This year Southbank Centre's Unlimited festival – running from 13–17 January – is more accessible to global audiences than ever before, with almost all events online and available for free. The festival celebrates the artistic vision of disabled artists with dance, performance, comedy, film, talks, workshops and art. There are options for audiences either to watch events live or to watch on demand in their own time.
Unlimited 2021 is more accessible to global audiences than ever before, with almost all events online and available for free
Unlimited 2021 programme schedule
Join us on Friday 15 January at 14:30 (GMT) for ‘Unlimited Discusses… International Perspectives’, an online talk with international artists and producers including Hana Madness (Indonesia), Syrus Marcus Ware (Canada) and Chun-shan (Sandie) Yi (Taiwan/USA). The discussion is partnered by the British Council and chaired by Neil Webb, the Director Theatre and Dance. As we begin 2021, we’re asking: how can we work with people around the world to build a more inclusive future? What can we do practically when travel and touring are hard? And how can disabled arts practitioners take a leading role?’
Find out more on the Southbank Centre’s website.
- January 16 (free) Second Hand Dance presents the world premiere of Insect Hands, a new work for ages 4-7 invites audiences to look a little more closely at the world around them.
- January 13-17 (free) The Origin of Carmen Power, a new interactive, online storytelling experience created by an eleven-year-old girl, created for 7-13 year-olds with support from innovative theatre-maker Toby Peach who experienced cancer as a teenager himself.
- January 15-17 (free) Instagramming the Apocalypse, the first ever screening of this popular stage show by Byron Vincent. The work is accompanied by a Q&A and DJ set.
- January 13-17 (free) 111, a broadcast of the critically acclaimed powerful dance duet 111 featuring Joel Brown (Candoco Dance Company) and Eve Mutso (formed Principal Dancer of Scottish Ballet) as they explore their different strengths and vulnerabilities. 111 is the number of vertebrae Joel and Eve say they have between them.
- January 15-17 (free) Artificial Things, filmed on location in a derelict suburban shopping mall, featuring an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled dancers, the film explores human interdependence, strength, and vulnerability.
- January 17 (free) Saturn Returns, Sonny Nwachukwu gives an interactive insight into his choreopoem in Saturn Returns, a live dance and spoken word performance which explores the psychospiritual clashes produced in Black people by the weight of history.
- January 14-17 (free) Here / Not Here, a free A new hip-hop film exploring British Sign Language, Krump street dance, football, and Visual Vernacular; the choreographed and poetic form of sign language directed by award-winning film-maker and Deaf artist Bim Ajadi, written by Jonzi D, Artist Director of Breakin’ Convention.
Online exhibition and multimedia performance
- January 13-17 (free) Reasonable Adjustment – The Disabled Armed Resistance Movement, an online exhibition created by shortlisted BAFTA award film-maker
- January 17-19 (free) Within Sight, multimedia performance Within Sight is a filmed version of Ellen Renton’s debut solo show based on her experience of living with albinism.
- January 15 (free) The Microscope Sessions, the Microscope Sessions invites a live audience to witness a painting emerge through an evolving game of consequences, cross-pollination, and contamination by artists Rhiannon Armstrong and Tim Spooner, who co-create a painting in real-time.
- January 14-16 (free) I Was Naked, Smelling of Rain, a performance by Aidan Moesby exploring wellbeing and weather.
- January 14-16 (free) One Woman, a broadcast performance by theatre artist Cheryl Martin invites audiences to enter the mind of a woman living with mental illness through binaural sound. This event includes an introductory talk and a Q&A.
- January 13-15 (free) Augmented, one-person show Augmented, written and performed by Sophie Woolley and presented as a streamed film, shares the joys and conflict of being welcomed back into the hearing world after losing her hearing in her twenties.
- January 16-19 (free) Gods of Lockdown, Brownton Abbey Service Transmission (B.A.S.T) is an Afro-futurist performance party.
Live performance and comedy
- January 16 (free) GLOOPTOPIA with NewfrontEars!, autistic green drag queen Ooozing Gloop presents a one-off adaptation of GLOOPTOPIA with NewfrontEars!, a live exploration into cultural stagnation of political hope.
- January 14-17 (free) A Crash Course in Cloudspotting is a theatrical invitation to pause, to rest, to listen. The experience is conceived as a break from the screen, and invitation to connect with a small audience of 21.
- January 17, tickets £5-10 Abnormally funny people will perform live via Zoom. Featuring stand-up comedy, sketches, songs, a quiz show, celebrity cameos, and more.
- January 17 (free) Lesbian Pirates: Bringing History to Life, online theatrical workshop Lesbian Pirates: Bringing History to Life uses writing exercises, group work, and prompts to explore how to create a dramatic narrative around the audience members’ favourite historical icon.
- January 16 (free) Colour Full at Home is a sensory, hands-on workshop led by JoAnne Haines for learning disabled adults bringing together dance, movement, and music with art materials to make art using the whole body.
- January 16 (free) DYSCO is a neurodivergent-led space with live dancing and music with no teacher to follow. DJ DYSCOURSE (dance artist Aby Watson) leads a virtual, intergenerational, and celebratory dance party.
- January 13–17 : Industry-only events. A series of events alongside the festival, open to Unlimited Allies in the UK and to international delegates.
- January 14–16: Pitch and Mix. The festival programme includes pitches from disabled artists and disability-led organisations, inviting all audiences to find out about new ideas in development.
- January 16–20: Meet the Artists. The British Council partners a series of conversations with Unlimited 2021 artists. The series enables international colleagues and partners in different time zones to engage with the artists after seeing their work.
How can I get involved?
- International practitioners: If you’re a disability arts professional based outside the UK and you’d like to find out more about networking opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Everyone else: If you're interested in meeting artists and joining conversations, check out the pitches, talks programme and post-event Q&As on the Southbank Centre’s website.
What is Unlimited?
The Unlimited festival and the Unlimited commissions programme help to embed work by disabled artists, across all artforms, within the cultural sector. The initiatives aspire to reach new audiences and to change perceptions of disabled people.
The Unlimited festival, first held alongside the London 2012 Paralympic Games, is run by the Southbank Centre. It predominantly showcases work made through the Unlimited commissioning programme, which is delivered by Shape Arts (a disability-led arts organisation) and Artsadmin (a producing organisation).
The Unlimited commissions programme is the world’s largest commissioning programme for disability arts. Since 2013, it has awarded over £4 million to over 330 disabled artists and companies, whose work has reached more than 2.6 million people live and online.
As well as the British Council, Unlimited’s key partners include, or have included: Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, LOCOG and Spirit of 2012.
How does the British Council work with Unlimited?
The British Council has partnered the Unlimited commissions programme since it began in 2008 and has supported two rounds of international commissions, and offers training and advice on working internationally to UK artists.
British Council funds a placement programme for disabled arts professionals from outside the UK to gain valuable experience working with the Unlimited team. In previous years, international delegates have been invited to attend the Unlimited festival and join special networking events. In 2021, due to travel restrictions, the online events detailed above are replacing these in-person delegations. Projects are supported and developed with Unlimited artists and international delegates all over the world, including tours and training, government consultancy and new artistic collaborations.
Check out the British Council Theatre and Dance blog post 'Join our talk to explore how disabled artists can lead change' for more information.