commissions programme help to embed work by disabled artists, across all artforms, within the cultural sector. The initiatives aspire to reach new audiences and to change perceptions of disabled people.
The Unlimited festival, first held alongside the London 2012 Paralympic Games, is run by the Southbank Centre. It predominantly showcases work made through the Unlimited commissioning programme, which is delivered by Shape Arts (a disability-led arts organisation) and Artsadmin (a producing organisation).
The Unlimited commissions programme is the world’s largest commissioning programme for disability arts. Since 2013, it has awarded over £4 million to over 330 disabled artists and companies, whose work has reached more than 2.6 million people live and online.
As well as the British Council, Unlimited’s key partners include, or have included: Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, LOCOG and Spirit of 2012.
Chun-shan (Sandie) Yi is an artist and academic from Taiwan who took part in the Unlimited placement programme for international disabled arts professionals, supported by the British Council. She joins our talk as a guest speaker on 15 January.
How does the British Council work with Unlimited?
The British Council has partnered the Unlimited commissions programme since it began in 2008. We have supported two rounds of international commissions, our specialist staff take part in assessing applications, and we offer training and advice on working internationally to UK artists.
We fund a placement programme for disabled arts professionals from outside the UK to gain valuable experience working with the Unlimited team.
In previous years, we invited international delegates to attend the Unlimited festival and join special networking events. In 2021, due to travel restrictions, we’re partnering the online events detailed above.
We support projects developed with Unlimited artists and international delegates all over the world, including tours and training, government consultancy and new artistic collaborations.
Our partnerships have a transformational impact. For instance, our partners in Armenia and Bangladesh established the first performing arts companies in their countries to integrate disabled and non-disabled artists.
This work helps to place D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists at the centre of international conversations about a more inclusive and more equitable world.
We’re currently working with the Unlimited commissions programme to develop new opportunities for UK and international disability arts practitioners and organisations.
Find out more:
> Read an interview with our speaker Syrus Marcus Ware, Canadian artist and activist
> Watch a conversation (audio described) with speaker Chun-shan (Sandie) Yi, artist/academic from Taiwan
> Read a blog by speaker Hana Madness about her collaboration with UK artist The Vacuum Cleaner
> Discover disability arts resources with the British Council's Disability Arts International website
> Sign up to our newsletter for new opportunities for UK and international disability arts professionals