Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support fact sheet

Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support fact sheet (PDF 1.7 MB)

Australian Government funding to strengthen the Indigenous visual arts industry

Indigenous visual art is fundamentally important to Australian culture and has been growing in critical recognition for many years.

Through visual art, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples express culture, identity and their intrinsic relationship with their country.

Through Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support (IVAIS), the Australian Government provides funding to Indigenous art centres and allied industry support organisations to help build a stronger Indigenous visual arts industry.

The industry has been built on the work of Indigenous-owned art centres which produce and market some of Australia's most dynamic visual art, while also building capacity, maintaining and transmitting culture and generating income and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

The Australian Government's IVAIS funding:

  • supports the operations of Indigenous art centres, and organisations involved in the production, promotion and marketing of Indigenous visual art
  • provides opportunities for Indigenous artists to maintain, develop and extend their professional art practice
  • provides opportunities for art centre staff, artists and board members to develop professional skills and experience
  • facilitates the delivery of services to the Indigenous visual arts industry by industry support organisations.

When I paint I am thinking about law from a long time ago, I am thinking about the country, my country. I like painting, it's good, I get pamarr (rock, stone money) for it, I can buy my food, tyres, fix my car, I give some money to family and I keep some for me.
Wakartu Cory Surprise, Mangkaja Arts, Fitzroy Crossing, WA


Image: Nyinku Kulitja and Martha Protty, two sisters and long-term Tjanpi artists from Docker River, NT, showcase their work for the Tjanpi Desert Weavers book. Tjanpi Weavers is a Deadly Award winning IVAIS funded project by the NPY Women’s Council. Source: Rhett Hammerton
Image: Nyinku Kulitja and Martha Protty, two sisters and long-term Tjanpi artists from Docker River, NT, showcase their work for the Tjanpi Desert Weavers book. Tjanpi Weavers is a Deadly Award winning IVAIS funded project by the NPY Women's Council. Source: Rhett Hammerton

Research shows that:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to be employed in visual arts and crafts occupations in their main job (52%) than non-Indigenous people (9.7%)1
  • Despite the noticeable downturn of sales in the sector since 2007, paid employment in art centres has more than doubled2
  • Art centres play a pivotal role in community building and build the capacity of Aboriginal people to contribute to the governance of community organisations in the town3
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists reinvest around 40% of their income from art sales back into their art centres4
  • For these small enterprises this has proven to be a very stable and viable model. Approximately 77% of the art centres funded through IVAIS in 2008–09 were still funded in 2011–125
  • Participation in cultural activities such as Indigenous arts is linked to wellbeing.6

What Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support is achieving

Building a stronger Indigenous visual arts industry and economic opportunities for Indigenous artists

In 2011–12, the Government provided $10.9 million through IVAIS including:

  • support for around 90 Indigenous art centres, most in remote communities
  • $1.5 million for five industry support organisations to deliver services to Indigenous art centres
  • $0.5 million for eight professional development and training activities for the industry.

In 2011–12, 310 arts worker positions based in IVAIS funded organisations were supported through the Australian Government's Indigenous Employment Initiative.

Image: Judith Anya Samson begins work on Rabbit Proof Fence, collaboration between herself and her grandmother, Dadda. This work is part of the Art Gallery of Queensland, Gallery of Modern Art Collection. Country Arts WA, Aboriginal Art Centre Hub Western Australia (AACHWA). Source: Gabrielle Sullivan
Image: Judith Anya Samson begins work on Rabbit Proof Fence, collaboration between herself and her grandmother, Dadda. This work is part of the Art Gallery of Queensland, Gallery of Modern Art Collection. Country Arts WA, Aboriginal Art Centre Hub Western Australia (AACHWA). Source: Gabrielle Sullivan

We teach artists to use art as a way to express how they feel, to tell a story whether it is their story or their forefathers', which is still their story.
Buyinbin Aboriginal Corporation, NSW

Supporting Indigenous artists

Over 6500 artists are involved in IVAIS funded art centres, including over 3670 'core' artists regularly attending an art centre.

