Earlier this year, my co-founder Clare left the company and we began to reimagine what the artistic leadership of Unlimited could become. And I can’t lie that, given we began 23 years ago as a founder led company of six artists, this was A Big Deal – it would be the first time we’d invited anyone who wasn’t a founder to share the responsibility of creating a vision and a programme of work for the company.
To begin with, we imagined simply filling the gap that Clare had left – a new Co Artistic Director who would work part time to create and lead on new projects. And this is the role we originally advertised for with 51 people applying – meaning that my original ambition to meet with everyone who applied was simply unrealistic. So we applied some filters to help us make choices (prioritising applicants with a clearer, existing crossover with our themes and modes of work; with limited experience of working in a company environment; who we believe would experience the most significant positive impact at this stage of their career by working with us) and long listed to 24 people, all of whom I met.
Those meetings were deeply instructive and inspiring and made me think again about how we can have the greatest positive impact for the applying artists. What came through most clearly for me was the resonance I felt with artists already running their own companies, who are extremely committed to continuing to do so and how hard those artists were finding it to take their companies to the next stage of development – particularly in the current climate.
And so we’ve chosen to develop the original offer in response to these conversations. Instead of one, new Co-Artistic Director we’ve created new roles for five artists who we have invited to join the company.
Going forward we will have no Artistic Director but instead a core of six artists, including me. Each artist will lead on the development of a new project for Unlimited that, collectively, forms the company’s vision and programme going forward.
I could not be more proud and excited to welcome:
Rachael Abbey Co-Artistic Director of The Roaring Girls
Jamie Fletcher Artistic Director at Jamie Fletcher & Company
Tyrrell Jones Artistic Director at Knaive Theatre
Ali Pidsley Co-Company Director at Barrel Organ
Lauren Nicole Whitter Artistic Director of Anansi Theatre Company
All of them are brilliant and share Unlimited’s ambition to help change the world for the better.
Each of our new Core Artists remain fully committed to their own company that they founded. Recognising the crucial stage of development those companies are at, Unlimited’s existing staff and trustees will support the artists with dedicated, tailored training and mentoring in Leadership, “Artistic Direction,” Company Management and whatever else we (together) identify as most useful – supporting each artist’s professional development and the long term sustainability of their founder companies.
I will remain in post as Chief Executive leading the company’s strategic and business development.
This is a new structure and model for us at Unlimited. With continued commitment to our charitable objectives, we remain open to the potential for transformation and development as we work together to realise the dreams and ambitions of the company’s artists.
In response to this, we’ll be updating our Mission Statement and company structures to reflect these changes and through November-December each of our new company members will be introducing themselves and the projects they’ll be leading on more fully.
For now, follow all of us on all the socials as we move forwards:
Rachael @RachaelCAbbey (she/her)
Jamie @jamie_fletcher (she/her)
Tyrrell @Knaive_Tyrrell (he/him)
Lauren @LNicWhitter (she/her)
Jon @snoopfish (they/he)
Ali @Ali_Pidsley (he/him)
Welcome to the shows.
Photographer credits: Zanear Ali; David Wilson Clarke; Joseph Samuel Priestley