Delivery partners for Unlimited announced (October 2013)

Applications to this fund are now closed and Shape and Artsadmin have been awarded £1.5m to act as national delivery partners for the Unlimited commissioned grant programme. Visit the Unlimited website to find out what they have been up to.

The Arts Council will invest in Shape, the disability-led arts organisation, and arts producing organisation Artsadmin to support Deaf and disabled artists through a programme of commissions and run a complementary mentoring programme between 2013 and 2016.

The programme will support Deaf and disabled artists to develop ambitious and high quality work, which will help them to develop their practice. It will also help to develop new relationships and collaborations with producers, venues and promoters, increase distribution of the work (through touring, including international touring, and digital means), and afford greater opportunities for audiences to see the work.

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About the partners

Shape is a disability-led arts organisation working to improve access to culture for disabled people. Shape develops opportunities for disabled artists, they train cultural institutions to be more open to disabled people, and run participatory arts and development programmes.

Artsadmin is an arts lab for the 21st Century, supporting the creation of new performance, site-specific and interdisciplinary work by the most talented and innovative artists through mentoring, development and producing support.


Between 2009 and 2012, the UK Arts Councils and the British Council commissioned 29 ambitious pieces of work by Deaf and disabled artists to help celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. All of the commissions were included in the finale of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad - a 12-week cultural celebration across the whole of the UK. This once-in-a-lifetime festival brought together leading artists from all over the world.

The Unlimited programme has generated a substantial amount of interest nationally and internationally among Deaf and disabled artists, arts commentators, funders and human-rights supporters.

Aims and outcomes

The Unlimited commissioned grant capitalises on the Unlimited brand to run a further programme of commissions and mentoring from 2013-16. 

The main outcomes of this programme are:

  • a transparent commissioning process aimed at established artists (ie artists with a demonstrable track record. The commissioning programme is NOT aimed at emerging artists, or artists and organisations whose remit is primarily social)
  • a commissioning process which responds to the needs of Deaf and disabled artists, including those with learning disabilities
  • a commissioning process which allows for experimentation and innovation
  • a commissioning process which is sensitive to individual pace and will enhance the skills necessary to create excellent art from a variety of starting points
  • the realisation of a body of work suitable for professional presentation
  • proactive co-operation with Southbank Centre on the curation and programming of an Unlimited Festival in 2014 and 2016
  • proactive co-operation with the British Council on the presentation of work internationally and at its international showcase in 2015
  • an effective mentoring programme for Deaf and disabled artists - primarily those successfully awarded a commission, but also extended to emerging artists with exceptional promise
  • liaison with and full reporting to financial partners in the programme, for example Creative Scotland
  • all reasonable co-operation with Arts Council England and relevant partners to increased interest in and engagement with the work of Deaf and disabled artists as standard practice on the part of venues, promoters and programmers
  • A demonstrable increase in the numbers and diversity of audiences for work by Deaf and disabled artists

Amount of funding

The Unlimited commissioned grant programme is benefiting from £1.5 million investment of Lottery funding.

Delivery timetable

All activity from the programme will be completed by the end of October 2016.