Comedian cre­ates path­ways

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By OLIVIA SHIVAS

The Arts Ac­cess Awards, held at Par­lia­ment on July 29, ac­knowl­edged the con­tri­bu­tion of in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions in pro­vid­ing ac­cess to the arts.

One man re­ceived a distin­guished men­tion for his ex­cep­tional lead­er­ship and pas­sion for di­ver­sity and so­cial change.

Philip Pat­ston was made the in­au­gu­ral re­cip­i­ent of the Arts Ac­cess Ac­co­lade which was pre­sented by Dame Rosie Hor­ton.

The West­mere res­i­dent says he was not ex­pect­ing it.

‘‘I’ve never thought much about what I’ve done over time, but I guess what it’s made me re­alise is that over the last 20 years I have per­son­ally been in­volved with the arts and it’s nice to know that I can use my in­flu­ence to help other peo­ple be in­volved,’’ he says.

Born with cere­bral palsy, Pat­ston has al­ways pushed the bound­aries.

He says his cere­bral palsy is a ‘‘unique func­tion’’ – some­thing that is the most ob­vi­ous thing about him but not the big­gest part of him.

Pat­ston was first as­so­ci­ated with Arts Ac­cess Aotearoa from the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s early days.

In 2011, he or­gan­ised work­shops around the coun­try and last year he fa­cil­i­tated the Mak­ing A Dif­fer­ence Arts Ad­vo­cates gramme in Auck­land.

‘‘Why talk about dis­abil­ity when you can talk about ac­ces­si­bil­ity, Pat­ston says.

‘‘If we’re ac­ces­si­ble then dis­abil­ity be­comes al­most ir­rel­e­vant.’’

Pat­ston has had a 15-year ca­reer as a comedian and says it hap­pened by ac­ci­dent be­cause he was bored.

He is also co-direc­tor of the Be. Lead­er­ship pro­gramme and has set up var­i­ous not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing the Diver­si­ty­works Trust, Ripple Trust, Manawanui in Charge and Auck­land Dis­abil­ity Law.

Ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Arts Ac­cess

pro- New Zealand Richard Benge says Pat­ston was the unan­i­mous choice for the ac­co­lade.

‘‘Philip is an ex­cep­tional leader. He has men­tored this or­gan­i­sa­tion, shar­ing his wis­dom, gen­eros­ity, life ex­pe­ri­ences and good hu­mour.’’

Pat­ston says cre­ativ­ity should be em­braced more in the com­mu­nity.

‘‘I think arts and cre­ativ­ity are in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant and are quite de­val­ued by our so­ci­ety. So I guess it feels to me that it is a gen­eral ac­knowl­edge­ment that be­ing creative is im­por­tant to every­one’s life,’’ he says.

Awards ex­cel­lence: Philip Pat­ston has been recog­nised for his role in en­sur­ing all New Zealan­ders can take part in the arts.

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