Chapter 7 - Education and training
The importance of education and training was repeatedly
raised in both submissions made to the committee and in hearing testimony. Education
is often cited as a method of combating various problems evident in the
Indigenous visual arts and crafts sector and its importance has been noted in
Education is definitely a very strong part of it. Education not
only of the people working in the arts centres and the communities; education
of the artists themselves in terms of their rights and responsibilities; and
also education of the general and buying public especially. That is something
that can be conducted through all sorts of means. Education is very important.
Given this perception, this chapter aims to examine issues surrounding:
- education and training of art centre staff;
- education of artists, particularly about their rights and
- education of buyers, both domestic and international.
This chapter also examines existing government initiatives and programs
which are either being used, or could potentially be used to strengthen
education, training and employment outcomes for the Indigenous visual arts
industry. This includes a discussion of the Commonwealth Government's Community
Development Employment Projects (CDEP) programme.
Education and training have the potential to strengthen the sector's
sustainability and profitability. While results may not be immediate, better
resourced and coordinated education and training is a medium to long-term
solution to some of the sector's fundamental issues such as effective art
centre management and the curtailing of unscrupulous art dealer activities.
Education and training of art centre staff
The training offered to art centre managers is particularly important
given the high turnover of staff, and the disproportionate impact a relatively
small increase in resources could have on the sector through providing greater
managerial training and support.
The role of the art centre is central to the education and training of
managers, artists, and consumers.
The Art Centre has a crucial role in educating both consumer and
practitioner. Education needs to be a gentle process in which all participants
can slowly absorb knowledge and change. Art Centres do this by acting as a
buffer between the highly competitive art market and the cultural environment
of “country”. Educating the market is one of the most effective tools against
unscrupulous and unethical conduct. However without adequate funding most Art
Centres lack the human resources to implement this effectively. Courses at
educational facilities, such as Charles Darwin University, that relate to
specific Art Centre roles would also be advantageous.
Tertiary education and its potential to impact on the art sector is
further explored later in the chapter.
Barriers to the education and
training of art centre managers
Lack of education and training for art centre staff has been a constant
theme through the submissions and testimonies received
by the committee. A typical comment is:
We also need to look at training opportunities for art centre
staff. Most art centre managers I know have had no training or no professional
development during their time in the art centre industry.
The committee met several art centre staff during its inquiry, from both
Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and was impressed by their
skills, commitment and advocacy. Art centre managers come from a wide variety
of sources such as direct from university as art graduates, business managers,
practicing artists, social workers or previously experienced art centre
managers. While they may be qualified in a particular area – such as art
history, or management skills generally, they are unlikely to possess the
collection of skills required to successfully manage isolated Indigenous art
centres. Knowledge of art, sensitivity to cultural differences, accounting and
bookkeeping skills are just some of the many skills art centre managers need.
Unfortunately, many do not have all those skills, nor receive access to
suitable training. Brian Tucker noted:
In my experience, managers will sometimes have come from a
marketing background, often, but not always, in Indigenous art; or they may
have been a practicing artist or community cultural development worker; or have
a curatorial history, or worked in Indigenous communities as a social worker. Rarely
will they have financial management skills, although they may have rudimentary
book-keeping experience. Yet all of these skills are required to successfully
manage an art centre.... [and] there is no training available for this position...
Managers learn those skills they do not have on the job and from (often bitter)
The lack of training, harsh conditions and cultural challenges result in
a high turnover of staff, exacerbating the problems. The Australia Council
Not all art centre managers may be good managers, especially
with the high turnover of staff in centres nowadays. A successfully run art
centre needs superior business, administration and social skills. A survey of
art centre coordinators published in 2000 noted that, while the majority
already have tertiary qualifications, they still often have significant
training needs in general arts administration, book-keeping, business studies,
practical art training, linguistics, fine art, marketing, computing,
anthropology and Aboriginal studies, particularly in cultural protocols. Considerable
support is needed to ensure that these professional development needs are met.
Education and training for art centre managers is a difficult issue. There
are a number of impediments which potentially include inexperience and a lack of
understanding of complex and sensitive cultural issues. Many come from
metropolitan regions and have never had any contact with Indigenous people. Training
before they take up such a position within a community would be of benefit. Arts
centre managers also need to be aware of the various codes of best practice
relevant to the Indigenous arts industry.
Furthermore, the sheer remoteness of many Indigenous communities makes access
to training and materials difficult. Professor Jon Altman observed:
Another aspect of the human resourcing
issue is professional development for staff, especially in the areas of business
skills, governance and administration. Access to education and training
opportunities can be difficult due to the remoteness of many art centres and
finding the funds to attend training can be difficult. Access to training (e.g.
acquiring skills in new media) for art producers is another issue raised in
Given the stress and time commitment required by the job, it would be
ideal if art centre managers were given suitable training prior to their
placement. It has been suggested that perhaps some form of tertiary certificate
course could be constituted to give aspiring art centre mangers a suitable
background. This would fill a void which currently exists in courses offered
by, for example, TAFE:
Training probably needs to be undertaken before they actually
get to the arts centre. Once they get to the arts centre they are probably
going to be working 12 hours a day, six days a week, and the time to engage in
even online training is going to be limited. It would be nice if some of the
state tertiary institutions could establish some form of certificate of arts
centre administration or something like that, so that people who had a mind
that this was an industry that they wanted to get into—or even young Indigenous
people who decided that they wanted to get into this industry—could find a
course of training that would be geared specifically to the role that they will
be undertaking and that would cover everything from financial issues and
computers to photography and database management. 
