Chapter 7 - Education and training

Chapter 7 - Education and training


7.1        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 many submissions:

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.[1]

7.2        Given this perception, this chapter aims to examine issues surrounding:

7.3        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.

7.4        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

7.5        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.

7.6        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.[2]

7.7        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

7.8        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.[3]

7.9        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) experience.[4]

7.10      The lack of training, harsh conditions and cultural challenges result in a high turnover of staff, exacerbating the problems. The Australia Council noted:

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.[5]

7.11      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.[6] 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 submissions.[7]

7.12      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:[8]

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. [9]

Such training could also be complemented by on-line training.[10]

7.13      In 1997, the Queensland Government conducted an inquiry into the Indigenous cultural industry in Queensland.[11] 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.[12] 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.

7.14      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.

7.15      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 established.[13] 

Federal government programs

7.16      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.[14]

7.17      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'.[15] 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.

7.18      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.[16]

7.19      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.

7.20      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.[17]


7.21      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 program.

7.22      CDEP activities can also lead to the development of business enterprises. The overall aim is to support Indigenous people to achieve economic independence.[18] 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.[19]

7.23      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.[20]

7.24      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 indicated that:

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 activity places.[21]

7.25      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.[22]

7.26      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.[23] 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

7.27      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.[24]

7.28      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.[25] This limit does not apply to remote areas where CDEP participants are not subject to a specific time limit.

7.29      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).

7.30      CDEP will cease in the following locations:

7.31      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 employment successes.[27]

7.32      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.[28]

7.33      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.[29]

7.34      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.[30]

7.35      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.[31]

7.36      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.[32]

CDEP cross subsidisation

7.37      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.[33]

7.38      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.[34]

7.39      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 industry.

7.40      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.

Recommendation 11

7.41      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.

Other programs

7.42      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.[35] 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.[36]

7.43      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 of:

This overview is intended to allow Desart to facilitate combining the correct mix of people, ideas and funding so as to initiate programs.

7.44      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 it;

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.[38]

Education and training of artists

The bigger picture

7.45      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.

7.46      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.[39]

7.47      Furthermore, this is not exclusive to remote communities. Even Indigenous communities in the urban environment are suffering from the same problems:

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.[40]

Initiatives for the Indigenous arts industry

7.48      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 experiencing.

Indigenous Creative Business Development

7.49      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.[41] 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.

7.50      The ICBD aims to:

7.51      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.[43]

Copy Rite

7.52      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.[44]

7.53      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:

Artists in the Black

7.54      Lack of artist education is a hindrance when trying to litigate against 'carpet baggers',[46] 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.[47] 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 informing artists.[48]

7.55      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. [49]

Tertiary education

7.56      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. [50] 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.[51]

7.57      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.[52]

7.58      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.[53] 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.[54]

New Zealand initiatives

7.59      The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage provided a submission to the inquiry which the committee received with interest.[55] The submission outlined a number of education initiatives designed to strengthen their Indigenous arts industry, including artist training and education in intellectual property rights.

7.60      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.[56]

7.61      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 arts.[57]

7.62      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

7.63      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.[58] 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,[59] and help establish and support Indigenous intellectual property rights.[60]

Domestic programs

7.64      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 brochure.[61]

...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.[62]

7.65      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.[63] 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 Directory.

Recommendation 12

7.66      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 Conduct.

7.67      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 Investment'.[64]

7.68      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 informed decision.[65]

7.69      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.[66]

7.70      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.[67]

7.71      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 this area.[68]

International programs

7.72      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.[69] Given this, there are opportunities that could perhaps be better exploited with a more educated international market.

7.73      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.[70]

7.74      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.[71]

7.75      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.[72]

7.76      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.[73]

7.77      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,[74] 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.[75]

7.78      The Northern Territory Government believes that there is some scope for Austrade assisting art promotion.[76] 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'.[77]

New Zealand initiatives

7.79      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.[78]

7.80      Toi Maori Aotearoa is a charitable trust established in 1996 and it aims to foster the development of Maori arts.[79] 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.

7.81      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.[80]

7.82      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

7.83      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.

7.84      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 Book.[81] It seems nevertheless that much more needs to be done.

7.85      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.

Recommendation 13

7.86      The committee recommends that DCITA, in consultation with DEST, develop programs to deliver education and training in the sector particularly in relation to:

7.87      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 guidelines...[82]

7.88      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.[83] 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 possible.

7.89      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 re-examined.

Recommendation 14

7.90      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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