Karen’s Passion – The artistic journey of Karen Lee Roberts

Karen's Passion

Access Arts and CPL work daily towards breaking down barriers and reducing inequalities. Within our community, each individual contributes to a tapestry of remarkable stories.


One such individual is Karen Lee Roberts, winner of the Access Arts Achievement Award in 2021! The funding she received from the award was used to develop her show Sex and Other Philosophies, in collaboration with performing artists Lucinda Shaw and James Halloran. The show has gone on to be a huge success, exploring the meaning of the sensual and sensory aspects of life, through poetry, word play, playful dialogue, and original songs!


Using theatre and music to combat mental health challenges, Karen uses her art to find happiness and balance. Channelling her challenges with mental health, Karen uses these experiences to fuel and inspire her art and empower others to face their own challenges.


But there’s nobody better to share Karen’s story than Karen herself! Be sure to check out the video below, and hear Karen tell her story of overcoming barriers, and following her artistic calling.

Read More

Festive Fusion: An Access Arts Showcase

Festive Fusion: An Access Arts Showcase

Christmas came early for those who attended Festive Fusion: Access Arts Showcase and afternoon tea, hosted at the prestigious KPMG Brisbane, located on Turrbal and Yaggera land in Meanjin/ Brisbane. 


Once again, Access Arts collaborated with KPMG to showcase the talents of its Performing Arts workshop participants through theatre, dance and song pieces centred on the theme: Festive Fusion. 


Perfectly aligned to Access Arts’ mission to elevate artists with disability or disadvantage, Festive Fusion embodied a harmonious blend of art and culture. The showcase captivated the audience through its celebration of the diverse voices of talented artists who drew from their unique life experiences and desire to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes. 


The announcement of the 2023 Access Arts Achievement Award winner, Donna Lawrence, and highly commended recipient, Isabel Stankiewicz, was a fitting beginning to proceedings. Both artists expressed their gratitude and shared their excitement looking ahead to 2024. Read more about the Access Arts Achievement Award and the 2023 recipients here: Access Arts Achievement Award

As the performers prepared for the showcase, Karina White the Access Arts Theatre and Dance Ensemble and Skills-Extended workshop facilitator, spoke about how the performance came together, with each participant invited to select a song and explore where the music transported them The artists built on their skills as they developed for performance pieces from Unite and Otherwise at Undercover Artist Festival. This showcase allowed the participants to uncover new ways of connecting.  

Audience members were invited on a fun and festive journey as participants took to the stage to present group or solo theatre and dance pieces to a wide array of music, including Christmas hits, old and new, and hip hop remixes and classics.


The Access Arts singers were up next, with a score designed to ignite the Christmas spirit and showcase their range, and featuring Brooke Austin, who has returned to Access Arts to lead the group after some time away. The songs performed by the group involved solo and duet performances which displayed the group’s range of talent.  


To close the showcase, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” got the audience clapping, and the Access Arts Theatre and Dance Ensemble and Skills-Extended groups up dancing and singing along. It was a perfect way to mark the start of the festive season and celebrate the end of an incredible year for all the Access Arts participants, staff and facilitators.   

Read More

A Tranquil Showcase: Access Arts presents’ ‘Relaxed Frame of Mind’ Exhibition 

A Tranquil Showcase: Access Arts presents 'Relaxed Frame of Mind' Exhibition

Art has the extraordinary power to transport us to different worlds, evoke deep emotions, and inspire us with its creativity. The opening night of ‘Relaxed Frame of Mind,’ a visual arts exhibition presented by Access Arts in partnership with KPMG, promised to do just that. 


Hosted on the land of the Turball and Yuggera people, and for the first time at KPMG’s world class new offices in the Brisbane CBD the event opened on Wednesday 25 October with a private view and will run until Friday 8 December 2023. 


‘Relaxed Frame of Mind’ gathers a collection of 46 artworks, contributed by 23 artists from Access Arts Visual Arts workshops. The exhibition centres on themes of the pursuit of peace, calm, and tranquillity, and the featured works that beautifully depicted these states.  


The hero image of the exhibition, Awesome Peaceful Flowers, created by the talented Colleen Stevenson, captures the essence of ‘Relaxed Frame of Mind’.

Colleen’s work beckons viewers to explore the beauty of nature and how it makes you feel. This was amplified as the audience walked into the venue and saw her artwork projected onto the large circular screen on the ceiling that rotated and moved throughout the event, truly immersing them in the theme. “Flowers make me feel at peace and I love photographing flowers because they are so beautiful,” said Colleen of her artwork. 

The exhibition was formally opened by the esteemed Lady Mayoress. With guests from various sectors including medical, corporate, disability, and the arts in attendance for the unique opportunity to meet and greet the talented artists who have poured their creativity into these captivating artworks.  


