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Artists in the East Midlands welcome Unlimited

  • Date: 20 October 2009
  • Area: Midlands

Unlimited, the UK’s largest ever disability arts programme – set to transform the disability arts movement in the UK – has been launched by London 2012 as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and opens for artists’ entries today through

Unlimited is the result of a three-year consultation process across the disability, arts and disability sports sectors. Unlimited provides disabled and deaf artists in the East Midlands and across the country with an unparalleled opportunity to develop new work for the world stage.  It has received support from local actress and TV presenter Natasha Wood.

The total project fund of £3 million, provided principally by the Olympic Lottery Distributor, using National Lottery funds, with additional funding and delivery by Arts Council England, the British Council, the Scottish Arts Council, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and London 2012, will:

• enable talented disabled and deaf artists to create exciting, quality new work across all disciplines leading up to and including the Olympic and Paralympic Games with awards of £25-50,000 as part of Unlimited Commissions
• Unlimited Presents will bring new audiences to disability arts through major pieces of new work showcased at arts festivals, venues and London 2012 events, building up to and including the Games
• provide resources and training to foster young talent and develop skills across the sector through Unlimited Talent, forging new partnerships between disability and mainstream arts organisations
• Unlimited International will support collaboration between the artists in the UK and other countries, showcase new work around the world, and promote a global debate amongst young people about disability rights
• Unlimited will leave a lasting legacy of high quality new work, increased confidence and momentum in the sector

The £3 million fund is split into two sections, half in a commissioning fund of £1.5 million for new work which is believed to be the largest single investment in creative work by disabled artists. The second half of the programme will provide support to artists to develop their talent and skills and present their work to audiences in the UK and abroad. 

Actress and TV presenter Natasha Wood, who lives in Nottingham comments:

'Writing and performing is not only my passion but it has given me a whole new lease of life. As a disabled artist I'm delighted that Unlimited is being launched and thrilled about the opportunities it will give to new work, talent and partnerships but more importantly aid to prosper them both in the UK and globally. Unlimited is a unique and welcome opening for disabled artists. I'm very excited.'

Paul Brookes, London 2012 Creative Programmer for East Midlands said:

'London 2012 has stimulated new cultural work across the region, building on an existing wide range of talent and activity.  For example, Foot In Hand's ‘One Night Only’ was a ground breaking integrated dance commission, which premiered during the staging of the Special Olympics in Leicester in July and is now touring nationally. Unlimited will build on talent such as this and provide new and exciting opportunities to bring groups and artists together in a planned and beneficial manner.  It will raise greater awareness of disability arts in the East Midlands, and of work created here across the UK.'

Janet Paraskeva, Chair of the Olympic Lottery Distributor, said:

'London 2012 can bring opportunities to all of us and that is why the Olympic Lottery Distributor is investing National Lottery funds in disabled and deaf artists to enable them to work with mainstream organisations to bring their work to new audiences. The level of funding from The Olympic Lottery Distributor and all the contributing partners represents our commitment to the development of the disabled arts sector whose work can be a powerful catalyst for change in perception and understanding.'

Jenny Sealey, MBE, Artistic Director, Graeae Theatre Company and Artistic Advisor for Unlimited said:

'The disability arts community has been on tenterhooks waiting for Unlimited to be unleashed.  Disability arts and culture demonstrates artistic excellence crosses all boundaries and is a powerful agent for change.  It enables disabled people to strive for artistic expression, champion their own destiny and combat prejudice.  Unlimited is an opportunity like no other for an extraordinary programme of art, performance and spectacle – a chance to speak to the world about the quality of what we do.

I hope the future after Unlimited will be one of new audiences, new artistic partnerships and collaborations across the creative industry with talented disabled artists rightly given equal status and profile.'

Unlimited will encourage collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers, and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and produce work like never before.

Applications for the Commission strand are welcomed from disabled and deaf artists or disability arts groups wishing to create excellent work either on their own or in partnership with other disabled and non-disabled artists or groups. Further information on the application process can be found at

Tony Hall, Chair of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Board, said:

'In Beijing we became the first Organising Committee to have disabled artists in the handover ceremony for the Olympic Games and we will continue this commitment to showcasing excellence from disabled and nondisabled artists and arts organisations. 

The UK produces some of the best disability arts in the world and by using the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we can help the movement grow, foster young talent, enable collaboration between disabled and mainstream arts organisations and provide platforms to showcase excellence in the UK and around the world.  The legacy for Unlimited will not only be a range of high quality new work but far wider, new partnerships, new audiences and increased skills and greater understanding.'

Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee said:

'The Unlimited programme will without doubt contribute to the expansion of the Paralympic audience over the next three years in the United Kingdom with its theme of celebrating arts, culture and sport by people with a disability. The programme will create awareness in the community that will certainly yield more opportunities for future artists and athletes who will be inspired by the upcoming and much anticipated London 2012 Paralympic Games.'

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director, Arts Council England, London said:

'We're really pleased to be working with the other UK arts councils to deliver this ground-breaking project.

By investing in a number of talented disabled artists and producers, Unlimited Commissions will bring their work to more people, and crucially, develop stronger partnerships with some of our best venues and producers. In this way we hope to achieve a legacy of powerful new relationships, informed by excellent creative practice and shared ambitions.'

Images from the launch event are available on the Unlimited website.

Additional Information

For more information (media only) please contact:

William Kallaway, 020 7221 7883,
Emma Lawson, 020 7221 7883,

London 2012 Press Office
Paul Woodmansey, +44 (0)203 2012 100,

For further information please visit the website at

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