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19 March 2010

black and white photo of dancers

Unlimited- Candoco Dance Company - Candoco Unlimited. Pictures taken by Andrew Baker © London 2012

London 2012 and Arts Council England have announced that over £400,000 of funding has been awarded to 10 commissions for Unlimited, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad project. Unlimited will celebrate disability, arts, culture and sport and aims to transform the disability arts movement in the UK.

Unlimited encourages 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.

The winning commissions are: 


Candoco Dance Company - Candoco Unlimited
Candoco Dance Company performed in the handover ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games – the first time disabled performers have appeared in both events.

Candoco Unlimited will showcase some of the leading disabled artists working in contemporary dance today. Candoco will engage two disabled choreographers to each make a large scale dance piece for disabled and non-disabled dancers, including those from Beijing and Rio de Janeiro to link the past, current and future Olympic host nations. This will result in two inclusive dance pieces that will be performed at a range of festivals and events leading up to 2012.

photo of performer on a tight rope against a backdrop of the sky

Unlimited: Graeae Theatre Company - The Garden. Pictures taken by Andrew Baker © London 2012

Graeae Theatre Company – The Garden
Graeae take inspiration from Blake’s poem Jerusalem for The Garden. The work will explore ‘England’s green and pleasant land’. It is the first of three Graeae / Greenwich + Docklands International Festival (GDIF) co-productions aimed at building the pool of disabled sway pole & street art performers in the UK.

The work will developed in partnership with Strange Fruit and features a deaf and disabled artistic team and a new ensemble of deaf and disabled sway pole/street art performers. The Garden will make its premiere at GDIF in June 2010.


Maurice Orr - The Screaming Silence of the Wind
Visual artist Maurice Orr will create four sensory installation pieces inspired by the raw, barren landscapes of his native Northern Ireland. Through sound, paint and natural materials such as fish leather, the piece will evoke a holistic feeling of place. Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to touch the surfaces, look at the landscapes and listen to the sounds that have inspired him.

photo of male performer with streak across his face

Unlimited-Fittings Multimedia Arts - The Ugly Spirit. Pictures taken by Andrew Baker © London 2012


Fittings Multimedia Arts - The Ugly Spirit
Using the fascinating lives of lives of conjoined Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker as inspiration and metaphor, The Ugly Spirit will explore the conflicting notions that lie within us in a challenging and critically engaging performance piece.

Developed in partnership with David Hoyle, Tanya Raabe and Gary Robson, [Fittings]( will work with disabled and non-disabled young people from the North West to explore issues of identity. The resulting piece will tour a variety of mainstream venues and unusual settings around the country.


Janice Parker - Private Dancer 
Private Dancer is an artistically ambitious large-scale performance event by professional and emergent disabled dancers. Performed in and around a real sized luminous ‘house’, purpose built with a series of individual rooms, each solo dancer invites audience members to enter their private performance domain.

As well as the individual pieces, Janice Parker’s hour-long performance will include disabled and non-disabled dancers performing throughout the structure encouraging audiences to walk and move around the house.

Ramesh Meyyappan - Snails and Ketchup
Snails and Ketchup explores the turbulent relationships that prevail within dysfunctional families, inspired by Italo Calvino’s ‘Baron in the Trees’. This darkly comic tale poignantly highlights that despite familial love being unconditional, it is not always possible to exist within the same environment as those we hold dear.

The plight of the family members will be revealed in a solo performance that allows Ramesh to explore several character transitions using an eclectic range of physical / visual styles including: sign mime, movement, aerial and stilt work, bold storytelling and strong characterization.


Chris Tally Evans - Personal Best: Turning Points
Personal Best will be a nationwide community storytelling project focusing on those turning points in our lives when we realise what we can become – unique. The resulting tales of hard-won battles and personal triumphs will become a life-affirming online resource and audio soundscape, which can be downloaded or broadcast in a variety of public spaces across the UK. This will ultimately lead to a touring installation and series of interactive workshops for young people exploring the theme of inspiration, role models and turning points in people’s lives.

The Llanarth Group - The d Monologues
The ‘d’ Monologues will be a dramatic collection of monologues for Deaf and disabled performers, inspired by the stories and experiences of disabled and Deaf individuals across the whole of the UK.

The Llanarth Group hope to produce a body of work that will address the dearth of pieces written from a disability perspective, and parts written for disabled performers. The ‘d’ Monologues will be performed in venues in Wales and across the UK.


Irresistible – Jez Colborne with Mind the Gap
Irresistible will be a ‘siren symphony’! Noisy and spectacular, it will be a live performance combining warning sirens and choral music with projections on walls and rocks and dramatic lighting. Developed by learning disabled musician and performer Jez Colborne, with support from Mind the Gap, Irresistible will be presented in a variety of urban and rural outdoor spaces such as Bradford City Centre and Ilkley Moor.

Stumble danceCircus - Bipolar Ringmaster (without a Circus)
Bipolar Ringmaster will be a one-man show performed by actor Eric MacLennan demonstrating the wild extremes experienced with bipolar disorder and enjoyed in circus. The piece plays with the audience’s perceptions and expectations of mental ill health and performance, blurring the lines between colourful character and delusional insanity, grand achievement or endless obsession. The piece will incorporate a short film of new circus choreography, and will be flexible in performance both for theatre or non-art settings.


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

Unlimited Talent will provide resources and training to foster young talent and develop skills across the sector.

Unlimited International aims to 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.

Applications for the second round of commissions are now welcomed from disabled and deaf artists or disability arts groups wishing to create high quality work to form part of high profile showcase events across the UK.

Further information on the application process can be found at


liz porter

26 March 2010

Urm... Well I'm pleased to see storytelling featuring in the Unlimited awards, Chris Tally Evans Project Personal Best - turning points, sounds really interesting, something I'd love to get involved with if it were possible. I'm not surprised to see GRAEAE in the list too, if GRAEAE's 'Against the tide' is anything to go by I'm sure we're in for a treat. There does seem to be allot of well established companies in this list, urm..interesting....

However and it is a very very big however,.. I am somewhat disappointed that there are no Unlimited commissions in the South East region. I'd ask Why. Why? Doesn't make sense to me. Stoke Mandaville is the birth place of the Paralympics, surely we should have had a UNLIMITED commission in this part of the Region?. I don't understand how this has happened. I know of at least one incredible visual artist whoes done loads of work with Creative Bucks whoes work is outstanding and would have been excellent and should be part of these commissions (in my view).

I'm a performance artist myself, so you might think I'd be pleased to see performing arts represented so highly, well I'm not sure, I don't think the list fairly represents all artforms. Also I'm genuinely surprised. I must have misunderstood the application criteria because I thought you couldn't go for a project if it involved some form of research and development, surely some of the above list will involve quite allot of this? Have I missed something. I'd be very interested to find out how the performance companies got round this.

I just feel there isn't a wide enough cross artform representation within this list of 10. urm......What do you think?

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