Such training could also be complemented by on-line
In 1997, the Queensland Government conducted an inquiry into the
Indigenous cultural industry in Queensland.
It did note that in 1997 there was a number of courses run by TAFE and others
by Queensland Government Departments, such as Cross Cultural Communication
and Training, Advanced Certificate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander (A&TSI) Community Management, Survival Skills for artists,
Small Business for Aboriginal Artists to name a few.
Many courses relating to Indigenous arts and craft, as well as business
administration, continue to be available, but are not necessarily offered as part
of a coordinated suite of training for potential or actual art centre managers.
Such a coordinated approach may be worth consideration. Given the varied
and demanding requirements on art centre managers, it should be possible to
provide a coordinated program from pre-existing courses to equip potential art
centre managers with the requisite skills prior to the take up of their
positions. This would require some coordination between existing TAFE courses
and those offered by state and territory governments, but given the importance
of the positions it would be of great benefit to the managers and the industry
as a whole.
While it is likely to require increased resources, one system which the
committee recommends considering is that of 'on-the-job' training, similar
perhaps to an apprenticeship. This could complement the vocational studies
course discussed above. Through extra funding for both staffing and
infrastructure (so as to accommodate the new staff), a system could also be put
in place where either an existing or out-going art centre manager, or perhaps a
certified and experienced trainer, could spend a transition period with a newly
employed art centre manager so as to educate and train the new manager on the
specific requirements of that particular art centre and on the Indigenous
visual art industry more broadly. A pre-existing program, such as the Group
Training Australian Apprenticeships Targeted Initiatives Programme run by the
Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), may be able to
accommodate such an approach without a new program or bureaucracy being
Federal government programs
Apart from vocational training for art centre managers, there are
Federal Government programs available to assist with education and training for
the Indigenous visual art industry, as well as skills development through
employment experience. Funding of training activities is potentially consistent
with the NACIS scheme guidelines, however, as noted in chapter six, there is
already extremely heavy demand on NACIS funding. Support is also available for
training of young and emerging Indigenous artists and art centre workers under
DCITA's Indigenous Visual Arts Special Initiative program, which has
experienced less heavy demand. However, the committee also notes this
initiative is due to conclude in 2007-08.
The Australia Business Arts Foundation delivers business skills
development training. It has received $0.5 million to develop a 'tailored
training package for individual visual artists to enhance their engagement with
the commercial arts market'.
Given the large proportion of Indigenous artists working through art centres
and organisations rather than individually, and that the training is not
Indigenous-specific, it may be of limited relevance to this industry.
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) has a series
of programs which are designed to provide eduction and training support not
only to the Indigenous art and crafts sector, but also more broadly. Below is a
selection of programs DEWR outlined in its submission which is available to
provide training and education to the Indigenous art sector.
Structured Training and Employment Projects (STEP)
provide flexible financial assistance for projects that offer employment and
structured training. This can be in the form of on-the-job training or support
for apprenticeships and traineeships to meet employers needs and must lead to
lasting employment for Indigenous job seekers.
The nature of employers in the arts and craft sector,
particularly the high proportion of very small businesses or sole traders, has
limited the scope of STEP projects in the sector. For example, STEP funding
cannot be used to fund artists directly. Artists are generally self-employed
rather than employees of a business. Despite this, STEP has been used
successfully to support projects in the arts sector.
The Indigenous Small Business Fund (ISBF) offers funding
to incorporated Indigenous organisations to assist Indigenous people to learn
about business, develop good business skills and expand their businesses. Assistance
is available for activities such as feasibility studies, business planning,
marketing, business mentors and other facilitative projects. Indigenous
organisations looking at developing and/or expanding their enterprises are
eligible to apply for ISBF funding.
Across Australia, ISBF funding is assisting in implementing
business plans and engaging business expertise to transform art centres and
CDEP enterprises into commercial operations such as Koori Artefact Production,
Uambi CDEP Aboriginal Corporation, Cooragan Arts and Craft Centre and the
Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts.
The Indigenous Capital Assistance Scheme (ICAS) assists
in increasing Indigenous employment and Indigenous owned businesses by
improving the access of Indigenous businesses to commercial finance and
culturally appropriate professional support and mentoring. Flexible assistance packages
are available over three years to help stimulate Indigenous business
development, with loans ranging from $50 000 - $500 000. A key feature is the
provision of interest rate subsidies to ease debt servicing requirements for
Indigenous businesses. The programme is delivered in partnership with the Westpac
Banking Corporation across Australia... ICAS has been able to assist two arts
businesses in Northern Australia that combine tourism, an art gallery and
retailing of Indigenous arts and crafts.
Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) links skilled
volunteers with communities that have asked for expert assistance in areas such
as business, financial management and trades such as construction or plumbing.
Since 2001, ICV has provided volunteers for up to three months to support and
assist organisations including arts centres and artists.
