Arts Access Aotearoa Awards 2015
Dance doing its bit to increase access to arts for all
The 2015 Arts Access Aotearoa Awards, held on 1 July celebrated the outstanding achievements of artists, mentors and organisations that have helped increase access to the arts over the last year.
Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal Chief Executive, a musical pioneer of Samoan music, an innovative art space engaging with its local community, a vibrant group of Pacific women and prison arts leaders were amongst those recognised. The Awards acknowledge the contribution of individuals, groups and organisations in providing access to the arts. They also recognise the achievements and contribution of a New Zealand-based artist with a physical, sensory or intellectual impairment, or lived experience of mental ill-health.
Richard Benge, Executive Director for Arts Access Aotearoa said, ‘Tonight we celebrate the artists, producers, creative spaces, venues and leaders who provide access to the Arts for those of us who due to the randomness of impairment or circumstance would otherwise find it difficult or not possible to be included in or participate in the arts.’
While many of the individuals and organisations recognised were working in the field of visual arts, it was great to see dance also playing a part.
Wellington musician and disability advocate Pati Umaga received the 2015 Artistic Achievement Award recognising his outstanding achievements and contribution to empowering other people with disability to be involved with music and the arts.
Pati is a musical pioneer for Samoan music, both contemporary and traditional in NZ and has a long history of involvement in the arts. He has formed partnerships, working with a variety of people and organisations, to give back to the wider community. Earlier this year, Pati teamed up with Auckland’s PHAB Pasifika to make a music video celebrating dance for people of all abilities. The video features Siva (the Samoan word for dance), a song written and recorded by Pati Umaga, and PHAB Pasfika's inclusive dance troupe Pasifika PHusion.
Pati says, ‘The aim of the video is to break down stigma and stereotype surrounding disabled people, showing the public what disabled people are capable of. 'I was moved when I first saw these young people perform and was keen to take up any opportunity to work with them. In an industry that’s so image-focused, it will be interesting to see how people respond to the video.’
Michael Krammer from Christchurch's JOLT Dance was highly commended in the Artistic Achievement category. Michael was recognised for his passion and commitment as a dancer and tutor. He has overcome significant barriers to consistently perform over a long period of time and through his artistic achievement has given back to children with learning disabilities.
Arts Access Aotearoa's 20 Year Anniversary was also celebrated on the same day as the Arts Access Awards. Arts Access Aotearoa has advocated for people in New Zealand who experience barriers to participation in the arts, as both creators and audience members. It is also the key organisation in New Zealand facilitating the arts as a tool to support the rehabilitative process of prisoners. Hon. Maggie Barry, Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage, and host for the evening said, 'The vision that Arts Access Aotearoa was founded on two decades ago was that everyone has the right to be creative. Tonight we celebrate the success of some of the many people and organisations who are working throughout New Zealand to increase access to arts and culture.'