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New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has been awarded the inaugural Big ‘A’ Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award in recognition of its work in becoming more accessible to the disabled community.
The award was presented yesterday (20 July) at the Arts Access Aotearoa Big ‘A’ Awards 2011, which were hosted by the Hon. Christopher Finlayson, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, in the Banquet Hall of Parliament, Wellington.
The annual Arts Access Aotearoa Big ‘A’ Awards are the only national awards in New Zealand celebrating the outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations providing opportunities for people with limited access to engage with the arts as artists and audience members.
New Plymouth District Mayor Harry Duynhoven says that it is an honour for the Govett-Brewster to receive this significant award.
“Local authorities, through the services they provide, have a major part to play in reducing barriers in our communities for people with disabilities,” he says.
“The Govett-Brewster has been working within the three strategic goals of the Council’s Disability Strategy and is making a great contribution towards making the New Plymouth District more inclusive and accessible for all.”
Gallery Director Rhana Devenport is delighted that the gallery has been recognised for the work undertaken so far.
“We believe there should be no barrier to inspiring and meaningful experiences with art,” she says. “Our recent website redevelopment put accessibility at the forefront and we will continue to innovate to ensure that our exhibitions and public events are open for all and are accessible to the disabilities community, which comprises one in five people in our population.”
In presenting the award, Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright said that engaging New Zealanders in the arts and ensuring they have access to great art experiences is a priority for Creative New Zealand, and this award is at the heart of what they aim to achieve.
“In 1952 a recently widowed Monica Brewster decided to dedicate herself more fully to the cultural life of her hometown, New Plymouth. Described as a ‘futurist’, she believed in openness and individuality, choice and freedom of expression. As founding patron of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, she would be proud of the efforts the gallery and local council have taken to ensure art is accessible to as many people as possible,” said Mr Wainwright.
In awarding the Govett-Brewster, the judges said: “We commend all the organisations nominated in this award for taking first steps in becoming more accessible to the disabled community. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s commitment to accessibility is underpinned by the New Plymouth District Council’s Disability Strategy – an example of best practice that gave the Govett-Brewster the edge. Along with sign language and touch tours, staff disability awareness training and large-print exhibition guides, the focus in 2010 was in redeveloping its website to optimise its accessibility. This nomination was a fine example of an arts organisation developing its audience by increasing access, and we look forward to seeing the next steps on its journey to accessibility.”
The New Plymouth District Council Disability Strategy has three goals:
The recipients of the 2011 Big ‘A’ Awards were selected by a panel of judges comprising JOLT Dance Artistic Director Lyn Cotton, Department of Corrections’ Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services Assistant General Manager David Wales, Diversityworks Trust’s Philip Patston, Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright, and Arts Access Aotearoa Executive Director Richard Benge.