On the eve of the one-year to go to the 36th America’s Cup Match announcement, a new partnership between Be. Lab and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) is working to ensure the event is inclusive and inviting to the one in four New Zealanders and all overseas visitors with access needs.

The 36th America’s Cup aims to exceed audience expectations with free event content, accessible online or in person at the Cup Village and across the region.

ATEED Chief Executive Nick Hill says the partnership will ensure that America’s Cup events in Auckland and other activations taking place throughout the summer are as accessible as possible and that everyone, regardless of age or ability, can get involved.

“The 36th America’s Cup will attract visitors from all around the world and we plan to showcase Auckland’s outstanding, inclusive hosting by ensuring everyone can come and enjoy thrilling racing and a vibrant, festive atmosphere,” says Hill.

To this end, ATEED and Be. Lab are working together with the community and various agencies involved with the America’s Cup to design a programme that exceeds the requirements of people with access needs, such as physical impairments, vision or hearing loss, learning impairments or short-term injuries or age-related disabilities.

With racing set to take place closer to shore than in any previous campaigns, the partnership includes assessments of key viewing areas, new, existing and temporary facilities. 

Be. Lab works with organisations to rethink the accessibility journey and design forward-thinking access solutions. Formerly Be. Accessible, Be. Lab is a legacy of Rugby World Cup 2011, when the group was formed out of the Government’s commitment to accessible major events. Be. Lab has been involved with a range of major events since, including the America’s Cup Homecoming Parade in 2017 and working alongside ATEED on Lantern Festival 2018, Diwali Festival 2017 and the All Blacks Homecoming Parade in 2015.

According to Be. Lab founder Minnie Baragwanath, people with access needs are often excluded from major events inadvertently.

“Most access needs are invisible, but basically it’s all about outstanding customer service and genuinely caring for all people. Great hospitality, information sharing, and growing confidence are key.

“For the 36th America’s Cup we’re working with ATEED to get alongside the business community, personnel and volunteers and make sure they have the information they need to provide a positive experience,” says Baragwanath.

Be. Lab will also provide training and workshops for volunteers and hosts of events included in ATEED’s summer activations programme, which will see a variety of events and activations taking place throughout the Auckland region, from January to March 2021, alongside the America’s Cup racing.

“During the races, we’ll also take the lead in sharing information with the access community and ensuring relevant information and support is available for racegoers,” says Baragwanath.

This includes creating a comprehensive map highlighting important information, such as distances between events and facilities available on-site.

Like past America’s Cup campaigns, the 36th America’s Cup will showcase all that New Zealand’s technology and innovation sectors have to offer and put a spotlight on our marine, tourism, engineering and design industries. According to Baragwanath, it’s also an opportunity to position ourselves as global leaders in access innovation.

“The America’s Cup is all about the best in design thinking and challenging what’s possible. We’re doing the same when it comes to access. We want to go beyond seamless and invisible and think of new ways to encourage everyone to get involved,” says Baragwanath. 

For more information, see belab.co.nz

In its role as hosts and lead Council agency for the 36th America’s Cup, ATEED has sponsored a series of events and activations to take place throughout the region during the 36th America’s Cup racing cycle. More information

36th America’s Cup dates in Auckland:
• 17 – 20 December 2020 – the America’s Cup World Series Auckland, racing for the Christmas Cup. This is the third and final regatta in the World Series
• 15 Jan – 22 Feb 2021 – the Prada Cup
• 6 – 21 March 2021 – the 36th America’s Cup Match

Photo caption: The 36th America’s Cup will see racing closer to the shore than in any previous campaign.
Photo credit: Emirates Team New Zealand