The view 20 years on…

It is very exciting to let everyone know that Arts Access Aotearoa is celebrating its 20 year anniversary and you are invited!Arts Access Aotearoa 20the Anniversary

I’m a great believer in taking the time to acknowledge life and work milestones. Why? Because in the busyness of life if we only focus on more hills to climb we never get to appreciate when we arrive at a major stage along the way. It’s important to pause, see how far you’ve climbed and enjoy the view.

The first thing to do from this perspective is acknowledge that we got here standing on the shoulders of other people. Without their efforts there would be no milestone to acknowledge. I have a short story that’s connected to the genesis of Arts Access Aotearoa and to the person who had the foresight to establish it. Back in ‘the 80’s’ I was working in Melbourne on an Artist’s in Residence project that Arts Access Victoria had established in Larundel Psychiatric Hospital with my colleague Libby O’Neil. One day in the midst of our building costumes for a drama rehearsal with patients we had a visit from a woman from New Zealand's Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. All these years later I clearly remember our visitor pausing amid our costume strewn studio and asking "So… how do you do all this? How does a programme like this happen? I want to develop something like this in New Zealand".Penny Eames with artist Amy Szostack (Mel Smith CNZM in left rear) at launch of creative solution and social inclusion 2003

Our visitor was Penny Eames who was working on the Arts Access programme within the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. Penny went on to establish the not for profit Arts Access Aotearoa that is still here today. In her book Creative Solutions and Social Inclusion (2003) Penny describes what drives our organisation. 'Arts Access Aotearoa’s central belief is that everyone has a right to be creative. Its mission is to ensure access to the arts for all, with a particular focus on people who, for reasons of disadvantage, disability or isolation have not previously had access to the arts, either as participants or audience'.

This vison guides us still. There have been many people since the first days who can share in and feel pleased with this achievement. However we don’t presume to measure success only in years. Since 1995 accessibility, inclusion and opportunities for participation in the arts have greatly increased. There are many more people these days with knowledge, experience and examples of success.

On Wednesday July 1st we will celebrate what Penny  (who with Chair Mel Smith, trustees, staff and the QEII Arts Council, now Creative New Zealand) started in 1995. It’s an honour for us that Dame Rosie Horton, a longtime advocate for the arts, and people with disability will be the host of the 20 Years of Arts Access Aotearoa – Celebration Lunch. Tickets are $55 and details are available on our website.  Please let Dawa know if you would like to come she will be in touch with all the information

AGM 2015

The Arts Access Aotearoa Annual General Meeting was held on the 22nd May at Alpha Art Gallery.Performance Report 2014 Being able to report on performance over the previous financial year is another tool to assess how we are doing. We were pleased to report on several areas of programme achievement and a surplus.  If you would like to see the full report it is available here. Under what used to be called the ‘Financial’ report is now called ‘Performance’ report. This is the new template required by the Charities Commission and Arts Access Aotearoa was an early adopter. Beyond the financials this new reporting system allows charities to report on measurable areas of value such as volunteer time and pro bono services, such as the legal service we gratefully receive from Chapman Tripp.

Rembrandt Remastered

An exciting exhibition has opened in Wellington that provides an opportunity for NZSL interpreted tours for Deaf art lovers. Rembrandt Remastered is a remarkable collection of digitally remastered life size paintings by Rembrandt. Because the works have been enhanced digitally, visitors to the exhibition can see what the original colours looked like when Rembrandt painted them almost 400 years ago. Congratulations to Boyd Klap who (along with John Dow) has brought the exhibition to Wellington, Auckland and elsewhere – and for helping to provide NZSL interpretation.

Please spread the word about these New Zealand Sign Interpreted tours by Theresa Cooper:

New Zealand Academy of Fine ArtsTheresa Cooper at Rembrandt Remastered

1 Queens Wharf, (inside the gates)

Sunday 21st June – 2-3PM

Saturday 27th June– 2-3PM

Thursday 2nd July 11am – 12pm

Booking required


Phone: 04 499 8807

Text:  027 7273870.

Tour numbers are limited to 10 people at a time.

Visit Rembrandt Remasterd NZ Tour for more details.

If you have any questions or feedback on this column, or if you would like to let me know about your art, organisation, group or project please email me on

20th Anniversary of Arts Access Aotearoa


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