Auckland Arts Festival's Accessible Programme

27th February 2017

Auckland Arts Festival logoComing up next week the 2017 the Auckland Arts Festival will open on Wednesday 8th of March. Over 19 days the Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) will present over 45 individual events, exhibitions and performances by artists and companies from Aotearoa and all around the world. There are both free and ticketed events and the programme is distributed across Auckland so the events are as accessible to different communities as possible.
This year’s programme has a heap of installations, live shows and exhibitions to suit a range of ages and interests and catering to diverse needs. We are absolutely blown away by how each year this dedicated team are expanding their accessible programming to include more NZSL translated and audio described performances, touch tours and introductory notes available prior to the event.
The programme this year is incredibly varied, and in particular with a number of installations and performances which specialise in providing rich visual or aural experiences, there are many opportunities for engagement from different communities.
We spoke with the team from AAF about what makes this year’s accessible programme so special. Here’s what they told us:
This year the Festival has two shows with audio descriptions –The Biggest, which is one for the blokes! And a lovely show called Lost At Sea, which is for kids 8 years plus.
We also have introductory notes for The Encounter, which is by its nature an exceptional audio experience that uses innovative binaural sound technology. We are offering a touch tour prior the performance on Sunday the 19th of March which should be a fantastic complement to the experience for patrons. At the touch tour blind and low vision patrons will meet the actor and gain a greater understanding of some of the props that make the sound effects live on stage during the performance.
This year we’ve have chosen a very visual work for providing notes on the sound elements for Deaf and hearing impaired patrons - Power Plant is an outdoor night-time walk-through installation at The Domain.
We’re also encouraging everyone to come to Horror, where the narrative is driven through the visual, rather than relying on any spoken word. We had initially planned to NZSLI the show and then learned there was no script! It has a soundscape but we know that the horror genre is a particular favourite with the Deaf and hearing impaired community and it promises to be an amazing visual experience, a beautiful set and gory special effects! It’s like a horror film in real life on stage! Deaf Club were really enthusiastic when we presented this show to them!
For NZSLI, we chose Shortland Street – The Musical as it’s a chance to show off one of our works in progress (part of the RAW programme) and let people get some insight into the rehearsal and development process – it’s something that you don’t often get a chance to see. Entry to the show is by koha (we understand price is often a barrier). Shortland Street was one of the first shows on TV to be captioned and so it was a perfect choice for us to Sign the staged version. It’s a near-sold out show and there are only a couple of tickets left for the NZSLI performance.
We are offering concession priced tickets to help remove price barriers. We also offer half price tickets for companions to audio descriptions.
The Festival is committed to making its programme as accessible as possible to different members of the community. We value all our audiences and we aim to make them feel welcome and comfortable. We are very serious about acknowledging and engaging with unique audience requirements, especially connected with accessibility. The 2017 programme includes performances that have NZSLI, and Audio Descriptions. We see this not only as broadening our reach, but also, in the case of children’s theatre, of encouraging new audiences.

Congratulations to the team from AAF for their commitment to accessibility- we’re looking forward to checking out some of these fantastic events.
You can find the full accessible programme here