The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) is a
mainstream programme which helps eligible unemployed people to start and run
their new, viable small business. NEIS provides training in small business
management and business skills, and business plan development. NEIS does not
provide start-up funds such as loans or grants. At the end of training (up to
three months), if the business plan is approved, NEIS assistance starts. NEIS
participants receive income support while developing their businesses along
with business advice and mentoring support during the first year of operation.
NEIS mentors have proven business acumen and proven experience in marketing,
finance, accounting or other relevant business skills... However it has not
really been taken up by Indigenous Australians.
Indigenous Business Australia also provides some assistance. IBA
Enterprises can support Indigenous people wanting to develop businesses, or
access business development training and support, in a range of sectors
including the arts. IBA does not, however, provide grant support to
organisations or provide general education and training of art centre managers.
IBA is currently considering how it can take a strategic approach to
supporting commercial development in this industry. In the absence of industry
specific funding to support this industry, IBA must operate commercially. However
Indigenous artists can, and do, access IBA Enterprises business support and
development assistance. Indigenous Business Australia can also provide
innovative commercial solutions to community enterprises where there is a
desire to achieve commercial viability.
These DEWR programs can be accessed either by themselves, or in
conjunction with other Government programs, such as the Community Development
Employment Projects (CDEP) program. The Department of Employment and Workplace
Relations (DEWR) administers the CDEP program which is the largest single
provider of participation activities for Indigenous Australians. DEWR
administers and implements strategies and guidelines for the effective delivery
of the CDEP program. It is also responsible for funding and contract
management, including monitoring and reporting on the performance of CDEP
service providers. The CDEP program provides participation opportunities
through activities which develop skills and improve employability of
participants in order to assist them to move into employment outside the CDEP
CDEP activities can also lead to the development of business
enterprises. The overall aim is to support Indigenous people to achieve
For example, the STEP programme outlined above has already been used in
conjunction with the CDEP. A DEWR representative outlined some examples of how
STEP had been utilised while at the same time drawing support from the CDEP.
In the first one, in Northern Australia, with the Association of
Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists, (ANKAAA), our STEP program
has employed a business development officer to assist in the training of arts
centre staff in business skills, developing business, strategic and marketing
plans for arts centres, and developing better business practice within those
centres. In a second example, STEP funding has been used to support a local
Indigenous woman in Borroloola in the Northern Territory to gain qualifications
in museum practice and arts centre management. Once she has completed her
training, she will move from CDEP to full-time employment.
CDEP service providers receive funding to provide services and manage
activities aimed at increasing employment outcomes for Indigenous people:
Organisations funded to deliver the CDEP programme (CDEP
organisations) manage activities aimed at increasing employment outcomes,
providing business development opportunities and meeting community needs to
benefit Indigenous people and their communities. CDEP activities must lead to
employment wherever possible and all activities must be approved by DEWR before
the commencement of the activity. This emphasis on employment was reinforced in
the 2006-07 CDEP programme guidelines.
This program plays a major role in Indigenous visual arts, as a source
of employment for staff in art centres, and as a source of employment for
artists, as many artists employed by arts centres are CDEP participants. DEWR
It is estimated that around 130 arts activities are currently
undertaken by 95 CDEP organisations. These activities can support up to
2100 participants. This accounts for around four per cent of all CDEP
Submitters were positive about the role of CDEP in building skills and
the capacity to be self reliant:
Many Art Centres are reliant on CDEP (community development
employment program). By subsidizing the employment of local people, CDEP
assists in basic training that provides a stepping stone into the organizing
and running of a Community Art Centre. This in turn builds significant skills
in assisting inter-cultural relations and furthering self-determination. As Art
Centres act as a mediator between artists/community and art market, then it is
vital that training of local people be not only maintained, but further encouraged.
DEWR supports the training of CDEP participants insofar as that training
leads to off-CDEP employment. However, DEWR emphasised that CDEP is an
employment program rather than a training program, and that its aim is to
achieve 'unsubsidised employment' for participants.
It is not clear from the art centres' submissions that once a CDEP participant
has completed training, the art centre then has the financial capacity to
employ the person off CDEP. Therefore CDEP may not be the most appropriate program
from which arts centres should be drawing assistance. DEWR is discussing with
DCITA issues of CDEP cross-subsidisation in the arts sector (see below).
Changes to CDEP
Several changes to the operation of CDEP have recently been introduced. As
noted above, people participating under the CDEP scheme can be employed by a
CDEP organisation or placed by the CDEP organisation with an external or host
employer. In July 2005 placements by CDEP service providers of CDEP
participants with host employers were limited to 12 months duration. This
applied to all CDEP participants including in remote areas. It is believed that
most arts centres would fall under the category of host employers.
In July 2006 new CDEP participants in urban and regional centres were
limited to 52 weeks (one year) participation to ensure CDEP becomes a stepping
stone to real jobs.
This limit does not apply to remote areas where CDEP participants are not
subject to a specific time limit.
Other changes to the CDEP will come into operation from 1 July 2007. After that date CDEP will no longer operate in urban and major regional
centres. As a consequence of the cessation of CDEP, top-up payments will cease.
CDEP will continue to operate in remote areas and in regional locations with
weaker labour markets (as will top-up payments in these areas).
