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The Unlimited International network

March 5, 2018
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(Part 6 of 10 in a series of blog posts evaluating the Unlimited International programme)

How do the stakeholders feel that the Unlimited International network has developed during the programme?

The stakeholders reported that many new and lasting professional relationships were formed through the Unlimited International programme.

“I forged some really great relationships which have continued.” (Australia)

“Widening the number and range of disability organisations and disabled artists we work with.” (Brazil)

“The relationships between the two set of collaborators, organisations encountered and the will to succeed and perhaps work together again or keep momentum going.” (Japan)

“Connecting disabled artists with one another, connecting them to producers, arts organisations and funders. Press connections.” (Singapore)

“All the participants will stay connected to each other. Plus we have forged relationships with international Centre Goa, Kala Academy and University of Goa.” (India)

“The network I developed during the placement has helped to develop a strong partnership with organizations that are helping to develop disability art scene in Uganda.  It creates a platform for the participants to meet several important persons whom supports the development of the participants projects through inspirations and collaborations.” (Uganda)

New networks in the UK were particularly appreciated by some international stakeholders.

“Wider network with disability arts in UK.” (Cambodia)

“I developed strong networks within the UK arts and disability sectors.” (Australia)

“New connections made between him and the UK disability arts sector – key now is to continue them and for him to share them across East Africa.” (Uganda)

Many of these new relationships have contributed to making the experience enjoyable for stakeholders.

“The whole team is like one family. The time we spent there was memorable. We felt it was our family. And everyone were wonderful and lovely.” (India)

“I felt our communication is always open and mutually stimulating.”  (Singapore)

“They are an amazing and kind group.” (China)

“Definitely new friendships. It was quite incredible how so many of us really connected and bonded.  It connected me to some great people I want to work with again.” (India)

Some of these relationships have resulted in further international introductions and collaborations.

“Ramesh Meyyappan, a UK-based Singaporean artist is now back in Singapore championing disability arts in Singapore.” (Singapore)

“A better network to draw from, in terms of artists to bring to Australia. I’ve tried to make some inroads with some Unlimited artists to come to Australia.”  (Australia)

“We really want to now work again with many of musicians we met on this project – both in India and if possible bringing them to the UK.” (India)

“It has led to some delegates from major international venues seeing work by disabled artists for the first time and see high quality work which they have then invited to feature in their programmes.” (Japan)

Many have also proved to be a catalyst for more new work.

“There is ancillary stuff going on around the project that couldn’t have happened without the Unlimited project.  We’re embarking on a research programme with a University about the impact and barriers.  We hope to present at an international symposium, and this project will help to further that ambition.” (Brazil)

“I got my first independent consultancy gig which was amazing.  Now I’m the CEO of an arts and disability organisation, which would probably not have happened without my Unlimited experience.”  (Australia)

“Creating future opportunities for them. (residencies, exhibitions etc.)” (Palestine)

“There is a parallel local project that hopes to be something ongoing.”  (Singapore)

“We have a co-producing programme which allowed colleagues from the UK to come to Cambodia.  It is not a finished piece, but it is about the process.  About a boy with cerebral palsy who wants to be a dancer.  An opportunity for him to tell his story, and explore the process.”  (Cambodia)

“I left my work to concentrate my effort on Disability Arts Project Uganda and disability arts festival the idea which I developed through doing a placement with Unlimited.” (Uganda)

“We invited Fred to Uganda to a dance festival to talk about how to make it accessible for audiences and performers, then again to check people had the right accommodation and accessibility in venues, as a paid consultant. We’ve been able to keep engaging him with consultancy contracts.  Keep his expertise and bring it to our programme.” (Uganda)

It was noted that mechanisms for maintaining the Unlimited International network after the project ends could be helpful.

“I’m interested in seeing whether there is a way to have a continuing relationship and still be involved with Unlimited in one way or another after the placements end. It would be great if there were opportunities to have continuing roles (even on a panel at the festival for example?) for international alumni.” (Australia)

“Key now is to keep the connections going. Create a follow up plan for the participant before the participant even starts the journey. Someone from Unlimited checking in once a month.  Push him to keep remembering the contacts.”  (Uganda)

What can Unlimited International learn from this?

The Unlimited International network is a real strength of the programme.

Initially Unlimited International linked UK and international artists and producers together to form effective creative collaborations and knowledge exchange partnerships.  Relationships have then grown organically, now encompassing a wide variety of other interested parties from audiences to academics.  This has ultimately led to further opportunities for all involved, which would not have been possible without the original activity.

The Unlimited International network should be acknowledged, cemented and built upon so that any future work continues to result in more than the sum of its parts.  Unlimited International could track these networks, along with both direct and secondary impacts resulting from them.

Unlimited International will also need to consider ways to use its expanding international network to best effect so that it supports current and previous award holders and perhaps emerging international contacts.

 

Image: Unfixed Artists photo by Fee Plumley

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