Celebrating creative spaces and their artists at the AGM 2015
12 June 2015
“Arts Access Aotearoa is committed to developing the capacity and longevity of creative spaces everywhere, as they continually face challenges,” said Richard Benge, Executive Director, at the organisation’s annual general meeting last week.
He stressed that sustainability of creative spaces will be an ongoing theme for Arts Access Aotearoa. Continued mentor leadership programmes will help the next generation of staff to lead the way forward.
Richard acknowledged the importance of the Making a Difference Fund that has enabled Arts Access Aotearoa to outreach to disabled artists and advocates, helping them to gain more opportunities and visibility.
“We passionately believe the voice for accessibility to the arts has to come from people with access needs themselves. These communities of people need their voices to be heard to ensure the future of accessibility to the arts”, Richard said.
“But many of these people from the community haven’t had much training in advocacy so we are working with them to explore what advocacy is”.
Richard said a major challenge for the not-for-profit sector is encouraging private funders to donate to charitable organisations. The ‘Awesome Arts Access Auction’ (2014) was an example of private partnerships with support from CQ Hotels Wellington, raising money to help Arts Access Aotearoa continue funding their mentor and advocacy programmes.
Highlights in 2014
Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees Howard Fancy spoke about the year’s highlights and praised the ‘I’m an Artist’ campaign which was organised in five cities across the country.
“It demonstrates to New Zealand how much creativity exists and how it can be expressed in ways that weren’t possible in the past”.
Additional funding through Creative New Zealand made the publication of the second edition of the Arts for All guide possible, proving it to be a very practical accessibility resource.
This is designed for live performance venue managers, producers and festival organisers through to museum and art gallery directors to increase accessibility.
Howard Fancy thanked core funder Creative New Zealand and the Department of Corrections. He also acknowledged HQ Hotels Wellington for their support and access to their facilities, giving special mention to the successful Awesome Arts Access Auction held last year in October.
Celebrating Creative Spaces artists
To conclude the annual general meeting, Eryn Gribble, art facilitator and community support worker, gave a presentation about her work at Alpha Art Gallery and Studio and the artists she supports.
“I love the variety of my job, every day is different and I get to spend time with a really rad bunch of people and support their creative careers,” Eryn said. “It’s important to understand that what we do here is not art therapy. The artists who use this service are fully fledged artists in their own right and they should be respected as such.”
Alpha Art Gallery and Studio is a creative space for adults with intellectual disability and are funded by Idea Services, a branch of IHC.
Eryn explains how the projects and programmes the studio offers are driven by the wants and needs of Alpha’s artists. Artists are supported in any direction they would like to pursue their art. Or in Murray Wylie’s case, Eryn taught him how to use his camera, which led his artwork in new directions.
“But Alpha also encourages personal development by offering activities like literacy and numeracy initiatives, sign language, cooking classes and sports,” Eryn said.
“I believe as humans we are all born innately creative and community is our most natural structure for a sense of belonging. So when community and creativity joins together it can be a really powerful vehicle for change, on a personal and broader level,” she said.
Support workers first, arts facilitators second, Alpha’s staff have now created a gallery space within the studios.
“Our vision for this gallery is for it to be a learning and training facility, to provide income for our artists and a platform for them to showcase their work,” Eryn said.
The gallery is also available for hire to the public.
The current exhibition “Where the wild things grow” showcases photographic works by Debbie Porter, Cole Zeal, Helena de Kok and Alpha Art Studio’s Denise Dennehy. It runs until 18 June.