Unity Receives Funding from Arts Council England

Friday, 4 November 2022

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Following Arts Council England’s announcement of their latest National Portfolio Organisations for the years 2023 – 2026, we are delighted to announce that Unity has maintained its funding level for this period.

The funding received from Arts Council England over the next three years will allow Unity to continue our work developing and supporting local artists, platforming and celebrating local communities, and presenting high-quality performances and creative experiences online, off-site and in our iconic venue.

How we invest our funding:

Throughout the pandemic we contributed to the survival of 90 local artists by investing over £55,000 in their work and development, plus in-kind space, training and mentoring to continue their practice.

We launched an access-led digital programme. Unity Online is our digital performance platform that ensures at least 70% of our live events are also available to watch online. Through this commitment to showcasing our programme digitally as well as live, we’re able to build on our in-venue access programme, provide 100% captioning and high-quality entertainment to those for whom attending in person is not an option, offer recordings and resources to local educators, and share the creative talents in our city with a national and international audience – with 61% of views watching from beyond Merseyside. We also developed ProPortal – an industry-leading national programming website to grow equality of opportunity for artists who cannot afford to share work at festivals.

This work led to us being awarded Liverpool City Region Arts Organisation of the Year 2021.

Post-pandemic, we have been able to continue investment in local artists through a second of year of Open Call. The Open Call programme has invested £78,000 to date, funding 44 Liverpool-based artists who have performed on our stage or out in the city as part of our season of events, ran community engagement programmes, received funded time and space to explore ideas and turn their content into digital programming also. Just this week we announced its return for 2023.

Our venue has also become the proud home of two resident companies. Every week our building is handed over to RAWD – a Merseyside-based company dedicated to championing disabled artists and putting their voices centre stage – who meet for weekly workshops, develop shows and have just announced their first tour! We have also collaborated with our neighbours and friends at 20 Stories High on a Youth Theatre for 16-24 year olds in Liverpool to meet and make plays that mash up dance, spoken word, music, song, street dance and puppetry.

Our Creative’pool programme is now supporting over 200 Merseyside artists a year, providing intensive training, workshops, entry level courses, shadowing opportunities and masterclasses to develop local talent and provide them with the skills, opportunity and resource to build a career in the sector.

Crucially, Unity exists to provide Liverpool with unique, high-quality creative experiences. Our vast and diverse events programme platforms underrepresented stories and brings much-needed entertainment to the city through a programme of the very best of local, national and international theatre, dance, comedy, music, spoken word, film and more.

“The funding received from Arts Council England today will ensure the work above keeps going and that we continue to provide you with an exciting programme, nurture local talent and provide much needed employment and funding opportunity, promote the creativity of Liverpool on a national stage and encourage a supportive and accessible society through arts and culture.” – Gordon Millar, CEO and Artistic Director

Finally, since applying for these funds, the climate our organisation exists in has once again shifted dramatically. Like everybody, we are feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, so we will continue to rethink and imagine what we do and fundraise to ensure the gap generated by rising costs is covered.

We’d like to thank Arts Council England for their investment in us today. We’d also like to thank the artists, audiences, communities, staff and partners who make Unity what we are. With this investment we will continue to make Unity a place for anybody who needs us, and provide you with the support, entertainment, space and opportunities you need.


For further information please contact RachaelWelsh@unitytheatre.co.uk