Unite – Celebrating 40 Years of Access Arts on Queensland Day
Chair of Access Arts, the Honourable Justice Thomas Bradley; representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor for McDowall Ward, Councillor Tracy Davis; Federal Member for Brisbane, Mr Stephen Bates MP; Access Arts CEO, Ms Pat Swell; Members of the Board and Management Committee; staff; sponsors; artists and performers; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to all First Nations people here today. Indigenous songs, dances, art and stories richly inspire and inform our State’s creative expression.
I am honoured to join you all this afternoon as Patron of Access Arts—continuing a tradition of Vice-Regal support that highlights your organisation’s immense contribution to the vitality of Queensland.
It is fitting that today’s 40th anniversary event coincides with our State’s own birthday celebrations, because Queensland’s maturation over its 164 years1, is largely a result of the tremendous diversity of its people.
Since its beginnings, Access Arts has been a trailblazer for social change in this State, leading the way to create opportunities in the performing and visual arts for those living with disability or disadvantage.
Now, as part of Choice Passion Life2—of which I am also proud Patron—it continues to provide artists with innovative and high quality arts programs, in touch with contemporary needs and desires.
Art—in its various forms—is crucial to creating both a united and a vibrant society: one that values differences and is enriched by a variety of creative voices.
By enabling artists to develop their skills, collaborate with other professionals in the industry, be given the financial means to develop their work, and to showcase their unique talents, Access Arts has provided essential practical support to help shape and build careers.
Most significantly, Access Arts has also fostered the intangible—the dreams, confidence, happiness and creative fulfillment of artists who might not otherwise have the chance to shine.
This extraordinary impact has only been made possible through the determination and hard work of many.
Inspirational early arts practitioners, including Liz Navratil, Willie Prince and Robert Plant3, were instrumental in creating the organisation and seeing it grow and thrive.
Access Art’s four previous Executive Directors—two of whom are with us today in Mr David Gerrand and Ms Emma Bennison—along with current CEO, Pat Swell, have overseen teams of committed staff and supporters who have each worked tirelessly to further the organisation’s goals.
And of course, the success of the Access Arts artists themselves is a clear indication that these positive impacts have an integral, enduring effect. On that note, I am very much looking forward to viewing the artworks for sale in the foyer, created by the incredible Brisbane Outsider Artists!
And I am also so pleased that the talented Theatre and Dance Ensemble and Access Arts Singers entertaining us today, will again be performing in September’s Access Arts’ Undercover Artist Festival—another amazing initiative that is now our country’s premier disability-led performing arts festival.
There is so much to celebrate, but before the festivities begin, I must pay tribute to the Access Arts Chair and Board, current and past executive and staff, and all of the remarkable sponsors and supporters.
Finally, and most importantly, I thank all of the brilliant artists—past and present—who are making Queensland a much more colourful, dynamic and united place for all of us.
In closing, it is now my great pleasure to present a Certificate of Patronage to Access Arts Chair, the Honourable Justice Thomas Bradley.