Within the event space, the artwork was displayed on easels for the first time, which gave attendees the chance to wander the new venue and view the artwork up close. For those who were unable to attend the Private View the exhibition is available online to view and purchase Relaxed Frame of Mind – Access Arts  


‘Relaxed Frame of Mind’ is brought to life by the unwavering support of several sponsors, including KPMG Brisbane, Brisbane City Council through the Lord Mayor’s Community Fund, and Cr. Vicki Howard Central Ward, and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. Their commitment to the arts is essential in making this exhibition a reality. 

Read More

Otherwise: Exploring Alternative Sensory Approaches to Wellbeing

Otherwise: Exploring Alternative Sensory Approaches to Wellbeing

Our Undercover Artist Festival last month was a huge success and saw talent from all around the country to come together and perform in a four-day spectacular! 


Our Theatre and Dance Ensemble performed alongside Access Arts Singers for an extraordinary performance where theatre, dance, and song joined forces to deliver an alternative look into the eyes of a world with no barriers.


As we watched, we were invited to draw upon our own perspectives to interpret this abstract masterpiece.


The performance wasn’t just a show; it was an experience. Fire’s passion, water’s flow, and air’s freedom came to life before our eyes. Through vibrant colors, entrancing soundscapes, and mesmerizing movement, we were transported into a world where the boundaries between art forms dissolved, leaving us with a profound appreciation for the power of human creativity.

The show invites audience members to suspend their preconceived notions of what a traditional performance should be.

Following the mesmerising theatre and dance, our Access Arts Singers took to the stage to bring us a brilliant collection of hits. They even surprised us with an original song that they had composed together, which truly was a showstopper. 


But “Otherwise” was more than just a sensory experience. It was a celebration of diversity and genuine connection. It shattered the limits of convention and introduced us to a realm where embracing diversity was not only encouraged but celebrated. We left the theater that evening feeling the possibilities were limitless, and our differences were our greatest strengths.


“Otherwise” was an unforgettable performance, an ode to the human spirit’s boundless potential for creativity and connection. It challenged our perceptions and left us with a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the arts. In the end, it wasn’t just a show; it was an invitation to see the world through a different lens, to embrace diversity, and to celebrate the beauty of a world without barriers.

Read More

Applications Open for 2023 Access Arts Achievement Award

Applications open for 2023 Access Arts Achievement Award

Could you be the 2023 Award Winner? Do you need $10,000 for your current or next artistic project?

Applications are now open for the 2023 Access Arts Achievement Award 

Supporting all forms of art, the Award provides up to $10,000 in funding for Queensland artists with disability to create, develop, present, produce, exhibit, and/or tour their work. This is a game-changing opportunity for Queensland artists, arts workers and producers to extend the life of an existing work or create a new one!

Important dates

Applications Open for Submission: 

FREE Online Grant-Writing Workshop:

Applications Close for Submission: 

Award Winner Announced: 

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Wednesday, 18 October 2023

Wednesday, 8 November 2023

Tuesday, 5 December 2023

Applications open for submission:

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Free online Grant-Writing Workshop:

Wednesday, 18 October 2023

Applications close for submission:

Wednesday, 8 November 2023

Award Winner announced: 

Tuesday, 5 December 2023

Projects may take place between: 1 January and 31 December 2024

To find out more about the award including how to apply, please visit Access Arts Achievement Award

Access Arts

Online Grant-Writing Workshop

Expression of Interest Form

This opportunity is open to anyone interested in applying for the 2023 Access Arts Achievement Award. 

The workshop will delve into the following:

  • Where to start with the application  
  • How to brainstorm and frame your project   
    • Does this fit the selection criteria?  
  • What support material you need for your submission  
  • How to budget your project  
    • How to use the budget template  
  • Questions and answer time 

If you need help completing this form please contact Access Arts on: 

Phone: 07 3505 0311 

Mobile: 0403 070 661 

Email: info@accessarts.org.au


Office Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 5pm 

To register your interest in this workshop, please submit your details via the below Expression of Interest form by Monday 16 October 

Read about last year's winner

Oliver is standing in front of a black background wearing blue glasses, an orange shirt and a colourful blazer. He is looking slightly off from the camera lens with a calm expression.

2022 Access Arts Achievement Award winner

Oliver Hetherington-Page

Oliver Hetherington-Page has been awarded the Access Arts Achievement Award for 2022 for the of creation of Santa Claus is Autistic, a new cabaret work that will have its premier season at Redlands Performing Arts Centre in 2023.

