Auckland mayor applauds arts advocates
23 June 2013
Participants in a series of workshops on effective ways to advocate for improved access to arts and cultural events for people with disabilities or sensory impairments were recognised by Auckland Mayor Len Brown at a function in the Corbans Estate Arts Centre, Henderson on Saturday 22 June.
The Mayor presented the participants with certificates acknowledging they have completed five one-day workshops through the Arts Access Aotearoa Making a Difference Arts Advocacy Programme.
“Our arts and entertainment venues and cultural events need to be accessible for all people to enjoy,” the Mayor said. “I congratulate the Arts Access Aotearoa advocates for their efforts to make sure Auckland becomes a more inclusive city.”
Between March and June, the group met at five of Auckland’s key arts organisations and venues: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Aotea Centre, Auckland Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) and Corbans Estate Arts Centre.
At each venue, staff hosted the visitors, conducted tours and listened to participants’ feedback about the venue’s accessibility. The workshops also included guest speakers and group discussions.
One of the participants, Ponsonby artist Allyson Hamblett, says the participants each have a “unique experience” of disability and come from varied backgrounds.
“Coming together and sharing our knowledge and experience has provided us with a powerful base to continue our advocacy,” Allyson says.
“We quickly worked out there is no single solution to improving access to the arts. The discussions we had at the workshop sessions were very meaningful and often, we weren’t quite ready to end them and go home.”
For participant Debra Bathgate, “passion gets you everywhere and much of what affects us on a personal level becomes the political issues of today. This was a powerful forum about advocating for access to the arts and we moved mountains.”
The workshops were presented by Arts Access Aotearoa with funding through the Ministry of Social Development’s Making a Difference Fund.
Richard Benge, Executive Director, Arts Access Aotearoa said that 2006 Census statistics show that one in every six New Zealanders (17%) identifies as having a disability.
“Disabled people can and should be able to participate in the arts as creators, audience members, and gallery and museum visitors,” he said. “These workshops have opened up possibilities for the participants to be effective advocates.”
Arts Access Aotearoa has established Arts For All networks in Wellington, Dunedin and New Plymouth. These networks, made up of representatives from the disability sector, arts organisations and venues, aim to improve access to the arts. They meet throughout the year to gain insights, seek advice, and share information and resources.
“We are looking forward to building on this work with the arts advocates and Auckland venues to establish an Arts For All network in Auckland,” Richard said.
The Ministry of Social Development's Making a Difference Fund supports communities to develop projects that mobilise change at a local level. The fund gives priority to projects that are collaborative, have support from across the community, and have a clear plan to effect local change.