Stevie Wonder, who was presenting an award at this year's Grammys, took a moment to deliver a powerful message to a huge audience: "We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability."
For Arts Access Aotearoa, a major focus is to get arts cultural events, festivals, museums and galleries to ensure that people with disabilities or impairments have equal access to arts events as non-disabled people. In 2016, we should all be able to experience and enjoy art and cultural events without barriers.
A fantastic example of this happening right now can be found in the accessibility programmes planned by two leading festivals: the New Zealand Festival in Wellington (26 February to 20 March) and the Auckland Arts Festival (2 to 20 March).
In recent years, both festivals have been learning about the access needs of their audiences and making sure they know the accessibility features of their venues. They have gone the extra mile to provide audio description and NZSL interpreted productions, opening up experiences to Deaf and blind members of the community who would previously not have had the opportunity.
Hard work and commitment
Organising and marketing festivals the size of Auckland and Wellington takes a lot of hard work and commitment, so a big thanks to staff who have driven the accessible programmes in Auckland and Wellington. Please spread the word about these accessible events by telling anyone you know who would benefit from them.
Access to theatre for Deaf people had a major boost with the development of the show At the End of my Hands, which premiered in Hamilton last year and has also toured to BATS Theatre in Wellington and TAPAC in Auckland. This was all made possible with significant support from the New Zealand Sign Language Fund.
Director Laura Haughey, a British practitioner who relocated to New Zealand to teach theatre studies at the University of Waikato, worked with an ensemble cast of Deaf and hearing actors to explore the common ground we all share: a common humanity of emotions and experiences.
This company is one to watch and be supported so it can grow into something bigger. In the excellent Q and A session after each performance at BATS Theatre, a young Deaf man asked: “I would love to do theatre. Where can I go to do this?”
When Deaf theatre is devised and developed as an ensemble, Sign Language and spoken English can be seamlessly incorporated. Presented by Equal Voices Trust, it’s a welcome addition to work produced by Odd Socks Productions, and the Circability Trust and Giant Leap Foundation.
Creative Spaces 2020
Around the country, there are places providing access for people to create art – be it visual art, sculpture, crafts, theatre, dance, music, film or creative writing. Arts Access Aotearoa works with these creative spaces and is pleased to be organising a national conference called Creative Spaces 2020: building a strong future sector, will be held in Wellington from Tuesday evening 26 April to Thursday 28 April 2016. Thanks to the generous support of Creative New Zealand, the conference is free to attend. Places are limited to 70 due to venue capacity and free catering. The final date for registrations is Monday 4 April and I urge you to book now as places are filling up fast. For more information
The final news this month is the call for nominations to the Arts Access Awards 2016. There are six categories and this is your chance to play a part in recognising New Zealand’s leaders in access to the arts. Without a nomination, they cannot be considered.