Comedian creates pathways
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.