Photo credit: @jinkic on Instagram / Jinki Cambronero

Winds of change are blowing through Aotearoa and the formation of a new government is in progress. When the winds settle, Arts Access Aotearoa will continue to advocate to politicians about the value and importance of the arts – and of everyone having access to them.

There’s huge power in collective advocacy, demonstrated earlier this year when a strong voice influenced the Auckland Council’s proposed arts cuts to its annual budget for 2023/2024.

Arts Access Aotearoa staff members recently joined an online wānanga calling for a national strategy for arts, creativity and culture, to be developed with the newly elected government.

The Regional Arts Network of Aotearoa and Te Taumata Toi-a-Iwi are driving the development of this much-needed strategy. They say it will “provide a map for intentional development and investment”; help inform decisions about key issues such as education and sustainable career pathways; and guide government, local government, philanthropic and corporate investment about where they can have the most impact.

This leadership and collective action is greatly appreciated. Arts Access Aotearoa supports this kaupapa and staff at the wānanga advocated for accessibility across all areas of the planned strategy.

Stimulated, challenged and inspired

Arts Access Aotearoa staff attended Creative New Zealand’s Nui te Kōrero 2023, its biennial conference held this year in New Plymouth. They were stimulated, challenged and inspired by the keynote speakers and panel discussions. The themes of the conference were Collective transformation; Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi; and Tuakana-Teina.

At the conference, Arts Access Aotearoa’s Lead Accessibility Advisor, Stace Robertson, also a ceramic artist, shared a panel discussion with Touch Compass dancer Rodney Bell and Rāhera Turner of Equal Voices Arts about disability arts, culture and working together to make collective change.

Stace spoke about his advocacy mahi with Arts Access Aotearoa. As someone with a less visible disability, he said, he’s able to move into spaces where some other disabled people may be excluded because of barriers. He’s been able use that to influence change and challenge the status quo.

"We are part of this community and we want space"

“Change happens just through being able to show up – through being in the space,” he said. “It's about being comfortable to say 'we are part of this community and we want space and we want to be present’.”

I’m pleased to announce that Arts Access Aotearoa is now calling for applications to Ngā Toi Rangatira o Aotearoa Arts Access Fellowships 2023, following the success of the inaugural fellowships in 2022. The deadline for applications is 5pm Monday 20 November. Please visit our website for more information.

The four fellowships, worth $10,000 each, give the recipients financial support to create or develop an arts project or new work.

The fellowships are:

  • Whakahoa Kaitoi Whanaketanga Creative New Zealand Artist Fellowship: supporting a Deaf or disabled artist, or an artist who has a disability or impairment, or an artist with lived experience of mental distress to undertake a project that will develop their art practice.
  • Whakahoa Kaitoi i Te Ara Poutama Arts in Corrections Artist Fellowship: supporting an artist who is living in the community and is/has been in the criminal justice system to develop their art practice. The focus of this fellowship is to create and document new work or build on previous work, with the support of an arts mentor.
  • Whakahoa Whakawatea Kaitoi Tangata Holdsworth Creative Spaces Fellowship: supporting a facilitator/tutor-led project that involves artists within a creative space working collaboratively. Accessibility will be built into the creation and/or presentation of new or existing work.
  • Whakahoa Kaitoi Te Puna Toi Arts For All Fellowship: supporting an individual to research or develop an area of accessibility that will increase access for Deaf and/or disabled people. You must be working in or with an arts company or organisation that is a member of the Arts For All Network, facilitated by Arts Access Aotearoa.

Over the year, I’ve been fortunate to meet the 2022 recipients and see the completion of excellent projects that have all contributed to increased accessibility in the arts. I invite you to watch the following videos that capture the projects and the sense of pride felt by those involved.

  • Salā Roseanne Leota, a Kāpiti Coast writer, talks about Home Ground, family and her project
  • Charlotte Nightingale of Warkworth, Auckland talks about creating Spark, a multisensory theatre work for audiences with PMLD
  • Magenta Creative Space in Nelson celebrates an exhibition of work by rangatahi, With the support of a mentor, art tutor and artist Samara Davis

I’m looking forward to viewing the installation by Ari Kerssens and Tash van Schaardenburg in the new year.




Power of collective arts advocacy


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