20 Jul 2011
Sign language and touch tours are just some of the initiatives which helped New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery win the inaugural Big ‘A’ Creative New Zealand Arts for All Award 2011.
Presenting the award at a ceremony in Parliament, Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright said, “engaging New Zealanders in the arts and ensuring they have access to great art experiences is a priority for us. This award sits at the heart of what Creative New Zealand wants to achieve”.
The award recognises an arts organisation that has gone to extraordinary lengths to become more accessible to the disabled community, and was one of five presented at the annual Big A awards organised by Arts Access Aotearoa.
The judging panel commented that the gallery was a fine example of an arts organisation developing its audience by increasing access. Its commitment was underpinned by the New Plymouth District Council’s Disability Strategy, which was regarded as an example of best practice.
Along with sign language and touch tours, regular staff disability awareness training, and large-print exhibition guides, the gallery has also redeveloped its website to make it more accessible for people with visual impairments or who have difficulty with motor skills.
Mr Wainwright said, “founding patron of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Monica Brewster is described as a futurist who believed in openness, individuality, and freedom of expression. I am sure she would have been proud of the efforts made by the gallery and council to remove barriers to people enjoying art.”
The other finalist was Wellington-based Odd Socks Productions which develops visual performances and advises the arts sector about Deaf culture and New Zealand Sign Language.
The judges described Odd Socks as “a young, dynamic and innovative company creating a new form of theatre. Odd Socks have the potential to become leaders in ensuring artistic opportunities and access to the Deaf community, and building bridges between the Deaf and hearing communities in New Zealand”.