Let’s talk about the importance of an inclusive society in Aotearoa where everyone has access to the arts; where there are no barriers to participation; and where Deaf and disabled artists can have rewarding, sustainable careers in their chosen artform. 

The world needs the arts to articulate our strengths, hopes and fears; bring joy and escape; and shed light on the past to build a better future. Artists, arts tutors and all other creatives provide social, economic, and cultural benefits, including employment, improved mental health and connected communities.

In Aotearoa, we’ve taken some big steps over the past decade to improve accessibility and inclusion in the arts and the momentum needs collective impact. That’s why I am calling on you, our readers and network of friends to become part of a collective voice.

Will you make one social media post about an arts event or project you have done, are part of or have seen that highlights the importance of accessible arts. Please tag #ArtsAccessAotearoa and do that again the next month and for the rest of this year. 

Thank you for joining the momentum of people advocating for the value of creative spaces, and all events and programmes that provide accessible and inclusive arts.

When I first started at Arts Access Aotearoa in 2010, we had precious little evidence about accessible arts events. However last year, we recorded close to 300 accessible events, including audio described, relaxed and NZSL interpreted events. This was a 32 per cent increase on 2022.

This fantastic increase is due to the collective efforts of members of the national Arts For All Network, which has 784 members across seven regional networks. The members and activators of our networks are doing great work. You can find out more about Arts For All Network on our website.

Also committed to increasing access and inclusion in the arts are the 80 plus creative spaces in towns, cities and communities throughout New Zealand. You can find out more about the Creative Spaces Network on its website, developed last year by Arts Access Aotearoa and our strategic partner Flightdec.

Valuable advocacy resources

Creative New Zealand has valuable advocacy resources and you can check them out on its website. These include:

  • a guide for arts advocates, called Changing the story on arts, culture and creativity in Aotearoa. It provides advice and ideas about building support for change. You can download in various formats and also watch a Q&A video
  • a practical list of things you can do to advocate for the value of the arts, including getting in touch with local councillors and mayors. Read more
  • data and insights about the value of arts and culture. This is an important resource, providing the evidence we need to convince politicians and funders.

Having research, particularly focused on Aotearoa New Zealand, is an important tool to support our collective advocacy and so it’s great that Creative New Zealand has provided so many excellent insights.

We will be making the most of our combined advocacy tools as we work with our leaders and activators to promote the value of and funding for your accessible creative spaces and accessible events.

Please do get in touch with me if you have any feedback or ideas about advocating for access to the arts (E: richard.benge@artsaccess.org.nz).


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