In July 2021 the Culture Collective were joined by Jo Verrent – Senior Producer at Unlimited, and Rachel Walker – Artist Support at Unlimited, to talk about access, ableism and inclusion. Their insights and thought-provoking conversation starters are shared here, alongside a blog from Unlimited detailing the range of resources they’ve created for artists, culture workers, creatives and producers.

Our thanks to Unlimited for permission to share this resource here.

Jo Verrent

Jo’s introduction gave us an insight into systemic ableism, Unlimited’s commissioning programme for disabled artists, self-defining (or not) as disabled, and the social model of disability. Jo outlined some of the barriers that disabled artists might face in accessing training and funding, and the role of Unlimited in trying to shift and challenge established systems in the arts. She gave an insight into access riders, then offered a provocation to inform further discussions:

How do you ensure that what you do and provide is accessible to disabled artists? How do you do that from a social model perspective?

Jo Verrent at the Culture Collective network Cuppa, July 2021.
Jo Verrent at Network Cuppa, July 2021

Rachel Walker

Rachel’s introduction started from the point that supporting disabled artists is important, but not sufficient on its own, and shared an insight into the importance of tackling systemic barriers to communities and audiences. She introduced Unlimited’s Allies programme as a means of embedding accessibility across the sector, and the programme of Unlimited Connects events. She shared an insight into Unlimited’s Cards for Inclusion resource, then set two provocations for discussion:

We know that disabled artists are making ground-breaking work. How can organisations make sure that they programme disabled artists and that representation is there?

How can organisations ensure access to everything that they do, not just work that has been created by disabled artists?

Rachel Walker at Network Cuppa, July 2021
Rachel Walker at Network Cuppa, July 2021