Read More

Self Portrait – St Andrews Exhibition

Self Portrait - St Andrews Exhibition

Thursday, 27 July – Friday 6 October 2023
St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital

Level 3
457 Wickham Terrace,
Spring Hill QLD 4000

Access Arts hosted its fifth visual arts exhibition within the walls of St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital from July to October! This year’s visual arts display is titled Self-Portrait and offers a glimpse into the rich and unique life experiences of twenty-one visual artists from Access Arts.  


Through painting, drawing, mixed media, photography, and digital art, each artist shares what brings meaning to their lives and how they view their own character, personality and identity. 

Some artists have expressed aspects of their personality by portraying animals such as an majestic owl and the charming highland cow. Others have captured themselves engaging in activities they love such as painting, enjoying a coffee, strolling along the beach, immersing themselves in the ocean, exploring the depths through scuba diving, and embarking on drives around Mount Coot-tha. Whilst other artists have sought to give meaning to their life experiences through abstract imagery and symbolism.  


Visual artist Sue Yule, whose artwork style is illustrative, colourful and nature-based, said she worked on a digital platform to create her artwork Underwater Women for Self-Portrait. Sue says it’s been her favourite artwork to create as it shares a glimpse of Sue and an aspect of her life the audience has not seen before.  

Sue Yule - Featured Image - 725x435

I felt more at home under the water than I did on the boat - like the Underwater Woman. My painting is reflecting back on those days.

Jai Philips, whose self-described style is a little bit rustic and industrial but with attention to detail,says that his self-portrait is of him as one of his cartoon characters from ‘The Wild Triplets’ series he has created. He has used this character to tell the audience of who is he, and what he likes doing. 

“My artwork presents me as a happy character and a confident person who enjoys making art and soon to be doing new things that I’m looking forward to in the future”

Jai Phillips - Featured Image - 725x435

Each artist that has created artwork for this exhibition provides the audience with the opportunity to walk away knowing a bit more about each artist, and their individual style. Through their art, we learn that Levi Diball is smashing her fitness goals in Smashing It!, artist Tanya Darl shares her love of the Australian Outback, the native trees and the beautiful Australian sky in To Feel Good – Australian Outback. And Michael Mulvey shares his love of an iconic Brisbane location Mt Coot-Tha and the TV towers in Five Towers. All 21 visual artists have opened their worlds to share what brings meaning to their lives and offers the viewer the delightful opportunity to get to know the artist behind the creative work.  


You can visit the artwork on Level 3 St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital or view it online at Protected: Self Portrait – Access Arts. All artwork is for sale. 

Created by artists from Access Arts’ Brisbane Outsider Artists studio, Self-Portrait is presented by Access Arts, and kindly supported by St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, MinterEllison, Brisbane City Council through the Lord Mayor’s Community Fund and Cr Vicki Howard – Central Ward, and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.  

Sponsored by

Read More

Tommy and Jasmin smiling at the camera holding a photo of a cat with a cat mural behind them

Tommy and his Queen Nala mural at Brisbane Street Art Festival

Tommy and his Queen Nala mural at Brisbane Street Art Festival

Tommy, from Mix The Arts Studio, as part of the Brisbane Street Art Festival 2023, creating his live mural: Queen Nala.
Tommy and Jasmin smiling at the camera holding a photo of a cat with a cat mural behind them

We were so proud and excited when Tommy told us that he had been selected to be part of the Brisbane Street Art Festival 2023! He’s been a part of Access Arts for over 5 years, showing his artwork in a lot of our exhibitions, and bringing his fun and vibrant energy to our BOA workshops. 


The festival is an exciting celebration of urban creativity that takes place every year in Brisbane. The festival showcases the diverse talents of local and international street artists, transforming the city’s walls and public spaces into captivating works of art. Throughout the festival, visitors can explore various neighborhoods to discover an array of murals, graffiti, and installations that reflect a wide range of artistic styles.


This year Tommy was one of the talented artists chosen to showcase his work through a live mural on Queen Street Mall. 


Check out our video below! Tommy tells us all about his journey to the Brisbane Street Art Festival, and his feline inspiration behind this artwork. 

We love working with Tommy, and getting the chance to show off his artistic brilliance. 

Keep up to date with everything he’s up to here on his website.

Read More

Lights, Curtain, Action! – Celebrating 40 years of Access Arts at Unite

SAT 3 JUNE 2023

Lights, Curtain, Action! performing at
The text "Unite" is bold and has part of a blue watercolour image in the fill of the text.

Celebrating 40 years of Access Arts on Queensland Day 

With Access Arts’ 40th year celebrations right around the corner, term two performing arts participants have been hard at work developing a performance to premiere at the event. The output of their efforts, a performance which at its heart is an invitation to embrace difference and celebrate diversity.

The ensemble is working closely with guest artist and workshop faciliator Zoe Houghton. Zoe brings a wealth of experience to the ensemble. From training at NIDA, to touring with the renowned Shakespearean company, Grin & Tonic, her eclectic career has equipped her with the knowledge and expertise to guide participants in exploring theatre and dance production.  


