The Timeliners entertain guests

4 March 2013

This is my third year of co-ordinating the Big ‘A’ Awards that Arts Access Aotearoa presents at Parliament each year. We start the process with a call out for nominations, then move on to the judging stage. All the while we’re planning the awards ceremony, contacting entertainers, speakers and presenters, recruiting our volunteer team, working closely with Parliament staff and our stage manager, and letting recipients know what to expect. Then the day of the Big ‘A’ Awards ceremony arrives when we host around 250 guests and recipients, entertained by our awesome performers. Lastly, we evaluate the event, looking at things that went well or could change for the following year.

It’s a big job for the whole team at Arts Access Aotearoa but well worth the effort when we can see the impact of the awards on the recipients, their whanau, artists and communities.

Pippa SandersonIn 2012, more than $41,000 of funding and prizes was received by creative spaces and other recipients of the Big ‘A’ Awards. There were also several intangible benefits, including media profile, promotion in front of MPs and other key stakeholders, and public recognition.

This year, we wanted to simplify the nominations process so it's easier for people to make nominations. The other change we've made is to the judging panel. For the first time, industry panels will be making the final decisions. Our Executive Director, Richard Benge, will sit on each panel.

With nominations closing on Friday 15 March, I encourage you to make your nominations. We also welcome self-nomination so please don’t be shy about nominating yourself. Just call me on 04 802 4349 or email me at of you have any questions or need some help.

Along with the financial benefits, there are also the benefits of profile, pride and recognition. Here’s what the 2012 recipients have to say:

Big ‘A’ Creative Space Award

“The impact of being a winner of the Big ‘A’ Creative Space Award is immense and complex. It has promoted our artists, our work, and our philosophies of inclusion and human justice in a spirit of celebration!” – Glen McDonald, Coordinator, Vincents Art Workshop

Big ‘A’ Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award

“WOMAD NZ’s involvement with Arts Access Aotearoa and receiving the Big ‘A’ Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award have been very beneficial in raising awareness and building networks with the disability sector. Personally, I found it very rewarding and it has led to new initiatives to support the Deaf community at WOMAD 2013.” – Chris Herlihy, Business Manager, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust

Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Leadership Award

“The Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Leadership Award was a valuable platform enabling me to build links with the community and the prison artists. Through stories about the award in newspapers, magazines and radio, these positive links have resulted in offers of support, materials for our art classes, and requests for prison artists to exhibit in spaces around Christchurch.” – Corina Hazlett, art tutor, Canterbury Prisons, and 2012 award recipient

Big ‘A’ Prison Arts Community Award

“Winning this award was a huge boost to our team of Quilt-Stitch volunteers who beaver away unheralded and unsung, often providing fabric and bling from their own supplies. Many travel considerable distances to attend our sessions. More importantly, the Friday & Saturday Girls were overjoyed that the results of their skills and artistry was acknowledged. The prizes and a donation were a huge surprise and enabled us to purchase much needed supplies to further our work. We were humbled and gratified to be singled out in this way.” – Mary Ann France, Quilt-Stitch volunteer

Big ‘A’ Community Partnership Award

“Receiving the Big ‘A’ CQ Hotels Wellington Community Partnership Award for 2012 was a humbling validation of our hard work and has helped raise the profile of all three partners throughout New Zealand. The advocacy of the great people at Arts Access Aotearoa, coupled with the prestige of being a Big ‘A’ Awards alumni, opened doors to further funding opportunities and has resulted in an enhanced programme delivery for 2013.” – Sarah Longbottom, Creative Director, Nga Rangatahi Toa Creative Arts

Big ‘A’ Artistic Achievement Award 2012

Sarah Houbolt, recipient of the Big ‘A’ Artistic Achievement Award 2012, was unable to provide a quote but you can read about her great achievements here

The impact of the Big A Awards


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