Investing in the arts for everyone in Aotearoa is the theme of the Chair and Executive Director’s report on 2022, summarising the achievements of the people we work with and of Arts Access Aotearoa.

The report will be presented at our annual general meeting on Friday 26 May and we’re looking forward to the highlight of the evening: a presentation by Huia O'Sullivan (Te Atiawa ki Taranaki), Executive Director of Ngā Rangatahi Toa. Huia will be talking about “Wellbeing through Te Ao Māori” and its impact on the rangatahi who participate in Ngā Rangatahi Toa’s theatre programmes. If you would like to attend our AGM, please visit our website and RSVP or call 04 802 4349.

One of the achievements in 2022 belongs with the members of the Arts For All Network. Collectively, they provided at least 220 accessible events and services last year. That’s impressive and I’m grateful to everyone for their ongoing commitment throughout the challenges of 2022 and beyond.

The Arts For All Network, facilitated by Arts Access Aotearoa, activates the arts sector, including festivals, artists, performing arts companies, literary organisations, museums, galleries, venues and producers, to improve their access to Deaf and disabled artists and audiences.

Vital to the success of the Network

Representatives from the disability sector are vital to the success of the Network, and members can share insights, information and resources; ask questions; and get advice.

Before COVID-19, we focused on building regional networks in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. But then, COVID-19 opened up online possibilities and anyone interested in improving their accessibility to the arts could join our Zoom hui.

Last month, our website developers, Flightdec, did a great job providing an interactive Arts For All map. One click gives you the list of individuals and organisations within each regional network. All 15 regions have access to the Network. They can participate in our online forums and hui, and be part of a national group committed to improving accessibility.

Take a look at the Arts For All map

We are now in the process of populating the map, and invite you to take a look at the map and let us know if you would like to include your organisation (or yourself if you aren’t part of an organisation). This means you will receive invitations to Network hui and forums..

In March, I wrote a blog called Funding arts champions to drive change where I highlighted the work of Nicola Owen of Audio Described Aotearoa. In an email to us this week, Nicola wrote: “We're having such a busy year, with audio description taking off like never before.”

This past weekend in Auckland, Nicola facilitated a hui to train Māori and Pacific audio describers, and blind consultants. And next Saturday, 27 May, she’ll be in Dunedin providing an audio described tour for blind and low vision visitors of the exhibition Robin White: Te Whanaketanga / Something is Happening Here, on at Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Find out more about the audio described tour

This coincides with the Arts For All Otago Network hui at the DPAG, starting at 10am on Friday 26 May. Members will be able to enjoy a presentation by Nicola Owen and an audio described tour of the Robin White exhibition.

Also on Nicola’s hectic calendar is the audio description of We Will Rock You in New Plymouth and of Hamilton the Musical in Auckland – to name just a couple.

Relaxed performances

As part of the New Zealand Comedy Festival, Auckland writer and comedian Abby Howells presented a relaxed performance of her one-woman show, La Soupco, at BATS Theatre in Wellington. There will also be a relaxed performance at Basement Theatre in Auckland on Saturday 27 May.

In the show, Abby talks about her autism diagnosis last year, interspersed with delivering the screenplay she wrote in a notebook at the age of eleven – described in promotional material as “a nautical romance, set in the wake of World War II”. Abby says 30 people attended what was her first relaxed performance at BATS. “We had a great time. It was really special for me to be able to talk about my experiences to a room full of people I knew would understand.”

NZSL Week 2023 ran from 8 to 14 May and I was pleased to attend the annual breakfast at Parliament, hosted by Deaf Aotearoa.  Earlier, in April, Arts Access Aotearoa staff took part in an awesome a Deaf awareness workshop, delivered in our office by Equal Voices Arts’ Rāhera Turner, company manager and New Zealand Sign Language consultant, and Laura Haughey, artistic director.

Changing the arts landscape

Thanks to a grant through the Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Innovation Fund, Equal Voices Arts aims to change the arts landscape of Aotearoa so we welcome and celebrate Deaf culture, artists and audiences. Read more about the grant

We are very pleased to administer the Manatū Taonga grant on behalf of Equal Voices Arts and support its ground-breaking work to change Aotearoa’s arts landscape.

I am sad but grateful to conclude with a link to the blog I wrote in honour of our deeply respected friend and mentor Dame Rosie Horton, who passed away in Auckland on 14 May. Rosie was the Patron of our Arts Access Accolade and as such, she raised the profile of all recipients. Her encouragement of our work and passion for accessible arts will be remembered and will continue to motivate us. We send our aroha to Rosie’s husband Michael and all her family. 



Expanding access to the arts


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