Unlimited 2014: artists launched!

After months of anticipation Unlimited launched our 2014 artists in Scotland on the 31st March 2014 at the CCA in Glasgow. In 2012, the Scottish work was so strong it really shifted perceptions in the country during that celebratory year, changing how disabled artists were viewed within the cultural sector, which has impacted strongly on how the 2014 Commonwealth year is being delivered. Unlimited may now be operating on a smaller scale, but there was a real sense at the launch that this time it is for real – is more grounded and sustainable. This time it has the potential to push the door so far open for disabled artists that it can’t ever be shut again.

Leonie Bell, Director of Arts and Engagement, Creative Scotland said : ‘Unlimited is one of these fundamental initiatives that has the ability to create real change in terms of artistic excellence, bring real equality, support value and needed diversity.  In its first phase Unlimited achieved something extraordinary, it contained partnerships that improved how we all work, a stage within London 2012 that enabled us to reach far and wide and artists, ideas and work that quite simply took our breath away time and time again.’

The Scottish artists selected in 2014 are different from those selected in 2012 – the focus has shifted from being about performance to a wider range of art forms including the visual arts, music and film-making. Have a look at the selection here.

There was a real buzz at the launch surrounding some of the selected works. Wendy Hoose, a sex-comedy by theatre companies Birds Of Paradise and Random Accomplice have created a provocative and thought provoking show that breaks many barriers around sex, access and the way disabled people are seen. Unlimited are extremely proud to be making this stunning tour happen again, enabling more people to see not only the show itself but how access can be creatively woven into the aesthetic of a piece.

Simon Fildes too has attracted interest. Simon is a well-established artist who has worked extensively internationally. In 2009, he gained an impairment and through Unlimited will be able to research new ways of working. For us, this illustrates Unlimited’s breadth – its not simply about supporting a narrow clique of ‘known’ disabled artists, but instead is about widening the field- attracting new artists and giving them avenues to express themselves in myriad ways.

At the launch, Jo Verrent, Senior Producer of Unlimited spoke about the programme has having encouraged a new range of artists who now see Unlimited as ‘for them’ and the impact this will have on the work. Ultimately it means greater diversity, greater debate and ultimately greater quality. It’s easy to forget that Unlimited is not simply about a festival – but its not, it’s about the work. It’s about audiences getting to see that work from all over the UK and beyond. Scotland is really important for Unlimited – such great work happens here, and in England too. We need to get that work crossing the border both ways, and through Unlimited we can do that.

After the excitement of the launch died down, the real work began! The team have now started working with the artists to see what they really need to take the work to the next level. That might be contacts for promotion, setting up mentoring, helping with any artistic or organisational aspects of their practice or marketing to truly do justice to the work.

On the surface Unlimited might be seen as just another funding opportunity, but it’s so much more than the money. It’s about the team and the support they can provide. And it’s a team that isn’t afraid of hard work, which is good because there is a lot of hard work to do!