CDEP will cease in the following locations:
- New South Wales – Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle, Hunter region,
Armidale, Cowra, Griffith, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Queanbeyan
- Northern Territory – Darwin
- Queensland – Rockhampton, Yeppoon including Capricorn Coast and
Gladstone including Biloela and Mt Morgan, City of Cairns and district from
Palm Cove to Edmonton, Townsville region comprising the cities of Townsville
and Thuringowa, City of Toowoomba and surrounding district including Oakey and
Crows Nest, Dalby and district, Warwick and district, City of Mackay and
district, Brisbane including North Stradbroke Island, Beaudesert, Ipswich,
Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast
- South Australia – Adelaide and Riverland and immediate surrounds,
South East South Australia and immediate surrounds, Port Lincoln and immediate
surrounds, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Port Pirie and immediate surrounds, Murray
Bridge and immediate surrounds
- Tasmania – mainland
- Victoria – Halls Gap, Horsham, Ballarat, Shepparton,
Wangaratta, Echuca, Wodonga, Melbourne, Geelong, Bairnsdale, Orbost, Lakes
Entrance, Lake Tyers, Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton, Heywood, Mortlake,
Camperdown, Terang and Robinvale
- Western Australia – Port Hedland, South
Hedland, Bunbury, Busselton, Collie,
Australind, Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Perth metropolitan area, Broome, Albany and
- Australian Capital Territory.
Art centres expressed concern about the 12 months' employment limit,
arguing that the 12-month period is shorter than needed to develop skills as an
artist or art worker:
Waringarri Aboriginal Arts has a constitutional focus on
providing employment and training opportunities for local indigenous people.
Young people are encouraged to participate at the art centre as support workers
and are provided with the opportunity to increase skills and knowledge in art
centre operations and management. Currently 6 positions exist as
administration, art materials supply, freight and packing, and gallery sales
assistants. These positions are funded through the local CDEP scheme with “Top
Up” payments to meet award levels. With the proposed changes to CDEP these
positions will be jeopardized since the twelve month cut off of each CDEP
placement does not allow sufficient time to adequately train staff. It would be
reasonable to assume that training positions need at least two years period in
order to achieve skills levels required for the performance of most art centre
positions. Training in these positions enhances the opportunity for young
indigenous people to achieve success in a range of future employment options
that may be made available both within and outside the sector. A case by case
arrangement should be put in place that acknowledges positive achievements and
Waringarri Aboriginal Arts concluded:
Without CDEP or an appropriate funding
alternative Waringarri Aboriginal Arts is unlikely to be able to continue on
its current path of success and sustainability.
The Arts Law Centre of Australia expressed similar concerns:
The new system of Community Development and Employment Projects
(CDEP) program is problematic for the financial viability of many artists and
the CDEP providers with whom they are working. The CDEP system does not reflect
the reality of job and business prospects for Indigenous people in regional and
remote Australia, with CDEP participants expected to move into real jobs after
52 weeks on CDEP.
Concerns were also expressed about the changes to be introduced from
July 2007. It was argued that these would threaten the viability of art centres
in urban and major regional centres and threaten the livelihood of artists and
art centre support staff in these areas. Professor Altman stated that:
Proposed changes to the CDEP scheme that would see its
disappearance in metropolitan and urban centres could have major impacts on the
sustainability of arts practice in such areas. Even in rural and remote
regions, pressure on CDEP organisations to exit participants into mainstream work
could have deleterious impacts on the visual arts sector, both in terms of
artist outputs and in terms of employment of art centre support staff.
Similar concerns were expressed in relation to arts centres in remote
areas (submissions were received before the government's recent announcement)
but as noted above CDEP will continue to operate in remote areas and in certain
regional locations. Some concerns were expressed concerning the impact that the
cessation of CDEP in urban and major regional centres from July 2007 will have,
although the overall impact of this measure is difficult to determine at this
stage. The cessation of CDEP in urban and major regional areas will, however,
be complemented by the provision of additional funding to expand the previously
discussed Structured Training and Employment Projects (STEP) program and to
broker employment services in areas such as those affected by the changes. STEP
is flexible enough to allow brokers to deliver community work activities
similar to those delivered under CDEP.
DEWR noted that the nature of employers in the arts and craft sector,
particularly the high proportion of very small businesses or sole traders, has
limited the scope of STEP projects in the sector. For example, STEP funding
cannot be used to fund artists directly. Artists are generally self-employed
rather than employees of a business. However DEWR stated that STEP has been
used successfully to support projects in the arts sector. As noted above,
ANKAAA is, through STEP funding, employing a business development officer to
improve the skills base of the organisation. In another example, the Mabunji
Arts Centre is developing the employment and business capacity of its
operations through STEP funding of an Indigenous employee to gain qualifications
in museum practice and arts centre management.
CDEP cross subsidisation
The CDEP program was described in the previous chapter. The use of CDEP
labour to support other government agency activities can be referred to as CDEP
cross-subsidisation. It is estimated that 20 per cent of all CDEP participants
could be in this category. This proportion varies across the country, but may
be higher in remote areas. DEWR stated that available information shows that
there are 34 arts activities that are supported by other government programs
with up to 328 CDEP participants involved.
DEWR indicated that the department and other Commonwealth agencies are
seeking to eliminate this cross-subsidisation between programs. DEWR stated
that the aim is create 'real' employment and career paths for Indigenous people
participating in CDEP activities that elsewhere would be 'real' jobs.
