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New pilot launched to support Disabled Pasifika artists

Pelenakeke Brown (credit Emily Parr for Papa Clothing); Pati Umaga. Photo: Creative NZ
Pelenakeke Brown (credit Emily Parr for Papa Clothing); Pati Umaga. Photo: Creative NZ

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

The Toa Residency pilot was initiated by and co-designed with Pati Umaga and Pelenakeke Brown – both previous recipients of Creative New Zealand’s Arts Pasifika Toa Award. The residency will support two new projects, exploring how Disabled Pasifika 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 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. The Toa Residency pilot is supported by Creative New Zealand Pacific Arts Strategy, 2018-2023

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