It is my pleasure to welcome you all to Parliament this evening for Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019, our annual opportunity to celebrate the many ways people and organisations are making the arts more accessible to New Zealanders.
Tonight’s awards will celebrate important developments in accessibility in several creative sectors.
I know Minister Sepuloni would want me to highlight one sector that she has taken a personal interest in recently, that being the creative spaces sector, which comprises diverse community spaces where people can be creative and make art in an empowering and inclusive environment.
A strong advocate
Arts Access Aotearoa has been a strong advocate for a deeper appreciation of the value this sector offers, particularly for people with disabilities and mental health issues, to improve their wellbeing though participation in the arts.
Last year Minister Sepuloni asked the Ministry for Culture and Heritage to provide her with more information about this important sector. A survey was conducted and the findings were released in July in a report called Understanding the Value of Creative Spaces.
Strikingly, all of the survey respondents listed benefits for their clients including increased confidence, improved wellbeing, enhanced creative skills, better self-esteem, and a sense of belonging.
The report also identified some challenges and barriers within the sector, and we look forward to seeing new ways to overcome these.
A small organisation with a big mandate
Arts Access Aotearoa is a small organisation with a big mandate. And like many successful cultural organisations, it achieves a great deal by working collaboratively with others.
As Minister of Corrections, I know that Arts Access Aotearoa works with the Department to play an important role in engaging prisoners with the benefits of arts in rehabilitation.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting Minister Sepuloni at Northland Region Corrections Facility.
This prison delivers what is considered to be the benchmark for rehabilitation and reintegration arts programmes in New Zealand and it was fantastic to be able to show her first-hand the transformative power of the arts for New Zealanders in corrections facilities.
I look forward to presenting the two Corrections awards later this evening.
Another area where Arts Access Aotearoa is forging successful collaborations is in partnership with Creative New Zealand on the nationwide ‘Arts For All’ network. This initiative sees performing arts companies, venues, producers and artists working together with representatives from the disability sector to share their knowledge and expertise and improve their accessibility.
Importance of strategic accessibility plans
An important step for all arts and cultural organisations is to establish strategic accessibility plans to measure and increase their accessibility. The Creative New Zealand Arts for All Award this evening will be received by a leading arts organisation that has demonstrated leadership in strategic planning and action, making their productions more accessible for people with disabilities.
I’m pleased that we have a platform like the Arts Access Awards to acknowledge some of the fantastic work being done in this sector. Of course, such events are dependent on support, and this year’s awards are bolstered by two generous families who are here with us this evening.
I’d like to welcome Merrill and John Holdsworth and thank you for your support of the Creative Space Award. I also thank the O’Sullivan family through Pak ‘n’ Save Petone and Hutt City for your continued support of the Artistic Achievement Award. Through your generous support of these two awards you are helping the recipients to continue the amazing mahi they are doing and also helping Arts Access Aotearoa to promote their stories and achievements.
Community art sector
It’s exciting to see a new award presented this year, and I thank Creative New Zealand for supporting the inaugural Community Arts Award. So many achievements in arts accessibility and inclusion are created through the community arts sector as we seek to develop vibrant and strong communities.
Arts Access Aotearoa connects people and organisations so they can share their knowledge and innovative practice. It also adds value to the social and community goals of central and local government agencies and community organisations.
My congratulations to Arts Access Aotearoa for the stellar work it is doing and to all those nominated for awards tonight – thank you, the work you do touches the lives of so many New Zealanders.