Reflecting on 2020, we can’t go too far without acknowledging how the year was impacted by COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand and globally. I’d like to acknowledge our staff, my fellow trustees, funders and sponsors who helped us adjust (as we all did) to working remotely and keeping our service open and engaged for our stakeholders, particularly supporting people who are vulnerable to change, mental distress, disability and uncertainty.
Arts Access Aotearoa’s activities across the country would not be possible without the grants, donations and in-kind support we receive. We are very grateful for core funding from Creative New Zealand, a contract with Ara Poutama Aotearoa Department of Corrections, Oranga Tamariki and significant grants from Foundation North and Wellington City Council.
I recall that this time last year our annual general meeting was held as a Zoom meeting: it was a first for us. It did mean that many more people could attend our virtual meeting.
Many experienced hardship during the national lockdown and subsequent alert level disruptions. We were very proud of the way creative spaces used digital platforms to stay connected to their artists and communities during the lockdown.
Recognising the value and potential of creative spaces
I would especially like to thank Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and for Disability Issues, for recognising the value and potential of creative spaces.
This recognition has come via the Creative Spaces Initiative, an $18 million fund to be distributed by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage over the next three years.
In December 2020, Arts Access Aotearoa signed a contract to partner with the Ministry to provide an advisory and support service to assist the application process for the funding and then the reporting process for the recipients. The fund has now delivered to its first recipients and round two has just closed.
This initiative was a high note and significant milestone on which to end what was a challenging year.
25th anniversary celebrations
Now, to some highlights … We celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2020 in conjunction with Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards. We were able to reflect back using images from the early days and see how far we have come.
In Auckland, our advisor provided practical empowering support for creative spaces, particularly in governance, IT support and mapping the many creative spaces across the region.
In December, we delivered the Empowering Auckland’s Creative Spaces and Arts Programmes Strategic Plan 2021–2023. This was based on research and findings from a survey we conducted with 24 creative spaces and arts programmes in the Auckland region the previous year. This plan will drive our activity in Auckland over the next two years.
Uncertainty and safety concerns about COVID-19 alert levels meant that Arts Access Aotearoa decided to present the 2020 Awards as a pre-recorded digital event on 13 October. This was another first for the organisation and provided access for a much larger audience, who watched the event online. Between 13 October to 31 December 2020, the awards video was viewed more than 2000 times.
Arts in Corrections
We continued to deliver to our major contract with Corrections although delivery of programmes was interrupted by COVID 19. Our attention focused on supporting staff and artists, continuing to build the network of those who deliver the arts programmes and projects.
We provided strategic advocacy to the Department to help it deliver access to arts engagement under the Hōkai Rangi Strategy and deliver better outcomes for Māori.
We believe that consistent, culturally relevant arts participation across all of its prisons and Community Corrections sites are best delivered strategically and consistently, and that an ad hoc approach is not sustainable.
Our pilot programme with Oranga Tamariki to deliver arts engagement to two youth justice facilities was interrupted by COVID-19 uncertainties and its delivery was held over to 2021.
Arts For All Network
Arts For All Network members were supported remotely until we were able to meet in person towards the end of the year. Among the highlights was Audio Described Aotearoa’s response to the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s announcement in April that it would livestream videos of previous productions. In partnership with RNZB, it added audio described options to the ballet videos so that blind and low vision people around the world would have access to them.
In August, Arts Access Aotearoa contracted a part-time Policy Principal to provide policy development and advocacy. This role involves working with central Government, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ara Poutama Aotearoa Department of Corrections and Creative New Zealand.
We extend a big thank you to all the donors to our “$25 for 25 years” fundraising campaign, launched during Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2020. This fundraiser will become an annual feature alongside the awards. The result of our fundraising efforts and careful management of funds means we can report a small surplus for 2020.
Finally, my thanks to the Arts Access Aotearoa team: staff, volunteers, my fellow trustees and our kaumātua Bill Kaua for helping get us through a challenging but ultimately successful twenty-fifth anniversary year.
Dr Karen Webster, the Chair of Arts Access Aotearoa’s board, reported on 2020 at Arts Access Aotearoa's AGM on 21 May. You can read more about Arts Access Aotearoa's achievements in 2020