• Marie Hasler
Cultural Affairs


Good evening everyone.

I am delighted to be here to host this special occasion for Arts Access Aotearoa and launch their publication- Expanding Horizons-Encouraging Creative Opportunities For People With Disabilities.

As Minister for Culture and Heritage and on a personal level, it is with pleasure I join with you all in celebrating the exciting examples of arts projects for people with disabilities, especially those featured in this publication.

The philosophy of providing access to the arts is one this Government recognised through the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 1994.

Arts Council support for "the availability of projects of merit to communities or sections of the population that would otherwise not have access to them" - is shown in many of the examples in this book.

The legislation has encouraged both projects with people with disabilities and the work of Arts Access Aotearoa.

Last year I visited the Dowse Art Museum's three exhibitions celebrating the visual arts of people in prisons, those with psychiatric disabilities, as well as young graffiti artists.

This was a most exciting and stimulating exhibition and led me to request a visit to Auckland West Prison. During this year I have made two visits to the prison and its arts project.

On the first occasion Arts Access Aotearoa's Chairman Warren Young and Director Penny Eames, accompanied me, and on the second occasion I spent some of the morning just being with the artists and talking to them about their work. I found the two meetings stimulating and was delighted with the professionalism and excellence of the arts programme.

I am sure Creative New Zealand and the many charitable trusts represented here today will also be inspired by what they see in the publication and continue to support projects for people with disability to gain access to the arts.

And this access takes many forms - in my own Waitakere electorate the recently held Treasures from Trash fashion parade is an annual highlight and I was fortunate to be present when the Onehunga CCS won their category in this show.

The importance of the arts to all New Zealanders cannot be overstated. Research shows that participation in the arts can result in improved self-esteem, self-awareness and social relationships. The arts also provide a meaningful use of time and develop creative, cognitive and physical skills.

The theme of Expanding Horizons, as the title suggests, shows people with disabilities have the same creative potential and need for expression as all others in the community.

As one artist comments in the book: Participating in arts activities...expands my world and allows me to keep in touch with current trends. It enables me to express myself in my own culture.

This publication aims to provide organisations and individuals with information, ideas and inspiration encouraging them to develop meaningful arts initiatives in which people with disabilities can participate and succeed.

We know people with disabilities may encounter difficulties in accessing the arts, it is also my hope that theatres, galleries and performance venues will work on making their environments accessible.

Communication, physical access, price, a lack of confidence and not knowing what is available are all issues some people face on a regular basis.

The organisations in this publication have worked positively with people with disabilities to overcome these and other barriers to develop forums for appropriate and meaningful arts expression.

The range of projects and on going programmes celebrated here is motivating.

Without doubt many organisations and individuals have been involved in bringing this project to fruition. It would be impossible to mention them all, but I would like to acknowledge the work of Ginny Haynes, author of Expanding Horizons and project coordinator for Arts Access Aotearoa.

I am pleased to acknowledge many important agencies that are well represented here tonight.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Disabled Persons Assembly, CCS, ACC, Head Injury Society, and Muscular Dystrophy are present, along with representatives from many other key agencies.

I also wish to welcome my Parliamentary colleagues, trustees and executive staff of charitable trusts, representatives of Creative New Zealand, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Human Rights and Mental Health commissioners and representatives from the many different organisations working in the disability sector.

We are also fortunate to have many of the artists with us this evening.

Sally Tucker is an artist at Your Studio Trust in Christchurch and she has travelled here with her family to attend this launch. Also from Christchurch, we have sculptor Karen Calder. Marianne from Able Art in Rotorua is present, as are writers from Come Tangle With Tigers And Tulips - a Creative Writing programme for women with disabilities in Porirua.

A warm welcome to you all and to the other artists and organisations present here tonight.

We have already been treated to some fine singing from Kylee Maloney and we have poetry to come from Leigh Montford and a theatrical piece from the Acting Up Theatre Company - just a flavour of the work being created through Expanding Horizons.

Thank you.

It is now my great pleasure to officially launch Expanding Horizons-Encouraging Creative Opportunities For People With Disabilities.