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Tonight’s Arts Access Awards are a celebration of the power of art to change lives and bring joy and fulfilment to all New Zealanders, Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry and Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner say.

“These awards are all about recognising the many different people who work tirelessly to open up the experience of creativity to New Zealanders with disabilities, and are a true celebration of the transformative power of the arts,” Ms Barry says.

“They celebrate the outstanding achievements of New Zealand artists who may have a disability such as sensory or intellectual impairment, or mental illness.”

Presented in Parliament’s Grand Hall, the awards have also marked the 10th anniversary of New Zealand Sign Language gaining official language status.

“In 2015, Arts Access presented an impressive 33 audio described and 18 sign interpreted arts and cultural events throughout New Zealand. It is used daily by more than 24,000 Kiwis and it is an important part of our rich cultural diversity,” Ms Wagner says.

“Arts Access is important because it provides an opportunity for disabled people to develop and connect with the arts in an inclusive and creative environment. These awards recognise the great value of increasing access to the arts for disabled people, their families and their communities.”

Funded through Creative New Zealand, Arts Access Aotearoa helps run five Arts For All networks around the country which encourage performing arts companies, galleries, museums and venues to include sign interpreted performances and tours, as well as audio description for people who are blind or partially sighted.

The organisation also has a contract with the Department of Corrections to advise on its arts programmes, helping rehabilitation through art.

“Our congratulations go to all the award winners – together you help enrich our culture and our country and make our arts inclusive and accessible,” Ms Barry and Ms Wagner say.

Award winners

Glen McDonald, Co-ordinator of Vincents Art Workshop, Wellington, receives the Arts Access Accolade in recognition of his life-long work for creativity, community and inclusion, and her contribution to the Wellington community.

The inaugural Arts Access Media Award to acknowledge the media’s role in promoting a creative, inclusive society was presented to Dionne Christian, Arts and Books Editor at the New Zealand Herald, to recognise leadership and excellence in reporting on accessibility and the arts.

Circability Central, Central Auckland, the Arts Access Creative Space Award

RoadSafe Hawkes Bay, the Arts Access Corrections Community Award

Equal Voices Trust and partners University of Waikato, Deaf Aotearoa and Bill Hopkins, Hamilton, the Arts Access CQ Hotels Wellington Community Partnership Award

Chamber Music New Zealand, Wellington, the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award

David Cameron, Gisborne, the Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award

Northland Region Corrections Facility, Kaikohe, Northland, the Arts Access Corrections Leadership Award

Highly commended certificates

Awhi Tautoko, Community Corrections, Whangarei, Arts Access Corrections Community Award 2016

Jolt Dance and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Arts Access CQ Hotels Wellington Community Partnership Award

Arohata Prison, Tawa, Wellington, Arts Access Corrections Leadership Award

Puna Tatari Special Treatment Unit, Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Te Kauwhata, Waikato, Arts Access Corrections Leadership Award.


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