Put yourself forward

A large audience of people watching a show.
Southbank Centre's Unlimited festival. Image by Rachel Cherry for Unlimited.

We are getting close the deadline for applications for the Independent Selection Panel members for the next round of Unlimited commissions. Jo Verrent explores why you should consider applying…

When you see art that moves you, that takes your breath away, that just has that ‘magic’ that seems so hard to define, I bet the last thing you think about is how that work was funded, supported, made and developed. Not me – I’m the one straining to see the interpretation panel or grabbing the programme, trying to find out who were the partners, who funded the work, who made it happen.

In the UK we have a complex ecosystem of funders, programmes, organisations, schemes, individuals and artists who knit together to get stuff done. There has been much concern in recent years that funded work comes from a relatively narrow group of artists, making work for a relatively narrow audience. It’s time to really open this up; the more diverse the people involved in all the above, the wider the range of voices represented and, ultimately, the better the end results.

And by diverse, I mean in all senses. Yes, in relation to the good old ‘legally protected characteristics’ sense – gender (identity), race, faith, disability, sexuality, age, pregnancy/maternity, marriage/civil partnership – but also much wider. Diversity in artform, experience, geography, politics, class, knowledge of scale and practice; in where and how people work, in whether people see themselves as existing ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ the cultural sector as it stands at the moment.

As Sun Tzu said, in The Art of War: “There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.  There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.”  It’s in our combinations, not simply our narrow, box-ticked identities, that the most interesting conversations can be had and the best decisions made.

To choose the works that Unlimited will be supporting this round, we will have three different selection panels, and are recruiting 5 new independent people to each panel meaning we need 15 new people to step up to take these roles. If the future of disabled-led artwork matters to you, then perhaps it’s time to throw your hat into the ring; in fact, let me write that again – if the future of the arts matters to you, then perhaps it’s time to throw your hat into the ring. Work by disabled artists can’t be reduced in any way to a single genre or formula and we hope the sheer range of work that Unlimited has funded to date is indicative of that.

It’s not a huge time commitment – longlisting Expression of Interest applications and most of the assessment of full applications is done online with a one day panel meeting in March to make final decisions. Those working as freelance practitioners are recompensed. All travel and access is provided.

Why not read through the recruitment information and see if you could be part of it all?