Artistic Achievement Award recipients from 2014 to 2021
Artistic Achievement Award leaders

The Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award is presented annually at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards. It was introduced in 2012 and the inaugural recipient was circus performer Sarah Houbolt. The award recognises the outstanding artistic achievements and contribution of a New Zealand-based artist, who has a physical, sensory or intellectual impairment, or lived experience of mental ill-health. Together, these recipients form a special group of artists who create and present the arts, offering fresh perspectives for all of us to enjoy. They are leading advocates for both the arts and for disability, and contribute immensely to a more diverse, inclusive society in Aotearoa New Zealand.

2021: Dancer smashes perceptions around disability

Lusi Faiva“Art can smash perceptions and boundaries and Lusi wields one of the biggest hammers. Lusi has been acknowledged for her contributions to the arts community over the past year, winning awards. And each time, her mana is elevated,” says Rose Kirkup, artistic director of Wellington theatre group Everybody Cool Lives Here. Read more about Lusi Faiva

2020: Duncan Armstrong a trailblazing performing artist  

“I didn’t really decide to become an actor, it came to me at primary school,” says Duncan Armstrong, aged 31 and a trailblazer when it comes to breaking down the barriers that face disabled performers. has spent the past 14 years pursuing his career with single-minded determination. He’s not about to be pigeon-holed: he wants to do everything. Read more about Duncan Armstrong

2019: Yaniv Janson empowers people to create social change

Yaniv JansonThroughout his creative journey, a central theme has remained constant: to empower individuals to use expression, outreach and education as a tool for social change. He combines art with activism to get people’s attention about environmental and social issues. He wants to enable people to experience art through different senses, and to challenge what is done and not done in the art world. Read more about Yaniv Janson

2018: Jesse Johnstone-Steele – changing perceptions

Jesse Johnstone-SteeleJesse Johnstone-Steele has been changing people’s perceptions about who can dance for the past 20 years and has been a pivotal performer with Touch Compass Dance Trust since it began in 1997. Catherine Chappell, its Artistic Director, says: “Jesse’s cheeky; a showman and a great improviser, who lights up the room. He’s fully committed to his dance and work, and his ability to sense and feel the dance and music is rare.” Read about Jesse Johnstone-Steele

2017: Rodney Bell – dancing my stories

Rodney BellMy performance is an accumulation of many layers: my disability, my Māori heritage, my experience on the streets, my passion for movement and connection. When I am dancing I enter a new state of being where I can connect with my higher self physically, mentally and spiritually. From that place I can bring awareness about what is important to me through performance."  Read Rodney Bell's profile 

2016: David Cameron – stories shaped with clay

David Cameron“I love the the immediacy of uku – sensing moisture, heat, firmness and softness, pliability – and taking that lump of clay and modelling it into an aesthetically beautiful form. There are challenges to overcome working with this malleable material. The chemistry of fire and glaze can have unexpected – sometimes spectacular – results during the firing process." Read David Cameron's profile

2015: Pati Umaga – sounds of empowerment

Pati Umaga in Siva"We all got our musical ability from my grandfather. Dad was very good on the saxophone and trumpet and his dream was to see us in a family band. That’s why my parents led me and my brothers into music from a very young age. I started with piano, then guitar, until I settled on the bass guitar as my instrument." Read Pati Umaga's profile 

2014: Artist awarded one of his trophy creations

Robert RapsonCeramic artist Robert Rapson, who has made the trophies for the annual Arts Access Awards for the past four years, has received one of his trophy creations: the Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award 2014. Robert learned he was the recipient when he returned home to the Hutt Valley in late June after three months travelling in Europe and North America. Read more about Robert Rapson

2013: Award recipient pushes the boundaries

Andrew McMillanFor Auckland composer, musician, sound designer and director Andrew McMillan, music is about people, community and original expression – something that is sometimes threatened by the commercialised music industry. “I think the music industry can be stifling for community. Music becomes a commodity," he says. Read more about Andrew McMillan

2012: Sarah Houbolt brings KooKoo to life

Sarah HouboltCircus performer Sarah Houbolt says she was excited to create a show about a woman with a similar disability to her own. "I found the story of KooKoo and the other freak-show performers fascinating. I could relate to these performers finding a space for themselves on the fringes, and I think it's important that we tell their stories rather than shying away from them." Read more about Sarah Houbolt









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