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BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine – New Commissioning Strand to support disabled artists

Monday 9th November 2020 at 2pm 0 Comments Arts & Disability

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BBC Arts partners with Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland to announce Culture in Quarantine’s new commissioning strand to celebrate the work of disabled artists

As different restrictions are put in place across the United Kingdom, BBC Arts continues its Culture in Quarantine initiative, which aims to keep the arts in the homes of the public during lockdown and support artists at a difficult time with the launch of a new commissioning opportunity to celebrate the work of disabled artists. The strand has been established in partnership between BBC Arts, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland and forms part of the wider disability season across the BBC, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, supporting disabled artists across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to produce new works that will be hosted across BBC platforms.

D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists will be invited to apply to produce new video or audio works. The fund aims to commission ten new works, with support from digital production specialists.

The new commissioning programme marks the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act into law on 8th November 1995. The strand of programming is designed to help artists produce work at such a challenging time for the arts, and when some may be self-isolating, recognising that some disabled people are regarded by health professionals as being ‘vulnerable’ to the medical conditions associated with Covid-19. Artists can - but do not have to - create work that responds to the disabled experience of living through the pandemic. The commissioning strand will also work with the UK Disability Arts Alliance which amplifies the voices of D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled creative practitioners and disability arts organisations.

This new commissioning opportunity builds on the success of BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine artists’ commissioning strand, launched in April 2020 by BBC Arts and Arts Council England, which invited artists to give a creative response to the challenges of lockdown. A total of 25 commissions were produced, which achieved audiences in the millions across BBC and social platforms.

Jonty Claypole, Director BBC Arts commented: 

“The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 is one of the most important civil rights landmarks in British history. To mark this important anniversary, the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine initiative is joining with Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales and Creative Scotland to commission a range of film and audio projects that celebrate the talent of D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled professional artists today.  This is more important than ever in the age of Covid-19 when the need for extreme shielding threatens to silence many disabled artists who would otherwise be producing work for galleries, stages and other platforms around the UK.”

Artist, curator and producer, Cathy Mager, whose film ‘Sign Night’ was previously commissioned for Culture in Quarantine said:

"Being commissioned by BBC Arts and Arts Council England to produce work for the BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine initiative was incredible.  I was supported to create a film that explored British Sign Language culture in an authentic and powerful way and I'm delighted that this funding scheme is being expanded. It is vital to continue to invest in deaf and disabled artists, so that the stories of their diverse lived experience can come to the fore."

Noirín McKinney, Director, Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland said,

“We are delighted to be part of the BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine initiative on this important anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act. It is a timely partnership managed by the expertise of the digital support agency The Space, and provides valuable commissioning and production support for the artists involved. They will have the chance to increase their digital knowledge and skills, essential to creating and distributing new arts content in these times. The Arts Council is looking forward to seeing two significant and digitally accessible works from disabled artists in NI emerge from this commission next year, we are delighted to have received  funding from the Department for Communities to enable this partnership and provide opportunities to this vital sector .”

Information concerning the commissioning opportunity is available from https://www.thespace.org/commissioning

The deadline for applications is noon, Tuesday 12 January 2021. 

Commissions will be selected by a panel including representatives from BBC Arts, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland and the UK Disability Arts Alliance. It is expected that the works will be produced between March 2021 and June 2021, airing on BBC platforms later in 2021.

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