Dionne Christian one of eight recognised for furthering access to art.

The Herald's arts and books editor, Dionne Christian, is the inaugural recipient of the Arts Access Media Award.

She was presented with the award at a ceremony hosted by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Maggie Barry, at Parliament last night.

Christian was one of eight recipients of awards made by Arts Access Aotearoa, an organisation that works to ensure all New Zealanders can participate in the visual and performing arts as creators and audience members. The award recognises leadership and excellence in reporting on accessibility in the arts.

Since joining the Herald in January, Christian has built up a portfolio which includes a feature series about the arts in Auckland as well as stories about theatre companies making it easier for the vision and hearing impaired to attend their productions, and programmes run by the Department of Corrections.


She says besides the obvious entertainment value, there are many social, cultural and economic benefits attached to the arts: "The arts open our eyes to the wider world, provide opportunities for self-expression, and foster tolerance and acceptance of other viewpoints. Stories about inclusion are important because I think everyone should have access to the arts."

Other award winners:

Glen McDonald, awarded the Arts Access Accolade for her work as co-ordinator of Vincents Art Workshop in Wellington and who has demonstrated a life-long passion for creativity, community and inclusion, and her contribution to the Wellington community.

Circability Central, Central Auckland, awarded the Arts Access Creative Space Award for its diverse circus activities where all members of the community can gain new social and physical skills in an inclusive space.

RoadSafe Hawke's Bay, awarded the Arts Access Corrections Community Award 2016, for its graphic design project with the Youth Unit in Hawke's Bay Regional Prison. Young offenders decided to be part of the solution and create resources focused on changing behaviour, attitudes and increasing knowledge around road safety.

Equal Voices Trust and partners University of Waikato, Deaf Aotearoa and Bill Hopkins, Hamilton, awarded the Arts Access CQ Hotels Wellington Community Partnership Award 2016, for a partnership between deaf and hearing communities resulting in a ground-breaking bilingual theatre work called Here At The End Of My Hands.

Chamber Music New Zealand, Wellington, awarded the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award for its commitment to developing new audiences for chamber music through its accessibility programme.

This includes audio described concerts for blind and partially sighted patrons, and workshops and relaxed concerts for people with intellectual disabilities.


David Cameron, Gisborne, awarded the Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award for his outstanding achievements and contribution to traditional and contemporary Mori arts.

Paraplegic and a wheelchair user since 1977, David is a recognised leather worker, painter, ceramist and tutor in uku (Mori clay ceramics).

Northland Region Corrections Facility, Kaikohe, Northland, awarded the Arts Access Corrections Leadership Award, for the breadth of its achievements, its education outreach, innovative practice, and focus on the arts and culture as a tool supporting prisoners' rehabilitation and reintegration into the community on release.

Richard Benge, executive director of Arts Access Aotearoa, says one in four people in New Zealand - more than one million - live with a disability or impairment.

"That's a lot of people, who all have the right to enjoy the arts as artists, participants, audience members and gallery visitors," he said.

"Tonight, we celebrate the achievements and contribution of people and communities who make Aotearoa New Zealand a rich, diverse and creative country."