The committee recognises the contribution that CDEP has made, and
continues to make, to skills development in Indigenous arts generally, and in
art centres in particular. It supports the focus of CDEP on skills development
and on-the-job training, which was widely regarded as important in this
The committee supports ongoing discussion between DEWR and DCITA
regarding Commonwealth support for employment in art centres. Art centres are a
crucial part of a tremendous success story for Indigenous skills and Indigenous
employment. The committee is supportive of any policy reform or restructure of
programs that does not jeopardise that success and improves the efficiency and
transparency of government assistance in the sector.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth pursue the conversion of
CDEP-funded positions in art centres into properly funded jobs, taking an
approach similar to the 2007-08 Budget initiative in other portfolio areas; and
that this initiative be independent of future NACIS program funding.
Apart from government programs, there exists a number of employment, education
and training programs run by non-government and other organisations. Desart,
for example, argued that ongoing training is a critical sustainability factor
in the arts and craft industry and it is developing a Training Network to
support Aboriginal art centres in central Australia by building training
partnerships between art centres and registered training organisations, and,
where appropriate, other participants in the Aboriginal art industry of the
Central Desert. Desart is pursuing this Training Network for artists and art
workers, executive members of art centres and art centre managers.
A book explaining the Training Network, completed early in 2006, was developed
as a training research project to examine the needs, aspirations and delivery of
training to Aboriginal people working in Art Centres in central Australia.
The Training Network is open to all participants in the Aboriginal Art
Industry of the Central Desert who have ideas and aims to creates an overview
- registered training organisations offering training that meets
identified needs of art centres: how, what and where;
- Government funding which may assist art centres to get the right
training, and assist training organisations to provide the right training;
- participants in the art industry with ideas and perhaps resources
to contribute; and
- available resources and initiatives.
This overview is intended to allow Desart to facilitate
combining the correct mix of people, ideas and funding so as to initiate
The Training Network offers:
Art centres the opportunity to tell Desart what they need and
what they don’t need, what will work and what won’t work, as well as share past
experiences, good and bad. The Network helps art centres to say what they want
from training to training providers and to work with training providers to get
Training providers the opportunity to be part of a community of
practice and to register on our participants list. This way they will learn
about possible opportunities and projects;
All participants in the Aboriginal art industry of the Central Desert
the opportunity to contribute ideas and other opportunities for training. These
may be artists, galleries, academics, suppliers, tourist centre staff and peak
organisations as well as others; and
Government a forum to match national training policy and funding
with the needs of Art Centres in Central Australia in practical and inclusive
ways, some of which will be tried and true, some of which will be new.
Education and training of artists
The bigger picture
A number of submissions have indicated that many Indigenous artists,
living as they do in remote communities, have experienced a lack of educational
opportunities. This is a fundamental problem that transcends the Indigenous
arts industry. Education standards for Indigenous people are low, and this
affects their ability to procure and maintain employment, and generally make
educated decisions about their lifestyle and future.
Raising basic literacy and numeracy skills remains a fundamental pre-requisite
to assisting Indigenous artists becoming more empowered in terms of their
rights and responsibilities in the arts industry:
Few Indigenous artists are fully aware of the role and practices
of the commercial art world and there is limited willingness to question those
practices and to insist on ethical written contracts and agreements. Education
at all levels is necessary in order to equip art centres, communities and
individual artists with a sense of the marketplace and its operation.
Furthermore, this is not exclusive to remote communities. Even
Indigenous communities in the urban environment are suffering from the same
There is a strong perception that urban artists have more access
to art industry services. This is not the case, many urban artists lack skill,
education, financial means and exhibiting opportunities as do artists in remote
centres. Queensland does not have the kind of infrastructure and support that
has been afforded Aboriginal artists of the Northern Territory, Western
Australia, and South Australian artists with the exception of Lockart River
and Arakun and more recently Mornington Island Community Art Centres.
Initiatives for the Indigenous arts
Moving beyond the basic issue of the low levels of Indigenous literacy
and numeracy, there are issues specific to Indigenous artists and the arts
industry. There are a number of initiatives being provided which attempt to
address different areas of disadvantage that Indigenous artists are
Indigenous Creative Business
For the Indigenous visual arts industry to be sustainable, Creative
Economy argued that the Indigenous people's capacity to participate in the
sector on an equal basis needed to be continually supported through knowledge
transfer and skills development.
To assist this, in 2004 Creative Economy initiated a business development
programme – the Indigenous Creative Business Development (ICBD) – to meet the
demand for improved business management.
The ICBD aims to:
- address the need for business skills relevant to participants’
own primary income activity;
- provide practical business assistance tailored to the specific
needs of the applicants;
- provide business mentoring at the participants’ location;
- share knowledge in a culturally appropriate way; and
- support individuals to develop the capacity to conduct successful
Creative Economy claimed that the program is highly effective not only
in its delivery and results but also in its administration.
[It] increases management capabilities, business skills and
participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in sustainable
enterprises. ICBD is the only program of its kind in Australia focused on the
creative sector and provides practical business to business mentoring and
skills development. The ICBD program is a key strategy to improve practice,
increase capacity and minimise unethical trade to contribute to the
sustainability of the sector.... For the past three years Indigenous Business
Australia (IBA) has supported Indigenous clients to access ICBD to receive
tailored, practical and culturally sensitive business assistance to support
their capacity building and economic self-sufficiency aspirations.
