After 25 years producing new work for national and international audiences, Unlimited Theatre is embarking on a new chapter to create more opportunities for emerging and mid-career companies and artists. These new unAwards, each inspired by key moments in Unlimited’s history, aim to enable greater collaboration, experimentation and inclusive practice for artists and creatives.
We intend these grants to be easy to apply for and with minimal reporting so artists can focus their time and energy on making art, rather than making applications.
Awarding a minimum of £25,000 in 2023/24 and £30,000 in 2024/25, Unlimited Theatre is aiming to support the next generation of theatre makers and, in our ‘retirement’, leave a lasting legacy that enables new creatives and audiences to embark on inspirational journeys that they might not otherwise have been able to.
The funding pot is made up of remaining cash reserves and a generous donation from an existing supporter.
The unAwards will be open for applications 1-31 January 2024 with the intention (capacity allowing!) successful applicants being notified w/c 25 February 2024.
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Following is initial information on the three categories for the first round of unAwards going live in January 2024.
‘Starting Out’ – up to £2500
(a maximum of 2 awards in Round 1)
In 1998, one year after Unlimited was founded, we successfully applied for a £2500 award from the Princes Youth Business Trust. With that money we bought two pieces of equipment that we would never have been able to afford otherwise – our first computer and a Sony digital video camera. Both these pieces of kit were fundamental to our development and used by all six of the founder artists on numerous projects for many years.
This award is for early career artists of any age to buy equipment that:
• clearly and significantly contributes to the development of their company or artistic practice
• they would not otherwise be able to afford
As examples, equipment could include:
• computer/laptop that creates additional capability for income generation or artistic practice e.g. video editing/captioning
• ergonomic equipment/furniture to ease/aid impairments
• audio recording equipment
Full details of eligibility criteria and how to apply coming soon.
‘unLab’ – up to £5000
(a maximum of 2 awards in Round 1)
For many years, a major part of our process in making new work was to ‘retreat’ – to find somewhere remote where we could escape from the daily pressures of our lives and other projects and just be together. Mostly this would be a week together where we would cook for each other, eat together, walk and talk, share films and books and articles and essays. It was time for us as artists to dream, to share and interrogate ideas at the earliest stage of their infancy, to begin the process of imagining what we might make next. We actively refused to set any outcomes in advance. Which annoys funders. Because they want to know “WTAF are you ‘artists’ actually going to do with this money?”. But a lot of the time we couldn’t answer that question. Because we didn’t know yet. Because we hadn’t had any time together to imagine that. So we earned cash from other projects to create this time to spend together. And, of course, we (nearly) always came away from that time refreshed and excited and closer to each other as friends and artists and with exciting plans for what we could/would do next. This was our ‘laboratory’. We called it unLab.
This award is for early/mid career artists to retreat and begin to imagine their next project.
Applications will only be considered from applicants who have professionally produced at least 2 projects/productions (n.b. projects or productions created as part of the final year of of full time education should not be included)
This unAward is not for projects that are already in progress or been through any development process.
‘unLock’ – up to £10,000
(one award in Round 1)
Over the years, Unlimited made increasingly ambitious projects in collaboration with multiple partners across many sectors. As just one example…
…Future Bodies (2018) was a creative collaboration with RashDash that was co-produced by HOME and supported by the Wellcome Trust as well as Arts Council England. As well as a regular team of incredible stage, lighting and video designers (including Rhys Jarman, Joshua Pharo and Sarah Readman) we worked with deaf performers and creatives to incorporate BSL and ‘creative captioning’. Research partners included psychologist Professor Barbara Sahakian from the University of Cambridge, Dr Tim Constandinou from Imperial College London’s Next Generation Neural Interfaces Lab and Dr Anders Sandberg from Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford Unversity. Among MANY others.
One of the reasons we were able to make new work at this scale was because, as a Arts Council of England National Portfolio Organisation, we were able to bring a level of ‘in kind’ support and cash (from strategic reserves) that unlocked support from other (often bigger) partners.
This award is for mid career artists and companies (that are not NPOs) to unLock further support and/or enhance an ambitious project that has been through a development process and is ready for final production.
For this first unLock award, in honour of Unlimited’s long standing work in sci-art collaborations, we will be prioritising consideration of projects that have scientific institutions or researchers as core creative partners.
“Unlimited have been pioneers in combining theatre and science, fearlessly going where few other companies have gone before in exploring the metaphysical and everyday impact of scientific advances on our lives” Lyn Gardner in The Guardian
Future unLock awards will recognise other areas of Unlimited’s historical work and passions by supporting:
• a project that is led by and for LGBTQ+ artists/audiences
• a project to significantly enhance its creative approach to access for Deaf/disabled audiences
IMPORTANT NOTE: this award is to support ‘creation’ costs only i.e. rehearsal and production costs. Please do not include any touring costs in your submitted budget.
Full criteria and details on how to apply will be posted soon. Sign up to our email list (enter your email in the box at the bottom of any page on this site) and follow us on all the socials for updates.