PĀNUI PĀPĀHO MEDIA RELEASE: Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival

Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival has curated the most extensive Access & Inclusion Programme to date, aligning with the festival’s commitment to ensuring everyone has access to extraordinary arts. 

For the duration of the festival, from 7 to 24 March, the Festival's Access & Inclusion offering has been designed to exemplify inclusivity. The Festival team have secured input from communities and consultants with lived experience to create a festival that welcomes everyone.

“Access for all is an AAF kaupapa. This means not only offering a huge range of opportunities for myriad accessibility needs but for me as a programmer, ensuring disabled artists have featured in all of the four Festivals under my tenure. 2024 is no exception.” says Artistic Director Shona McCullagh.

“This year we have three works featuring profound performers telling their own stories. Aiga by disability-led dance company Touch Compass, is a world premiere of a powerful and thought-provoking story of one of the country’s leading disabled dancers, Lusi Faiva. Spark Live from the Glass Ceiling Arts Collective showcases another incredible local company who are changing the way we think about accessibility and creativity with songstress/actor legend Jackie Clarke. We’re also proud to have locked in the world-renowned dance crew of differently abled dancers, ILL-Abilities, who will be making their Aotearoa debut as part of our festival too.” 

The 2024 festival caters to diverse needs with sensory relaxed shows, designed for those who benefit from a calmer theatre experience. Pre-show demonstrations of light, sound and action will be offered, along with show-specific resources to help prepare audiences with sensory needs. These initiatives are all designed to ensure the original essence of the festival performance can be enjoyed, such as the fire-breathing and aerial work in Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett.

For blind and low-vision audiences, Auckland Arts Festival offers audio-described performances in both English and te reo Māori, touch tours providing tactile interactions with set elements, and content available in braille, including the opening night sing-along show, Waiata Mai.

New Zealand Sign Language-interpreted performances will be a programme highlight, featuring trained interpreters and reserved seating to provide clear views of both the stage and the interpretation. Additionally, hearing loop events, braille song sheets, and large print materials in English and te reo Māori will help ensure a comprehensive and accessible experience for patrons.

World Down Syndrome Day on Thursday 21 March will be celebrated with a picnic in Aotea Square for audiences attending the festival’s Spark LIVE show at the Auckland Town Hall. Spark LIVE is a multisensory show for those with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). The wider celebrations unfolding across the square on the same day will feature food trucks, games, music therapy sessions with the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre, and an international campaign called Rock Your Socks with spot prizes for those in attendance. Rock Your Socks asks attendees to wear their most colourful, mismatched, and unique socks to celebrate the diversity of those with Down Syndrome and get people talking.

On Wednesday 20 March, a free access and inclusion panel discussion will bring together key creatives to talk about their experiences in creating process, how to hold accessible space, and insights into their journeys of telling disability stories. Moderated by Milly Hampton (Arts Access Aotearoa) and Tate Fountain (Auckland Arts Festival), the panelists include Lusi Faiva, creator and lead performer in Aiga, Moana Ete, director of Aiga, Charlotte Nightingale, writer/director of Spark LIVE, and Accessibility Advisor Katie Querin.

As Auckland Arts Festival gears up for its most inclusive edition yet, the Access & Inclusion Programme stands as a testament to the festival's commitment to making the arts accessible to all.

For further information about the Access & Inclusion programme, or for help booking tickets please feel welcome to email, text or call Eliza on access@aaf.co.nz or 022 306 2206.

Media contact

Siobhan Waterhouse on siobhan.waterhouse@aaf.co.nz or +64 22 126 4149

or Rebecca Hendl-Smith on rebecca.hendl-smith@aaf.co.nz or +64 274 666 921


Festival's biggest access and inclusion programme


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