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Royal New Zealand Ballet awarded for accessibility

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s commitment to making ballet accessible to diverse communities around New Zealand was recognised in Parliament tonight (subs: 6pm Wednesday 11 September) when it received the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2019.

Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019, held in the Banquet Hall of Parliament, celebrate the achievements of individuals and organisations providing opportunities for people with limited access to engage with the arts as artists and audience members.

Stephen Wainwright, Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand, applauded the RNZB’s ongoing commitment to improving its accessibility and engaging with diverse communities.

“The RNZB’s commitment to developing new audiences is a great example for other companies wishing to grow in this area,” he said. “Also impressive is its comprehensive accessibility policy and documentation of audience growth.”

Over the past 18 months, the RNZB has undertaken several initiatives to make ballet more affordable and accessible to everyone.

Initiatives include touch tours and audio described performances for blind and low vision patrons; relaxed performances for people with sensory, communication or learning impairments; a sign interpreted tour of the RNZB’s headquarters for Deaf people; free or low-cost events for children from low-decile schools; and workshops for women and men in Arohata and Rimutaka Prisons.

These initiatives, plus the provision of a free seat for companions of disabled ticket-holders, have resulted in an additional 5000 patrons who otherwise might not have been able to experience what the RNZB has to offer.

Pascale Parenteau, the RNZB’s Education and Community Manager, is the driving force behind its accessibility policy and programme,

“It means a huge amount to the dancers and our production team, who love sharing their work with such diverse audiences,” she said. “We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us make this vision a reality, especially the funders who support our programmes.”
The RNZB is a member of the Arts For All Wellington Network, facilitated by Arts Access Aotearoa. There are four other regional Arts For All Networks in Otago, Auckland, Taranaki and Canterbury.

Circa Theatre, also a member of the Arts For All Wellington Network, received a Highly Commended citation in the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2019 for its “efforts over time to increase its accessibility by providing relaxed, sign interpreted and audio described performances”.

The judging panel also commended Circa Theatre for the way it has “engaged with the Deaf and disabled communities, listened to feedback and introduced reduced ticket prices”.

Circa Theatre’s 2018/19 programme has included a touch tour and audio described performance of Puss in Boots – the Pantomime; an NZSL interpreted performance of Rants in the Dark; and an accessible performance of Still Life with Chickens.

Executive Director Richard Benge said the Arts For All Networks, which Arts Access Aotearoa established in 2011, had resulted in a significant increase in the number of accessible arts and cultural events in New Zealand.

One in four people in New Zealand – more than one million – live with a disability or impairment that impacts on their daily lives. “That’s a lot of people, who all have the right to enjoy the arts as artists, participants, audience members and gallery visitors,” Richard said.

“Tonight, we celebrate the achievements and contributions of people and communities who make Aotearoa New Zealand a rich, diverse and creative country.”

Arts Access Aotearoa receives core funding from Creative New Zealand.

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