While Creative Economy aims to educate Indigenous artists about business
skills, Viscopy aims to educate artists and staff about copyright issues. To
that end, Viscopy conducts a copyright education program know as Copy Rite.
The program operates by delivering workshops, and travels to Indigenous communities
throughout remote, regional and metropolitan Australia, free of charge to the
artists. Workshops employ visual techniques developed with the World Intellectual
Property Organisation Traditional Knowledge protocol, are delivered by
Indigenous staff, and make use of community based translators where necessary.
The Copy Rite Indigenous visual copyright education program is
currently funded by a grant from the Department of Communications, Information
Technology and the Arts (DCITA) and aims to:
- educate and provide advice to Indigenous artists and communities
regarding copyright protection, and how to best to preserve and exploit the
rights in their own works;
- assist with the resolution of issues as they arise;
- refer reports of infringements and market issues to Viscopy
and/or other relevant bodies;
- educate artists with regard to the importance of Wills and
Estates to protect copyright for their beneficiaries;
- promote the licensing services and royalty benefits of Viscopy
- advocate for the better protection of Indigenous artists from
market and social abuses.
Artists in the Black
Lack of artist education is a hindrance when trying to litigate against
and the evidence indicated that there is a lack of knowledge amongst artists on
their legal rights. Arts Law Centre of Australia claimed to have an extensive
program to educate artists and arts workers about legal rights and obligations
of the arts sector.
They argued that:
Financial success and sustainability is more likely when
Indigenous artists and communities are fully aware of their rights and are able
to negotiate the terms of purchase and use of their work. Increased access to
legal financial and management education and advice services is critical to
Arts Law have set up a program – Artists in the Black (AITB) – which
provides free legal advice services, legal education and advocacy services to
and on behalf of Indigenous artists and arts organisations throughout Australia.
It is staffed by an Indigenous lawyer and an Indigenous information officer and
is the only national service of its kind. 
Of the numerous submissions received, few gave any details of tertiary
courses available for the Indigenous visual arts sector. However, Griffith University
began a course in 1995 – the Bachelor of Visual Arts in Contemporary Australian
Indigenous Art – which is claimed to be unique to the Australian university
system. The course centres around Indigenous Australian students' research into
their own cultures and looks at the way those cultures continue to be viable in
a rapidly changing society. 
Jennifer Herd commended the course and argued:
Sustainability and improvement for the sector can be achieved
through adequate training and education. So far our program is the only program
at any Australian University that offers a program of study in the visual arts
with both theory and practice for Aboriginal artists. The program is taught by
Aboriginal lecturers who are practicing artists themselves. There is an
opportunity for government to support what is already being done and proven to
be working and assist us through further funding initiatives to improve the
capacity of Australia’s Indigenous artists and their earning potential. Current
programs and centres offering training need ongoing support. Particularly
courses that are supported by the community, such as CAIA that has been
operating for 10 years.
The Queensland Government recognises the need for education and training
and supports the University of Griffith's course:
There is a very real need to address education and training,
skill shortages in communities and succession planning for Indigenous visual
arts and craft practitioners and administrators. Certificates in Aboriginal or
Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts at Cairns TAFE and the Bachelor of Visual
Arts in Contemporary Indigenous Art course offered by the Queensland College of
Art Griffith University were the first and remain the most substantial
qualifications available in this field.
Like many other aspects of the Indigenous arts industry there have been,
through a variety of submissions, calls for greater funding support for these
and other education programs. For example, Artsource recommends that the Government
provide ongoing assured program funds to ensure that the education and
understanding that artists and the industry require can be provided.
The National Association for the Visual Arts Ltd (NAVA) recommends:
that the Government should work with industry organisations and
training providers to co-ordinate, and where appropriate, fund the development
and delivery of extended forms of education and training to address current
instances of unfair exchange between artists and markets including education on
market value, copyright, Indigenous moral rights and appropriation.
New Zealand initiatives
The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage provided a submission
to the inquiry which the committee received with interest.
The submission outlined a number of education initiatives designed to
strengthen their Indigenous arts industry, including artist training and
education in intellectual property rights.
One example is the Domestic Traditional Knowledge Work Program. Run by
the Ministry of Economic Development, this program is a three staged
intellectual property and traditional knowledge work plan. It responds to
concerns raised by Maori and by indigenous people internationally, about the
impact of intellectual property systems on traditional knowledge both in terms
of cultural preservation and economic development opportunities.
Creative New Zealand has launched a programme aimed at the development
and preservation of Maori arts. Toi Ake is a resource and
funding program that has a long term focus on nurturing and strengthening arts
within Maori communities. Toi Ake has been tailored by iwi
(tribes) and arts practitioners into a model that focuses on development and
retention of Maori arts, both traditional and contemporary. It assists with
planning, training and management to support the long term strength of Maori
The committee found the New Zealand submission informative, and believes
that there may be some initiatives which may warrant consideration for the
Indigenous visual art industry.
Education of consumers
There are currently a number of initiatives designed to educate
consumers about Indigenous art, methods by which to ensure that the arts'
authenticity, and to undermine illegal and unethical activity.
