As we head towards the summer break, Arts Access Aotearoa hopes you can all relax and replenish yourselves with whānau and friends. It’s been yet another year of COVID-19, which has brought challenges and change to our lives. The way you have all kept going, finding different ways to connect and support each other through the arts, continues to be remarkable.
In this final blog for the year, I’ve chosen images that reflect significant milestones on the road to Deaf and disabled people being included in the arts and culture in Aotearoa – as artists and audience members. This is what it feels and looks like.
ELECTRIC: Jolt and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra collaborated in The Seasons, presented and toured by Chamber Music New Zealand. When I saw the Wellington performance, I knew I was witnessing an example of what the future of inclusive arts could be like as I watched this electric and moving collaboration. Photos: Helen Oakes
CONVERSATIONS: Significant conversations are happening where disabled people are being heard, defining the future for disabled people’s access and inclusion in the arts. The conversation at Ngā Wāhi Auaha Creative Spaces Conference 2022 between Erin Gough, Wellington disability activist, and Caroline Bowditch, Artistic Director of Arts Access Victoria, is a benchmark from which to measure future progress.
NETWORKING: Creative spaces around the country, including Cultural Conversations in Nelson, gathered together after a day of online listening, learning and participating in Ngā Wāhi Auaha Creative Spaces Conference 2022, held on 1 and 2 November and organised by Arts Access Aotearoa.
CONNECTION: It’s always a joy to watch an Equal Voices performance, where two languages – English and New Zealand Sign Language – walk hand-in-hand on the stage. In this show, Where Our Shadows Meet, the two languages collide and connect on the Circa Theatre stage in early 2022. Photo: Michael Smith
CELEBRATING: Artists of Aotearoa were represented in the ground-breaking Alter State in Melbourne, a major disability arts festival celebrating contemporary art and live performance by artists from Australia and Aotearoa. Rodney Bell performed Meremere and also took part in a panel discussion with Caroline Bowditch and others.
WHAKAIRO: Men in Auckland Prison, with the support of staff, have worked tirelessly over the past year to revive the whakairo whare in the prison’s special treatment unit. It’s great that whakairo has continued despite the impact of COVID-19 on prisons throughout Aotearoa - great too that the men themselves have driven this revival. Photo: Alta van Wyk, Ara Poutama Aotearoa