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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 another year of COVID-19, which has brought challenges and change to our lives – particularly for Aucklanders. The way you have all kept going, finding different ways to connect and support each other through the arts, has been remarkable.

In this final blog for the year, some of Arts Access Aotearoa’s staff share a favourite image from the year. Enjoy!

Susan, a blind person holding an armful of braille and text programmes greets audience members as they enter the theatre. On the stage behind them is a ladder and a colourful pile of laundry. White captions on the black wall behind read Illegally blind

Stace Robertson: I chose this photo of performer Susan Williams greeting audience members as they enter the theatre for the opening performance of Illegally Blind at Bats Theatre. Susan asks, “Would you like a braille programme or do you require sighted access?” Illegally Blind is a brilliant example of a production led by disabled people. Everything about the show was designed with accessibility in mind: for Susan as the performer and for audience members. As a disabled person, it’s a rare treat for me to go to a show that is so welcoming and relatable. A funny, lovely, joyful, and sometimes challenging way to wrap up 2021.

Stace Robertson is the Access, Inclusion and Participation Advisor.

Jacob Dombroski and Arts Access Aotearoa Executive Director Richard Benge hosting Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2021 stand behind two lecterns at Te Papa. They are laughing and behind them is the orange logo of Arts Access Aotearoa

Richard Benge: I chose this photo of Jacob Dombroski and me at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2021 because it demonstrates an essential part of Arts Access Aotearoa’s purpose: to provide profile and advocacy for all people who face barriers to participation in the arts. Thanks, Jacob, for joining me (along with Beth Hill) as the MCs of our awards ceremony in Te Papa.

Richard Benge is the Executive Director of Arts Access Aotearoa.

An artwork by Ken, a former Northland Region Corrections Facility prisoner. The image consists of interlocking hands and interlocking barbed wire, both drawn in blue biro, and newspaper, drawn in black and white, in the background

Chris Ulutupu: Arts Access Aotearoa and the Redemption Whānau acknowledge and thank Ken, the artist of this work, for his creativity and advocacy of the value of arts programmes in prisons. Ken was a Tuakana Teina mentor and artist during his time with the programme at Northland Region Corrections Facility. Ken donated many works to the local hospice and continued his art journey after he was released. He attributed his arts practice for his happiness and the positive decisions he made before release. Sadly, Ken died on 24 November 2021 and although I never met him, I’m glad he found comfort from his experiences and the friendships he made in the programme. His story is a sad one, but it also reminds us why we do what we do.
Chris Ulutupu is the Arts in Corrections Advisor.

A group of Pablos artists and staff standing outside Te Papa

Kate Hiatt: I chose this photo because it’s a celebration of whānau: the artists and the staff of Pablos Art Studio after they’d attended The Surrealists exhibition at Te Papa. It is joyful, it is proud. Pablos’ values – Hinengaro toi ora: Affirming identity through art – are apparent in everything they do. This year sure has been hard and yet, as always, creative spaces have found creative and inspirational ways to make it work for artists and participants.

Kate Hiatt is the Creative Spaces Advisor.

Some favourite images from 2021

 

 

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