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Children’s theatre company awarded for accessibility

Kelly Hodgins, NZSL interpreter, interprets Greedy Cat Photo: David Rowland
Tim Bray and Gail Rotherham, Tim Bray Theatre Company
Testing the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's listening device
“This award means so much to our entire team because access is an everyday discussion with us," says Tim Bray.


Tim Bray Theatre Company of Auckland, a pioneer in providing access to theatre for Deaf and disabled children, was recognised on Tuesday 13 October when it received the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2020.  

The company received $4000, to be used on an accessibility initiative or programme.

Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2020, presented online by Arts Access Aotearoa for the first time, celebrate the achievements of individuals and organisations providing opportunities for people with limited access to engage with the arts as artists and audience members.

Stephen Wainwright, Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand, applauded Tim Bray Theatre Company’s long-term commitment to accessibility, care and attention to detail, and generosity in sharing its knowledge with others.

"Outstanding pioneering work in making theatre more accessible"
“Huge congratulations to Tim Bray Theatre Company for their outstanding pioneering work in making theatre more accessible to disabled children and their families,” he said. “Underpinning the company’s achievement is their impressive accessibility policy that guides its work. Thanks to the company’s innovative programming and use of technology, a wide range of children who would have otherwise missed out on theatre shows are now included.”

The company’s Artistic Director, Tim Bray, says accessibility has always been the organisation’s driving force. “This award means so much to our entire team because access is an everyday discussion with us. It’s also an amazing acknowledgement of the suppliers and partners of our arts access programmes over the years.”

Tim Bray Theatre Company has led the way in providing access, starting in 2004 with NZSL interpreted theatre performances. It’s also provided touch tours and audio described performances since 2015 and sensory-relaxed performances since 2019. At least two of its shows each season are audio described and at least two are NZSL-interpreted.

Looking to the future, Tim says, “Next year is our 30th birthday – a remarkable achievement for a theatre company, let alone one dedicated to work for children. We are aiming to celebrate this with the establishment of an endowment fund that will assist us with long-term sustainability.”

Highly Commended to Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra received a Highly Commended citation in the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award 2020 for its “creative use of technology to make its music more accessible to autistic people”.

With the support of audio company Phonak and a private donor, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra invested in specialist equipment that allows patrons to moderate the volume of an orchestral concert: for example, autistic people who would otherwise find the noise level of an orchestra performance too overwhelming are able to modify it to suit themselves.

A “feed” of the music being played by the orchestra is sent from the sound engineer’s desk to the device, and the wearer, who listens to the music via headphones, can then use a remote control to adjust the volume to the level they prefer.

Members of the Arts For All Auckland Network
Both organisations are members of the Arts For All Auckland Network, facilitated by Arts Access Aotearoa. Executive Director Richard Benge said the national Arts For All Network was established in 2011 and now has six regional networks.

“Since 2011, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of accessible arts and cultural events in New Zealand,” he said. “One in four people in New Zealand – more than one million – lives with a disability or impairment that impacts on their daily lives. That’s a lot of people, who all have the right to enjoy the arts as artists, participants, audience members and gallery visitors.”


Further information: 

Iona McNaughton
Communications Manager, Arts Access Aotearoa
E; T: 04 802 4356 | 021 799 059

Written by

Arts Access Aotearoa

14 Oct 2020

About Arts Access Aotearoa