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Major Commissions Awarded to Ground-Breaking Program for Disabled Artists
Unlimited, the ground-breaking programme of major commissions to disabled and deaf artists, announced funding for a new round of projects today totalling more than £820,000. The programme celebrates disability, arts, culture and sport on an unprecedented scale and will be central to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Unlimited Global Alchemy is a commission led by British visual artist Rachel Gadsden, in partnership with South African artist and activist Nondumiso Hlwele, and the Bambanani Women's Group based in Cape Town, South Africa.

LONDON.- The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the UK Arts Councils and the British Council have awarded £820,000 funding to a new round of major commissions for Unlimited, the ground-breaking programme that celebrates arts and culture by disabled and deaf artists on an unprecedented scale for the Cultural Olympiad.

The 13 new commissions range widely in artform including choreography, live arts, visual arts and theatre. Projects include a circus show exploring the ups and downs of Bipolar Disorder and thousands of ceramic flowers planted at historic sites across the country. The works will take place across the UK and with support from the British Council many of the commissions will see collaboration between the artists in the UK and other countries including Brazil, China, Germany and South Africa.

Unlimited encourages collaborations and partnerships between disability-lead arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers, and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and produce work like never before. The programme, with a total fund of £3m, is principally funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, and is delivered in partnership between London 2012, Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

The first round of Unlimited Commissions was announced in March 2010, and awarded ten artists funds totalling £400,000. These projects are now being developed and are demonstrating the significant talent of disabled artists at festivals and events across the country including DaDaFest 2010, International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts (IETM) showcase in Glasgow, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, and the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Janice Parker was awarded a Herald Angel Award for her Private Dancer performance.

The new commissions for round two of Unlimited announced are:

LONDON Candoco Dance Company – Unlimited International Dance
As a development of their first Unlimited commission, Candoco will commission two emerging disabled choreographers; Marc Brew and Claire Cunningham to make a large-scale dance piece for disabled and non-disabled dancers. The international cast will include dancers from Brazil and China to link the past, current and future Olympic and Paralympic host nations. This will result in two world-class inclusive dance pieces that will be performed in 2012. For Candoco Unlimited International, Candoco will commission Raimund Hoghe to create a work for four Candoco company dancers and members of his own company. Both Candoco and Raimund Hoghe are driven by a belief in the value of the artistic contribution of the individual and the creation will be guided by this belief. This site-sensitive work will be international in ambition, and will celebrate difference.

LONDON Daily Life – Mad Gyms and Kitchens Installation
Mad Gyms and Kitchens is a large-scale touring project based on performance artist Bobby Baker’s experience of recovery from serious mental and physical illness. Investigating the benefits of exercise and nutrition in the pursuit for health and wellbeing, this show burgeons into Bobby’s ‘visionary crusade’ on behalf of autonomy and personal choice. By celebrating and critiquing some of the advice she has received as a result of her disabilities, Bobby will perform a series of demonstrations using fantastical ‘wellbeing’ equipment, created in collaboration with sculptor Charlie Whittuck. The performances will then unfold in to an intricately crafted, mechanical installation.

SOUTH EAST Rachel Gadsden - Unlimited Global Alchemy Combined Arts
Unlimited Global Alchemy is a commission led by British visual artist Rachel Gadsden, in partnership with South African artist and activist Nondumiso Hlwele, and the Bambanani Women’s Group based in Cape Town, South Africa, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, and Artsadmin. Sharing a powerful sensibility and complicated life-giving medical regimes, the women are united by their ability to survive, and their shared desire to communicate important messages about human fragility through art. Unlimited Global Alchemy will create an exhibition of large-scale visual artworks in South Africa and in the UK. During 2012, a film, an exhibition and a live multi-media theatrical visual performance will take place involving Rachel Gadsden, choreographer Mark Smith and Nondumiso Hlwele.

YORKSHIRE David Toole – Boundless (working title) Dance
David Toole and Lucy Hind are working with acclaimed UK choreographer Liam Steel in collaboration with South African dance company Remix to create a new integrated dance work in partnership with DanceXchange in the UK, and The Baxter Theatre in South Africa. Twelve artists, both disabled and non-disabled, will come together for an eight-week collaborative residency in South Africa including a combined creative team from both nations. The creative team comprises acclaimed artists including choreographer Liam Steel, South African born composer and performer Neo Muyanga; and UK performer and musician Dominic Lawton.

YORKSHIRE Michele Weaver – Bipolar Circus Theatre/Circus
Building on the success of her first Unlimited commission, Michele Weaver will develop Bipolar Ringmaster from a one-man show into an ensemble circus show with a difference. It will become a spectacular live performance integrating film, acrobatics, live music, colour and humour. The character, delivery and quality of Bipolar Circus will challenge public perceptions of Bipolar Disorder - both the negativity associated with depression and the contentious links between mania and genius creativity. Through articulating a myriad of possible conducts associated with the mood disorder, the performance will inform and engage while challenging classic stereotypes and exalt in the absence of mundanity.

M21 will be a unique live art event which will take place in Much Wenlock, Shropshire in May 2012 in collaboration with DASH. In a time when widespread cuts are affecting the quality of life of disabled people, M21 will explore with a group of disabled live artists the themes of contemporary life and how this relates to our past. M21 aims to have a fundamental influence on the development of disability live art in the UK and will be a statement of what it is to be alive in the 21st century through a disability aesthetic.

