Patston, with Dame Rosie Horton Gay man, advocate for the disabled, former comedian and social change campaigner Philip Patston has been lauded as an “inspiration” and awarded the inaugural Arts Access Accolade. It recognises Patston’s work with Arts Access Aotearoa to achieve its vision of a society where all people can participate in the arts. “Philip is an inspiration to people who work with him,” says Arts Access Awards patron Dame Rosie Horton. “Rather than retreat from challenges, he has faced them. Rather than ignore bigotry, he has educated. And rather than increase tension, he has used humour and generosity to change attitudes.” Executive Director Richard Benge says Patston was the unanimous choice. “Philip is an exceptional leader. He has mentored this organisation, sharing his wisdom, generosity, life experiences and good humour. We salute you, Philip Patston.” Patston was first associated with Arts Access Aotearoa in its early days. In 2011, he facilitated workshops around the country, built around its publication Arts For All. Last year he enabled the organisation’s Making A Difference Arts Advocates Programme in Auckland and continues to guide this group in its advocacy work. About Philip Patston: Born with cerebral palsy, Patston has always pushed boundaries in thinking. He talks of his cerebral palsy as a “unique function” – something that’s the most obvious thing about him but not the biggest part of him, he says. “My uniqueness is part of who I am and I don’t want to minimise it. But there are lots of parts to me.” What most interests Patston is social change and looking at the world through different lenses. Why talk about disability, he asks, when you can talk about accessibility. “If we’re accessible then disability becomes almost irrelevant.” He describes himself as a “creative” rather than an artist. He’s always “dabbled” in poetry, has set several poems to music and makes music videos, including a video for one of his poems called As Love Draws Near. For 15 years, comedy took Philip to festivals around New Zealand, and in Australia, Canada, the United States, Britain and Belgium. Recipient of the Billy T Award in 1999, he was also a feature act in the television show Pulp Comedy and had a brief role in the local television soap Shortland Street. Along with his work as a comedian, Patston set up Diversity New Zealand in 2001 and since then, it has been a platform to promote and progress social change and diversity. He’s trained as a counsellor and social worker; travelled to the United States on a Winston Churchill Fellowship; worked for the Human Rights Commission; and is an alumnus of a New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship and Leadership New Zealand. He’s also co-director of the Be. Leadership programme for Be. Accessible and has set up various not-for-profit organisations, including the Diversityworks Trust, Ripple Trust, Manawanui in Charge and Auckland Disability Law. Patston has just joined the New Zealand AIDS Foundation in a communications role.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Thursday, 31st July 2014 - 10:51am
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