Each week the Ensemble participants are presented with new and exciting challenges, while working closely with guest artists to uncover new ways of connecting with themselves and others through artistic exploration. They are delving into alternative sensory approaches through guided meditation, improvisational sensory game exercises, and creative exercises in mask making, face painting, and symbolic shapes of nature using body parts.


Access Arts’ Arts Manager Tim Brown, says a major theme developing within the workshops is the exploration of alternative social ecosystems, which mirror the issues and vulnerabilities faced by all. 

The show invites audience members to suspend their preconceived notions of what a traditional performance should be. The participants aim to redefine traditional performance by creating an immersive experience that cultivates accessible practice and shares it with the audience, with the hope of inspiring more accessible processes in future productions.

Through the performance, guest artist Zoe says audience members will enter a world of vibrant colours, sounds and movement that incorporates elements of live music, dance and interactive offers to the audience to create a multi-sensory experience. “We invite audience members to be present in the moment and engage with their senses to enjoy the Ensemble’s use of shaping imagery, sounds and movement.” Zoe said.  


Access Arts’ participants, like Rebecca Dostal who has been part of the program since its inception in 2015, are enjoying the style of the skill-sharing workshops, and are excited to continue working with Zoe and share their upcoming performance:


I love working with new guest artists, it broadens my artistic networks and pushes the boundaries of what we think of as traditional theatre and dance-making." Rebecca said.

Access Arts is dedicated to providing artists with opportunities to develop their skills, pursue their artistic practice, and showcase their work. Collaborating with esteemed professionals in the arts industry, such as Zoe, emphasises the importance of workshops like Lights, Curtain, Action! in creating an inclusive arts ecology that enriches our society. 


Unite – Celebrating 40 years of Access Arts on Queensland Day is part of the 2023 Queensland Government’s Queensland Day celebrations.

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, and Brisbane City Council, The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust and MinterEllison.

Karen’s Passion – The artistic journey of Karen Lee Roberts

Festive Fusion: An Access Arts Showcase

Light and Shade: A visual exploration of DBT by 2023 Access Arts Achievement Award winner, Donna Lawrence. 

Read More

Congratulations to the 2022 Matilda Award Winners!

Congratulations to the 2022 Matilda Award Winners!

We wanted to say a huge congratulations to all of the nominees and winners of the 2022 Matilda awards! So many fantastic performers went to the awards ceremony last night, and they found some incredibly talented and deserving winners.

Billie Brown Award for Best Emerging Artist Winner

Oliver Hetherington-Page

We’re super excited to share that Oliver Hetherington-Page won the Billie Brown Award for Best Emerging Artist (tied with Perry Mooney) for his show The No Bang Theory.

As you all know, we have loved Oliver’s work for a long time. He was the winner of our 2022 Access Arts Achievement Award, and since then he has grown even more. The Matilda Awards truly found a fantastic and deserving winner with him. 

Oliver Hetherington-Page has dazzled audiences with his musical-cabaret form, and his unique voice and insights. He beautifully blends elements of comedy, social commentary, musical theatre and stunning dinner jackets, to create an engaging and highly entertaining performance.

Oliver’s work embeds important elements of didacticism and social activism alongside a witty, charming and deceptively complex narrative.

The No Bang Theory is a fantastic performance, and we highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet! Keep up to date with this show here.

Find out more about Oliver and his Access Arts Achievement Award here. And stay tuned for more information about the award in the second half of 2023!

Read More

National Creative Partnerships Australia

National Creative Partnerships Australia (CPA) Plus1 Program

Access Arts and Undercover Artist funding recipients for the Plus1 Program.
Access Arts CEO Pat Swell says how excited the whole team are to be able to use this funding to support the Undercover Artist Festival.

Access Arts have received financial support through Creative Partnerships Australia Plus1 Program.


Plus1 is a program which has been set up to support not-for-profit arts and cultural organisations. It’s a dollar-for-dollar funding match program to allow not-for-profit art organisations to maximise their fundraising efforts.


This support will go a long way to supporting us at Access Arts, and the Undercover Artist Festival, which we are funding again in 2023! 

Access Arts Chief Executive Officer Pat Swell said, “We are incredibly excited to receive funding to support Undercover Artist Festival, which has grown to become Australia’s premier performing arts and disability festival, produced/performed by artists with disability.

“This unique festival nurtures individual artistry, culturally educates and presents experiences to community that move beyond stigmas associated with disability, creating career pathways and recognising excellence,” Ms Swell said.

“We are looking forward to using this support to springboard further engagement with the many individuals and organisations who share our aspirations for the Festival.”

Learn more about Undercover Artist Festival here.

Read More