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Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2021 celebrate diversity and arts

Actor Jacob Dombroski, one of the MCs with Richard Benge
Actor Jacob Dombroski, one of the MCs with Richard Benge, Executive Director, Arts Access Aotearoa, at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2021 Photo: Elias Rodriguez

An award-winning dancer, arts projects, a creative space nurturing mental health and wellbeing, a theatre company committed to accessibility, and leadership in delivering arts programmes in prisons were celebrated this week at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2021, presented by Arts Access Aotearoa at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.

Richard Benge, Executive Director, Arts Access Aotearoa, says the annual Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards celebrate the achievements and contributions of people and communities who provide pathways to mental health and wellbeing through the arts and creativity.

“Last year, like many people and organisations, we did things differently and held our first online awards ceremony,” Richard says. “This year’s event is live at Te Papa Tongarewa – another first – and a great venue to present our eight awards.”

And for the first time, the Arts Access Accolade will be presented to two individuals rather than the one. Lawrence Ereatara and Hone Fletcher, Principal Advisors at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, have worked together for many years and share a similar passion for their culture. They are both implementing the new Māori Pathways programme at the prison.

The two men have also worked with Arts Access Aotearoa over many years and are champions of prisoner rehabilitation and community reintegration through the use of tikanga and toi Māori.

The Arts Access Accolade is chosen by Arts Access Aotearoa’s staff and board. “Lawrence and Hone go above and beyond to pass on their deep knowledge and skills to the men in Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, to Arts Access Aotearoa and the wider Arts in Corrections community,” Richard says. “We are extremely grateful for their vision, commitment and generosity.”

This year, Arts Access Aotearoa also presented the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Media Award 2021 to Andre Chumko, a journalist with The Dominion Post and Stuff. “Andre demonstrates leadership and excellence in reporting about accessibility and inclusion in the arts – in prisons, the professional arts sector and in the community arts sector,” Richard says. “His work shines a light on the role of the arts in building a cohesive, engaged society.”

The six other recipients, selected by judging panels, are:

  • Lusi Faiva, Auckland, awarded the Arts Access PAK’nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award 2021, for her outstanding artistic achievements, and contributions to dance and the disabled community. Lusi brings an abundance of joy to her work and to her audiences, transforming perceptions about disability and carving out a space for other disabled Pasifika dancers.
  • Circa Theatre, Wellington, awarded the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2021, for its long-term commitment to becoming more accessible. The strong relationships it’s building with the Deaf and disabled communities is evident in the growing number of Deaf and disabled patrons attending its accessible shows (110 patrons associated with NZSL attended its Cinderella pantomime in December 2020).
  • Art-East, Christchurch, awarded the Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award 2021, for its rich mix of arts projects that empower its artists with alcohol or drug addiction issues, mental ill health, isolation and institutionalisation. Grounded in a Kaupapa Māori framework, its practice incorporates collaboration, innovation and inclusion.
  • Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and its Platform Programme, awarded theArts Access Manatū Taonga Community Arts Award 2021, for its outstanding programme with Christchurch Men’s Prison through the Pathway Trust. Its weekly classical music workshops with men in the prison’s Navigate Unit have had a profound impact on both the prisoners and the small group of CSO musicians.
  • Tipene Rangihuna (Pāpā T), Eastern Institute of Technology and Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, awarded the Arts Access Corrections Māui Tikitiki a Taranga Award 2021, for his leadership and commitment in passing on his knowledge and teaching te reo Māori to men in Hawkes Bay Regional Prison to create transformational change and strengthen te ao Māori.
  • Kyle Ellison and Pirika Taepa, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, awarded the Arts Access Corrections Whai Tikanga Award 2021, for incorporating tikanga and toi Māori into employment programmes (e.g. building model marae and decorating them with kowhaiwhai) and building a bridge between the prison and the community.

The annual Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards are the key national awards in New Zealand celebrating the achievements of individuals and organisations providing opportunities for people with limited access to engage with the arts as artists and audience members. They also recognise the achievements of an artist with a disability, sensory impairment or lived experience of mental illness.

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