Consumer education can be divided into domestic and international, however in
both cases it aims to ensure that the consumer is aware of the arts'
authenticity, and that the customer can be confident that payments provided are
of fair value and that the money will be provided to the recognised, legitimate
artist. There is a strong recognition that such education will assist in
curtailing unethical activity,
and help establish and support Indigenous intellectual property rights.
The Northern Territory
Government strongly supports the education of consumers and has provided
funding and support through joint programs. One such example is the co-project
with ANKAAA; the Purchasing Australian Aboriginal Art – A Consumer Guide
...the Northern Territory government is very keen to pursue ... the education of ...
consumers, so that they have an awareness of what they are actually purchasing
and what they are looking at when they go to galleries. So through ANKAAA, the
Northern Territory government has funded the consumer brochures, which we now have
in four languages, to assist tourists coming into the country to get some
background and to understand copyright law, intellectual property, moral rights
and all the different aspects of purchasing Indigenous art.
ANKAAA has also produced a Guide to Aboriginal Art that helps
direct buyers to Indigenous owned enterprises. The committee was also shown the
Indigenous Visual Arts and Craft Resource Directory, a major project of
DCITA, prepared with the assistance of other organisations. This directory is now
in its fourth edition, created in 2006.
It is a valuable resource for all in the sector, whether artists, other
industry participants or consumers. The committee notes the current process, led
by the National Association for the Visual Arts, that will result in an
Indigenous Art Commercial Code of Conduct (see chapter 10). One vehicle for
encouraging the adoption of the Code would be to ensure that only
Code-compliant organisations are included in future editions of the Resource
The committee recommends that future editions of the Indigenous Visual
Arts and Craft Resource Directory only include entries for entities that
maintain appropriate compliance with the Indigenous Art Commercial Code of
Other initiatives include those of arts centres and galleries. Birrung
Gallery has established an educational program of free public lectures on
various topics that regularly inform the public of art market information. These
have included forums on a variety of subjects including 'Indigenous Art as
Purchasers of Indigenous art are generally positive about the industry,
and supporting Indigenous artists. Papunya Tula Artists have noted that
consumers respond positively to education.
Papunya Tula Artists (PTA) has recognised consumer education as
an essential factor and, along with all interstate galleries related to PTA,
has attempted to bring consumers up to date with current industry issues. Many
consumers are not aware of such issues but respond very positively when things
are explained in greater detail. Often those who previously purchased work
without knowing its origins have immediately altered their philosophy and only
deal with art centres, or with their referred dealers interstate. Consumers, on
the whole, want to support Aboriginal artists and do the right thing by the
industry, but, in general, they lack the background knowledge to make an
The Cross Cultural Art Exchange concurs:
Education of all industry sectors is an important process to
combat unscrupulous and unethical conduct. Most consumers, when made aware of
industry issues, are more than interested and happy to proceed with their
purchase knowing that it is ethically correct.
Like education for Indigenous artists there have been, through a variety
of submissions, calls for greater funding support for consumer education
programs. Christine Godden, while recognising that some initiatives have
occurred, argued they are not substantive enough and recommends that
substantial funds should be available for a nation wide, consumer education
campaign about purchasing authentic Aboriginal art.
Alex Malik, while positive about the initiative, himself discussed the
lack of resourcing in the context of the ANKAAA/NT Government brochure.
This brochure contains information regarding the piracy and
counterfeiting of Indigenous Aboriginal art and craft. However the existence of
this type of brochure appears to be a rare incidence.
The absence of brochures and information sheets other than this
brochure demonstrates that there is a need for greater Government education in
The growing interest in Australian Indigenous visual art and the
international price increase of visual art generally indicates that there is a
larger and more lucrative market for Indigenous art.
Given this, there are opportunities that could perhaps be better exploited with
a more educated international market.
A key aspect of the education of international purchasers of Indigenous
art is to provide greater information to tourists. The National Association for
the Visual Arts Ltd (NAVA) is seeking to promote an initiative in conjunction
with the tourist industry.
We are starting negotiations with the tourism industry, in particular,
because the way that purchasers of Indigenous arts approach the enterprise is
often on the basis of no knowledge or a lack of awareness of what is at stake. We
feel that if those who are buying Indigenous arts were better educated and
their commitment was increased to understand the consequences of not observing
the appropriate standards we might get some improvement.
There was a recognition in a number of submissions that education is
required for the international market. ANKAAA argued that:
In the newly burgeoning international market there needs to be a
focussed education campaign to complement export opportunities in regards to
the cultural significance of the works but also the diversity of culture,
country and art forms across Australia. There also needs to be an educational
push for the sector regarding the different market focuses of identified
International opportunities. Cultural tourism within specific Art Centres is
providing a unique experience for international visitors and providing
interaction with a variety of community members.
Ms Apolline Kohen, Arts Director, Maningrida Arts and Culture, also sees
the potential for exploiting the international market:
Another area where the government can make a significant
difference is to help us genuine representatives of Indigenous artists to
promote Aboriginal art overseas. We need to enter new markets before we reach
saturation at the domestic level. To help us access new markets, I urge the
government to embark on a promotional and educational effort to make Aboriginal
art better known overseas. Exposure to good quality works through educational
shows will provide a springboard for the establishment of new markets for
organisations like our art centre. Additionally, we would welcome support for
international market research. There is considerable scope for art centres to
exploit the export market.
