I have just been to the Welcome Day at Pervasive Media Studio, Watershed, Bristol for the recipients of the new commissions from Unlimited The new awardees, of which I am fortunate enough be one, can be seen here.
I am chair of the Emerging Panel. The process of selecting the commissions follows a well trodden course. The initial call out is for an expression of interest. At this stage the selection panel read all the applications and choose a number to go through to the next round. This is a complex process given that there are a large number – around 100 of applications and around 10 – 12 panellists. As you can imagine we rarely agree unanimously – so a wide range of works – about 20 get invited to put in a full application. These are all read by all panelists – either on the Emerging Panel, Full Commission and R & D Panel or the International Panel.
On the selection day we rigorously discuss each application. As there is only a finite amount of money we cannot fund everyone so it is a case of funding the best range of quality work we can within our limits.
I am really passionate about being on, and chairing, the Emerging Artists Panel. I firmly believe in keeping the ladder down and trying to provide real opportunities to disabled artists so that they can make the best work possible and develop a professional practice. There are so many barriers which restrict the development of disabled artists as practicing professionals – not least the largely perjorative attitude of the mainstream – but also funding, accessible working spaces, opportunities, economic issues, health issues and visibility to name but a few.