Dame Rosie Horton, Richard Benge and Philip Patston

Presenting the Arts Access Awards each year provides a new opportunity to survey so much that has happened in the arts access sector over the past year. After a steep climb it’s like a view from a mountain top.

To bring forward the achievements of artists, organisations, venues and producers who have achieved and excelled and made the arts more accessible and inclusive is a six-month process. It starts with strong nominations (thank you to the people who made them), followed by the difficult task of judging the work and achievements.

Judging panels

I get to be a judge on all three panels, which include previous recipients and industry experts. This year’s judges were accessibility consultant Alexia Pickering, Stephen Wainwright of Creative New Zealand, Christine Stevenson and Ellie Drummond of the Department of Corrections, Frances Kelliher of Circability Trust, Julie Woods (aka That Blind Woman) from Dunedin and Wayne Morris of New Plymouth.

Stephen Wainwright, Creative New Zealand, presents the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2014 to the New Zealand FestivalThe hard part is that there can be only one recipient. However, there is much pleasure in learning about the range of work and achievements from the nominations. As you look over the stories of this year’s recipients please think about artists, organisations, venues and producers who has achieved and made the arts accessible to a very high standard. With your nomination, perhaps you will see their story here this time next July.

Arts Access Aotearoa presented a new award this year. Unlike the other awards, it was not one that asked for nominations.

This was an award from Arts Access Aotearoa itself, acknowledging one person who over many years has worked with Arts Access Aotearoa and has been essential in supporting the organisation to achieve its vision – that all people in New Zealand will have access to the arts. We called the award the Arts Access Accolade.

Coming from the heart

Kendall Akhurst (Arts Access Aotearoa trustee and my co- compere at the awards) announced: “It’s the award that comes from the hearts of the staff and trustees of this organisation in recognition of the heart of the one person without whom, quite frankly, we cannot conceive of going about our work.”

Trophies designed by Robert RapsonWe were all delighted that this inaugural award has gone to Aucklander Philip Patston.

Philip was presented his Robert Rapson-designed Arts Access Accolade trophy by Dame Rosie Horton. She explained in her remarks that over many years, Philip has worked to establish acceptance of diversity, and has advocated for social change and inclusion. This has provided the bedrock for greater access to the arts.

You can learn about all the fantastic recipients of the Arts Access Awards, including those who were Highly Commended, in this August edition of In Touch. This webpage has links to seven feature stories about the recipients.

Hon Christopher Finlayson and Robert RapsonI hope you enjoy the news that Robert Rapson is the recipient of the Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award. Considerable media profile has followed this news for Robert. It caused an amusing conundrum! Hon Christopher Finlayson, who presented the award, concluded reading Robert’s career highlights and achievements by saying:

“There is one thing I need to add. Four years ago Robert was asked to design and create the unique and individual Arts Access Award trophies that you have seen presented tonight. What is just a bit funny is that this now means I’m about to present him with a trophy he has made himself!”

Laughter and applause followed.


View from the mountain top


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