There has been some cooperation between agencies in promoting Indigenous
art for export through education. Desart, in conjunction with Austrade, ANKAAA
and the Northern Territory Government, has been engaged in a number of export
related projects, particularly over the past two years, including hosting
inbound trade missions in partnerships; conducting a research project with
identifying export pathways for Indigenous art; and hosting a research project
with the University of Sydney International Entrepreneurship business course to
consider pathways and opportunities for new products.
Austrade, the Federal Government's agency tasked with helping more
Australians succeed in export and international business by providing advice,
market intelligence and support to Australian companies,
see themselves as having an important role:
Education for all stakeholders is of primary importance in order
to achieve the best export outcomes. Here, Austrade can play a pivotal role in
disseminating information to consolidators on export opportunities, services,
and international market trends. Indigenous arts consolidators can in turn
educate Austrade on the mechanisms of the Indigenous arts industry, the issues
affecting the export of art, the preferences for particular clients, and the
pathways to supporting ethical trade practice. Austrade and Indigenous arts
consolidators can combine their expertise in helping to inform the foreign
market about Indigenous art and its availability.
The Northern Territory Government believes that there is some scope for
Austrade assisting art promotion.
However Austrade has also come in for some criticism with one submission describing
the organisation as 'friendly, [but] needs to earn its income – it is usually
unskilled in regard to assisting in the arts area'.
New Zealand initiatives
The initiatives in New Zealand, discussed above, in many cases extend to
the education of the international market. For example, the Domestic
Traditional Knowledge Work Programme involves providing education to the
international market through the issuing of 'International Fact Sheets' on the
issue of intellectual property and traditional knowledge.
Toi Maori Aotearoa is a charitable trust established in 1996 and it aims
to foster the development of Maori arts.
Toi Maori Aotearoa annually produces a wide range of events and activities that
include festivals, exhibitions, performances, publications and workshops that
relate to a wide spectrum of Maori art forms.
One Toi Maori Aotearoa initiative was the ‘Maori Art Meets America’ – a
joint venture between Toi Maori Aotearoa and Tourism New Zealand. Over fifty Maori
artists and dignitaries travelled together to San Francisco to participate in
the opening ceremonies and exhibition. Tourism New Zealand hosted an evening of
hospitality and entertainment for over 300 business people and officials and
Air New Zealand hosted a separate though similar event.
Again, the committee believes there may be some advantage in looking
more closely at some of these initiatives to see if there are similar ways in
which the international market can become better educated about and exposed to
Australian Indigenous visual art.
Ensuring effective education to support the industry
Education has been identified through many submissions and witness
testimony as a key potential driver for improvements in the Indigenous visual
arts and crafts industry. These submissions and testimony have generally
recognised the importance of current education and training programs and argued
that relatively small increases in resources could have a great positive effect
in terms of facilitating improvements in the industry.
The committee believes many of the education and training initiatives
about which it heard are worthwhile. However, as the chapter on art centres
showed, there appear to be some very pressing skills development needs in this
industry, particularly in relation to such areas as business management and
planning, accounting, marketing and governance. The committee acknowledges the
work of Desart and ANKAAA, through initiatives such as the Desart Training
It seems nevertheless that much more needs to be done.
There were many suggestions made during the course of the inquiry,
ranging from new university courses to on-site on-the-job training. The
committee felt that while the case for education and training is strong, the
preferred mechanisms to deliver it successfully are not clear at this stage.
The committee recommends that DCITA, in consultation with DEST, develop
programs to deliver education and training in the sector particularly in
- governance and business planning and management;
- artists' rights and responsibilities;
- artistic development for artists; and
- education of the market.
The committee received some evidence from Creative Economy that
suggested there may be issues in the way government programs may be assisting in
meeting skills development and training goals.
DCITA states in its objectives for its NACIS program that it
aims to ‘strengthen governance and business management practices in the
industry’. However, under the heading ‘Activities the program does not support’,
it lists activities ‘the purpose of which is not principally for production,
promotion or marketing of visual arts and crafts’. The great breadth of
business management, business development and skills development are not
eligible activities under the program, so we were not eligible to apply under
DCITA’s program. DCITA states in its submission that it is the key agency that
advises and the key agency particularly for arts centres, but the activities to
actually strengthen governance and business management do not fit within the
The committee was disappointed in the failure of both the Office of
Indigenous Policy Coordination and Indigenous Business Australia to provide
submissions, despite repeated invitations to do so, and this has limited the
committee's analysis of some issues. The committee also notes that the NACIS
program is currently being evaluated by the Office of Evaluation and Audit
(Indigenous Programs) (OEAIP) in the Department of Finance and Administration.
It recognises that there is already extremely strong competition for access to
NACIS funds. The committee understands that increasing the range of activities
that NACIS supports may need to be linked to increased resources to make this
Without wishing to pre-empt any findings from the OEAIP evaluation, it
does seem to the committee that, if anything, business management and
governance are probably the areas in most pressing need of greater training
activities in the industry. This may be an area where the alignment between the
Indigenous Art Centres Strategy and Action Plan and NACIS funding needs to be
The committee recommends that, subject to the acceptance of its
recommendation in chapter 4 for an expansion of NACIS scheme funding, the
Commonwealth review the relevant funding guidelines to ensure governance and
business management training activities are supported.
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