Pasifika Disabled artists supported through new co-designed initiative

6 May 2022

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .

NEWS

Photo of Pasifika Disabled artists Pelenakeke Brown and Pati Umaga
[Pelenakeke Brown – Emily Parr for Papa Clothing; Pati Umaga]

Two Pasifika artists will lead a new pilot initiative to build stronger pathways to the arts and increase support for the Pasifika Disabled community.

Supported by our Pacific Arts Strategy 2018 - 2023, the Toa Residency pilot was initiated by and co-designed with Pati Umaga and Pelenakeke Brown - both previous recipients of the Arts Pasifika Toa Award. The residency will support two new projects, exploring how Pasifika Disabled artists can collaborate and connect digitally.  

Pati, a celebrated musician and advocate for the Disabled arts community, will lead a collaborative digital music project with other Disabled vocalists and musicians to produce a recording of new music. 

 “Having sovereignty and projects led by Disabled artists for Disabled artists is important to creating our own identity, as well as creating opportunities for Disabled artists to lead”, he says. 

Pelenakeke, an interdisciplinary artist who has been based in New York, will also develop a new work exploring indigeneity and ‘cripness’ across the Digital Moana Nui a Kiva, and how Disabled artists connect in times of COVID. The work will be performed virtually and in collaboration with American-Taiwanese artist Yo-Yo Linn.  

“Pasifika Disabled artists are a small but growing community in Aotearoa”, says Pelenakeke. “There are not many identifiable pathways to being an artist, disability specific funding, or a wider Pasifika community that understands Disability as a powerful identity.”  

The pilot runs from April – December 2022 with a total investment of $75,000.

 “We see and we hear our Pasifika Disabled artists – and this new initiative and collaborative approach aligns with our Pacific Arts Strategy, our Diversity Policy and our teu le va cultural approach to adorn the space with our arts leaders to lead and grow their creative work,” said Makerita Urale, Senior Manager, Pacific Arts.

She continues, "I want to thank and acknowledge Pati and Pelenakeke for their courage, passion and leadership to share their lived experiences in art to the world.”

“I am thrilled that we are investing in this strategic new initiative to support Pasifika Disabled artists as we develop as a truly inclusive agency”, says Robyn Hunt, member of the Arts Council and the Arts Council Working Group developing the next five-year Pacific Arts Strategy 2023 – 2028.

The Toa Pilot Residency also connects with the development of Creative New Zealand’s Accessibility Policy, which is focused on Deaf and Disabled artists, arts practitioners and disability audiences and communities.

The policy will be developed over this calendar year, working with a Deaf and disability-led Accessibility Reference Group. The policy aims to ensure Creative New Zealand’s services are fair and equitable, our information and places can be accessed with ease and dignity and that the benefits of the arts we support are available to all New Zealanders.