Recent continuation funding from Spirit means that Shape Arts and Arts admin will be able to continue delivering Unlimited Impact until 2019, meaning the programme will see even more funding and support available for disabled emerging artists across the UK.

Shape’s Programme Coordinator, Fiona Slater, caught up with Jo Verrent, Senior Producer of Unlimited, and Debbie Lye, Chief Executive of Spirit of 2012, to look back over the last three years and get a taster of things to come.

What has been your personal highlight from the last three years of Unlimited Impact? 

JV: I’ve got three! The first is the 11 Million Reasons photographic series – it’s astounding. A simple but highly creative idea – iconic moments of dance in film re-enacted by disabled dancers – delivered beautifully, touring around the world and seeding a whole new programme of work for People Dancing. The second is our work with one of our allies, Battersea Arts Centre, who run The Collaborative Touring Network with festivals around the country. It’s really shown us what a tiny amount of funding and real, practical support can achieve – we made a short video of the impact of this work, which you can watch here and see for yourself. My third is Flatmates, an on-line ’soap’ created by emerging Welsh artist Richard Newnham. It’s incredibly funny, it has extremely high production values and it’s available online for all – go watch it!

DL: Because Spirit is committed to opening doors for young people Diverse City really stands out for me – their youth group developed and staged an absolutely stunning piece for the last Southbank Centre’s Unlimited festival. It’s also good to see the opportunity created for Emily as the Unlimited Impact trainee – I know she’s right at the heart of plans for the future and is gaining unparalleled, hands-on experience of production.


The focus of the programme has shifted slightly. Can you tell us a bit more about what’s new this time around, Jo?

JV: We are so happy to be bringing the work of emerging artists right into the heart of the commissions programme. To be honest, when we began we really weren’t sure if we had the right networks to reach enough disabled young artists or emerging creatives across the UK that would be able to produce work at the quality levels we wanted to support – that’s why we started slowly with a bespoke programme to nurture from the ground up.


The emerging artists we have supported have shown us, time and time again, that they are out there and working at extremely high levels already – hence the confidence we have in opening up into a whole strand of activity aimed just at this group, supported by Spirit of 2012 (keep checking the Unlimited Impact website for more on that later this month).

Debbie, can you tell us how Unlimited Impact fit within the wider picture of Spirit of 2012’s work and your aims as a funder?

DB: Spirit of 2012 is all about creating opportunities for people to develop skills and hone their talents; we fund Unlimited Impact because it’s really tough for young, emerging, disabled artists to find their first audiences and take those first steps towards professional commissions. Ultimately, we are confident that our support for this amazing initiative is making an invaluable contribution to the flowering of a richly diverse artistic landscape.

I mentioned audiences, and they are so important because the ambition to challenge and change limiting perceptions of disability is at the heart of all we do. Unlimited Impact is a highly respected brand with the power to bring those audiences in, opening thousands of eyes, hearts and minds to the creativity of these talented young artists.

What are you looking forward to over the three years to come?

JV: As always, more art! I know we’ll be able to support a greater diversity of work from a greater diversity of makers – all with unique voices and perspectives. I can’t wait to have my take on the world stretched by the work of the emerging artists we fund and to, in some small way, be part of their journey.

DL: I’m very excited to see a new generation of talented artists empowered to grow in confidence and create fantastic, surprising new work. There’s such creativity out there, and I’m much looking forward to being part of the selection panel for new commissions.

Thanks both. And remember – if you’re an emerging disabled artist keep checking the Unlimited Impact website for future announcements.

Further information

Unlimited impact website

Shape Arts


Funding in Focus…Unlimited Impact