Auckland's Accessible Art

An image of the access and inclusion information availablefor the Auckland Arts Festival This year's Auckland Arts Festival is doing all they can to make the event as accessible as possible. 15 of their events are being offered in accessible ways – a significant increase from last year.

Relaxed performances are available for people with autism or other sensory disorders; touch tours for those who are blind or have limited vision; and NZSL translated

performances for people who are Deaf. And to top it off, the have also introduced a discounted Accessible Programme ticket of $20 each for a patron with an access need and a companion.

The idea to create an accessible programme came from Programme Administrator Helen Winskill and Creative Learning and Community Engagement Manager Marama Lloydd.

"Being more inclusive is a sign of the times and it feels like we’re part of something global. This year, we’ve made a significant investment in time, energy and passion, so we would love to see all the events really well-attended," says Marama.

Helen and Marama prepared for this by engaging with various community groups to fully understand exactly what they wanted to experience. They presented the festival programme to the blind and Deaf communities to find out which shows they wanted audio described and sign interpreted. They even made sure they used appropriate language and accessible formats of communication, such as large print documents and NZSL videos.

People with access needs can also book their tickets in-house, so they can speak face-to-face with a staff member and properly communicate their needs. This also eliminates booking fees.

The Accessible Programme was driven by the Festival Chief Executive David Inns and Artistic Director Jonathan Bielski. This will be Jonathan’s inaugural Auckland Arts Festival, and he has high hopes for the event.

"I want it to be as diverse and dynamic as what I see on the streets of Auckland. We will celebrate contemporary, cosmopolitan Auckland and its many communities, and we invite everyone to come along and be entertained, inspired, provoked and – most importantly – included".

"My philosophy about the role of the arts is simple: they make our lives better. I believe everyone should have access to the arts and I believe this festival is providing something for everyone."