Dance can be such a joyful, liberating thing to do and something we can share with others whatever our abilities. As Catherine Chappell, Artistic Director of Touch Compass, said on RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme this week, “Anyone can dance because it’s all about movement and we move every day, even if it’s just a small range of movement."

The cover of DANZ MagazineWe were pleased to work with DANZ and support the latest issue of its DANZ Magazine focused on access and inclusion. The magazine features a range of articles, including a profile of dancer, choreographer and teacher Suzanne Cowan; an interview with Charlotte Nightingale of Touch Compass Dance Company; an article about dance and creative ageing; and a feature about the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s “grand jeté into accessibility”.

Also part of DANZ Magazine is a six-page pullout called Dance For All. Based mainly on content in Arts Access Aotearoa’s publication, Arts For All: Ngā toi mō te katoa, it also includes content provided by Touch Compass about teaching inclusive dance.

In my introduction to the pullout, I ask what is meant by words such as “arts access”, “accessibility” and “being accessible”. And why it matters and what companies, venues, artists and producers can do to be more accessible.

There are many people who face barriers to access, not only as audience members and museum or gallery visitors but also as artists creating, performing and exhibiting.  This includes people with physical, sensory or intellectual impairments; and people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

The right to enjoy what the arts can offer

Access to the arts matters because everyone has the right to enjoy what the arts can offer. Participation in the arts is listed as an outcome in the New Zealand Disability Strategy under Outcome 3, Health and Wellbeing: “Participation in community activities if we choose (for example, sport, recreation, arts and culture), or just being present and belonging to our community is supported and valued.”

A collage of images from Jolt DanceSo what can you do to ensure more people can experience dance workshops, classes and performances?

Check out the Arts Access Aotearoa website, get in touch with us and join the Arts For All Network. There are five regional networks in Auckland Taranaki, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. These networks are made up of representatives from the disability sector, festivals, performing arts companies, literary organisations, museums, galleries, venues and producers.

They meet twice a year to learn how to increase accessibility at their place and their events. Meetings are free to attend and they’re a great way to get together with others seeking to make the arts accessible.

Since 2011, Arts Access Aotearoa has seen significant progress and increased opportunities for disabled people to engage in the arts. In 2017, we recorded 65 accessible services at arts and cultural events around New Zealand. This included 16 audio described events for blind or low vision people; 20 sign interpreted events for Deaf people; and 10 relaxed performances for people with autism, sensory and communication disorders or a learning difficulty.

Commitment to access and inclusion

And 2018, the number of accessible arts and cultural events and experiences is looking fantastic, thanks to the members’ commitment to access and inclusion.

Auckland Arts Festival, recipient of the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2018Earlier this year, the Auckland Arts Festival pulled out all the accessible stops by offering accessible services for 14 events, including a touch tour and an audio described performance of the English National Ballet’s production of Giselle. Importantly, it also reduced the cost of tickets for disabled people (and their carers) to $20.

The Festival’s leadership, commitment and engagement with Auckland’s various disability communities resulted in a massive 806% increase in ticket sales to the Auckland Arts Festival 2018’s accessible events – up from 47 patrons to the 2017 accessible events to 426 in 2018.

Auckland Arts Festival’s commitment to being accessible earned it the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2018. Could this be you next year?

Andrea Gaskin leads a discussion with people with dementiaAlso in this month’s issue of the Arts Access In Touch newsletter, we have an article about Auckland charity Connect the Dots. A member of the Arts For All Auckland Network, Connect the Dots runs art classes and workshops for older people and people living with dementia.
As Connecting the creative dots for people with dementia points out, the need to support people with dementia is of growing importance. By 2050, it is estimated that 150,000 New Zealanders will be living with dementia – something that also affects their family and friends. That’s up from around 60,000 New Zealanders currently living with dementia.

Claire Noble, our Access and Participation Advisor, is organising the second round of Arts For All Network meetings around the country. Please check out the Arts For All Network section on this website and get in touch with Claire (T: 04 802 4349 E: for more information and to join a network.

Increasing access to dance


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