EAST MIDLANDS Paul Cummins - English Garden Flower installation Visual Arts
Fine ceramic artist Paul Cummins will create a quintessentially English flower garden made up of up to 10,000 individual blooms crafted by hand. During 2012, Paul will hold a series of exhibitions at specially selected venues across the UK chosen for their historical and social significance. Each bloom will be unique but will form part of the larger flower community. The flowers will be hand-thrown on a potter’s wheel and will be attached to galvanised steel rods, ranging from 50 - 70cm in height, allowing the flowers to move in the breeze.

SCOTLAND Claire Cunningham – Ménage àTrois Combined Arts
Ménage à Trois is a physical performance piece created, conceived and performed by Claire Cunningham combining dance, puppetry, projection, animation and music, created in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland. In a dark, private chamber, echoing with the chimes of hundreds of silver strands of threaded crutches suspended high above, the story of a lonely woman unfolds. Her need for companionship drives her to begin to craft a man. The perfect man....out of the only thing she knows, the only companion she has.....crutches. A study of love, obsession, loneliness, manipulation and all the insecurities and misconceptions we face in our search for someone that accepts us, and of trying to accept ourselves. A beautiful, haunting study about the nature of love, loneliness and the search for a perfect partner will be created by Cunningham together with a team of highly respected collaborators including Video Artist Gail Sneddon.

SCOTLAND Caroline Bowditch – leaving limbo landing Photography/Dance
Leaving-limbo-landing is a new multi-artform collaborative work that will be created by independent disabled dance maker and performance artist, Caroline Bowditch. Presented by East London Dance, leaving-limbo-landing is about journey, placement, displacement, settling, arrivals and departures. It will include an interactive installation with performance elements in air, water and on land. Caroline is interested in working in non-traditional performance locations with bodies that don’t generally fit the dance mould and she is passionate about creating work that is accessible to audiences.

SCOTLAND Marc Brew - Fusional Fragments Dance
Choreographer Marc Brew, in partnership with DanceEast, will create a new dance work exploring the concept of fusion of fragments between classical ballet and contemporary dance. Accompanied by original music by Philip Sheppard and acclaimed composer and percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, a cast of six dancers will investigate the difference and influences of the two styles, questioning whether elements can be fused together or if they should remain as fragments in isolation. Fusional Fragments will be created and presented at DanceEast in Ipswich, The Royal Opera House in London and DanceXchange in Birmingham.

WALES Kaite O’Reilly – The ‘d’ Monologues Theatre
The ‘d’ Monologues are a series of witty and provocative monologues written by Kaite O’Reilly. They are inspired by the experiences, attitudes and imagination of disabled and deaf people from across the UK. In this second commission from Unlimited, National Theatre Wales will join forces with Kaite in a groundbreaking production, offering an outstanding showcase of talent and featuring new monologues created throughout 2011. Performed by an ensemble of new, emerging, and established disabled and deaf performers from across the UK, disability culture and deaf arts will take centre stage in an unprecedented production by a National Theatre.

NORTHERN IRELAND Sinead O’Donnell - CAUTION Performance/Exhibition
Led by Sinead O’Donnell and produced by Artsadmin, CAUTION will bring together some of the world’s leading performance artists - Sylvette Babin (Montreal, Canada), Mariel Carranza (Los Angeles, USA/Lima, Peru), Paul Couillard (Toronto, Canada), Poshya Kakl (Erbil, Kurdistan-Iraq) and Shiro Masuyama (Tokyo, Japan) - to collaborate on a major international project exploring ‘invisible’ disability. The resulting performance and exhibition will showcase high quality, ambitious work by disabled and deaf artists at Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast. The process will encourage the artists to challenge their methodology and to create work that brings their disabilities into new territories. Artists will be encouraged to create work that opens doors, changes minds and inspires new work and collaboration.

Ruth Mackenzie, Cultural Olympiad, Director, said: ‘This commission is about world-class artists creating brilliant work which will change perceptions of the work of disabled and deaf artists. Congratulations to the commissioned artists and we look forward to seeing how their work develops.’

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director London, Arts Council England said: ‘It is so exciting to see the quality and range of these Unlimited commissions. When we started to devise this programme, we could hardly imagine the collaborations that would develop, the scale of ambition that would be realised and the audiences that would be reached, both in the UK and internationally in the run up to 2012. We are thrilled to see the growing strength and confidence of deaf and disabled artists and we would like to congratulate all the successful applicants in this round.’

Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair of the British Council, said: ‘Through Unlimited, important new collaborations between disabled and deaf artists in the UK and overseas are starting to take shape. Unlimited provides a wealth of opportunities – taking the work of these artists to new audiences, building their credibility and confidence, and enabling the arts world to work more effectively with disabled and deaf people. As an organisation that builds relationships for the UK around the world, the British Council is proud to be helping to bring about these international collaborations through Unlimited, and contribute to the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We look forward to seeing many more applications for the third and final round.’

Rt Hon Dame Janet Paraskeva DBE, Chair of the Olympic Lottery Distributor, said: ‘Unlimited is using National Lottery funding to support and develop the talent of disabled and deaf artists. These wonderful new commissions illustrate in a tangible way how that funding is helping creativity to flourish for those artists.’

Minister for the Cultural Olympiad, Ed Vaizey said: ‘Through performance and visual art the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be brought to life in communities across the country. This exciting new series of commissions from talented disabled and deaf artists capture some of the key values of the 2012 Games. This is a Games for everyone and is about more than sport alone but is also a celebration of culture, diversity and human achievement.’

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘This is an astonishingly diverse and eclectic bunch of artists and performers. It shows how much creativity there is out there and will add to the breadth and excitement of the 2012 cultural programme, as well as helping to break down barriers. I want London to be at the forefront of disability arts as well as sporting participation, so I'm really pleased to see two London companies get recognition for their striking work.’

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