One of the things we’ve all been learning during this pandemic is that digital content of the arts means we can reach a much larger audience, including people who face barriers to attending live arts events. So for the first time, Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2020 will be presented online instead of live on Tuesday 13 October.

Hon Kelvin Davis welcomes guests to Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019With the country currently at Level 2/2.5, we made the decision earlier this week to go digital so we can be sure the event will happen. We’re excited about doing the awards ceremony differently this year and making the most of the opportunities to reach a huge audience. Rest assured, we will be celebrating and promoting the recipients of the Arts Access Accolade and six award recipients as much as ever.

We need only look at the online collaboration between Audio Described Aotearoa and the Royal New Zealand Ballet when the country was at Level 4 lockdown to see how effective a digital event can be.

More than 1500 people around the world tuned into four audio described online performances of previous RNZB ballets: Hansel and GretelPasschendaleDear Horizon and Romeo and Juliet.

Increasing access to ballet and other artforms

Nicola Owen, co-founder of Audio Described Aotearoa with her partner Paul Brown, says that a lot of people in the disabled community are used to not getting out much. “It feels as though online resources and events such as these audio described online performances are a great way to increase access to ballet and other artforms. After things go back to normal, it would be great if we all remember what we’ve learned through this crisis.”

Nicola Owen, audio describer

You can read more about the collaboration at International recognition for Audio Described Aotearoa.

Another champion of accessibility I want to highlight is Kelly Hodgins, a pioneer in sign language interpreting in theatre and other arts events. In the article Opening up the arts to Deaf people, Kelly talks about her 18-year career as a NZSL interpreter and her new company, Platform Interpreting NZ.
“What I love most about NZSL interpreting in the arts is bringing families and friends together and giving Deaf people the opportunity to be involved in social events like everyone else. Traditionally, the Deaf community has been isolated. NZSL access means they can experience the richness of the arts, impacting positively on their mental health and wellbeing. It’s wonderful to see the joy on their faces. It’s about achieving equality.”

Advocating for the rights of disabled people

Last year’s Arts Access Accolade recipient Robyn Hunt is another accessibility champion. In the profile Robyn Hunt: fighting for human rights, she says: “I can’t stand injustice and I can’t stand discrimination. It’s something you can’t just turn on and off. Once you know about it you have to keep on fighting to make things right.”

I love this comment because it encapsulates Robyn’s spirit and determination to advocate for the rights of disabled people.

Robyn Hunt, right, with Trish Harris at the 2019 launch of Crip the Lit's publication, Here we are read us  The Arts Access Accolade is presented annually at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards. It was introduced in 2014 and the inaugural recipient was Philip Patston. Unlike the other awards, which are selected by a judging panel, the Accolade is selected by Arts Access Aotearoa's staff and board. It recognises a person who has inspired the Arts Access Aotearoa team and helped the organisation achieve its vision of a society where all people in New Zealand have access to the arts – someone we can’t imagine not having on board.

You can read more about the Accolade recipients on Arts Access Aotearoa’s website.

There’s less than a month to go until Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2020. We invite you all to join us online at 6.30pm Tuesday 13 October in celebrating the recipient of this year’s Arts Access Accolade and the six award recipients. The Awards 2020 webpage will be updated regularly in the build-up to the awards ceremony.



Celebrating champions of arts access and inclusion


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