The majority (57%) of core artists in IVAIS funded art centres are women.

11% of core artists are females aged over 61. The largest group is females aged 26–45, accounting for 22% of core artists.

Women also play the major role in the governance of art centres.2

Age and gender of core artists
chart sohone age and gender of core artists.

Generating economic opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

In 2011–12, the most common percentage of art sales paid to Indigenous artists in IVAIS funded art centres was 60%.

The remaining percentage of sales is retained to run the art centre, meaning that 100% of art sale profits return to the community.

Most art centres are owned and managed by Indigenous people in their own communities.

Purchasing art sourced from an Australian Government funded art centre provides a guarantee to the public that the artwork is authentic.

Image: Artist Raymond Bulambula Working on ‘Sacred Rock - a river mouth where saltwater and freshwater meet’ Ochre on Canvas -Milingimbi Art Centre. Source: Zanette Kahler
Image: Artist Raymond Bulambula Working on 'Sacred Rock - a river mouth where saltwater and freshwater meet' Ochre on Canvas -Milingimbi Art Centre. Source: Zanette Kahler

Supporting professional development, training and capacity building for a strong industry

In 2011–12:

  • IVAIS funded art centres delivered over 550 workshops and artist residencies and over 650 professional development or
    training opportunities
  • IVAIS funded industry support organisations delivered around 140 activities (industry advocacy assistance, training or other services) to around 1370 organisations and individuals.

Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities across regional and remote Australia

In 2011–12, IVAIS provided:

  • $7 million for activities in remote Australia, including $2.1 million for activities in 19 priority remote service delivery communities
  • $2 million for activities in regional Australia.

Image: Artist Gordon Ingkatji with his ceramic work to be exhibited at the SA Museum. Ernabella Arts, SA. Source: Julian Green © Artists and Ernabella Arts
Image: Artist Gordon Ingkatji with his ceramic work to be exhibited at the SA Museum. Ernabella Arts, SA. Source: Julian Green © Artists and Ernabella Arts

Closing the Gap

IVAIS contributes to Closing the Gap targets by supporting the following building blocks:

  • Economic participation: In many remote communities, art sales are the primary or only source of non-government income. Art centres provide jobs, business skills, self-employment opportunities and training.
  • Governance and leadership: Most art centres are Indigenous-owned enterprises that are governed by Indigenous artists and community leaders.
  • Safe communities: Communities with strong art centres are more likely to be safer communities because art centres enhance social cohesion and promote respect for traditional culture. Some art centres function as 'safe-houses'.
  • Health: Most art centres are community hubs that support better health outcomes through increased income, employment, engagement, strong culture, and through practical initiatives such as nutrition education, bush-tucker gardens and providing meals.

As strong culture is fundamental to Indigenous wellbeing, support for Indigenous culture through the visual arts provides a solid foundation to enable outcomes across the building blocks and targets.

Contributing to other policy objectives

IVAIS contributes to a number of other Australian Government objectives and international commitments, including the:

  • Indigenous Art Code
  • Indigenous Economic Development Strategy
  • National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Economic Participation
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

IVAIS funding is administered by the Office for the Arts.

References

  1. ABS, 2006, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: Involvement in Arts and Culture (cat. no. 4721.0), Canberra.
  2. Office of the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations, 2012, At the Heart of Art: A snapshot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations in the visual arts sector, Commonwealth of Australia.
  3. Cooper, T., S. Bahn, and M. Giles, 2012, Investigating the Social Welfare Indicators of Aboriginal Regional Art Centres: A Pilot study, Edith Cowan University.
  4. The Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, 2007, Indigenous Art—Securing the Future, Canberra.
  5. Office for the Arts.
  6. ABS, 2010, The City and the Bush: Indigenous Wellbeing Across Remoteness Areas (cat no. 41020.0), in Australian Social Trends, September 2010, Canberra.