The Morrison Government has announced a new National Indigenous Visual Arts Action Plan (NIVAAP).

Chief amongst the policies within the plan, which aims to contribute to the Closing the Gap targets, is the connection of up to 80 Indigenous Arts Centres to the NBN. Further investment into art centres to improve their facilities and create better workspaces comes alongside the NBN focus.

The plan increases funding to $27 million per year into Indigenous Visual Art and additionally aims to create stronger markets for Indigenous art, both domestically and abroad, to consult Indigenous communities on intellectual protection, to provide more training and professional development to art centres, and promote ethical conduct in the sector.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher spoke to the National Indigenous Times exclusively on the NIVAAP.

“The aim of the action plan is to advance Indigenous Visual Arts and boost the market for Indigenous Visual Arts, recognising that it’s very, very important culturally as a way of non-Indigenous people to gain better understanding of Indigenous Art and their culture and history,” he said.

“But it’s also very important economically, because Indigenous Art is a significant source of income for many Indigenous Artists and the community.”

Minister Fletcher acknowledged that the NBN will aid the business and post-production side of Indigenous Art.

“When we did this audit and discovered that of the nearly 90 Indigenous Art Centres around the country supported by the Commonwealth, quite a significant proportion did not have broadband connection,” the Minister said.

“So, this will be connectivity to the Arts Centres, the cost of it will be covered [by the government] so the service will be there. It’s something we think we can move on fairly quickly.”

Minister Fletcher admitted that there’s “a real problem with fake art” currently.

He told the National Indigenous Times that through establishing a category of “Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property” and creating a “Certification Trademark” buyers of Indigenous Art can feel safe in that their purchases are authentic and genuine, therefore reducing risk, and aiming to improve demand.

Minister Fletcher further emphasised that whilst this plan specifically focuses on Visual Art, over $1 million has been given to Indigenous musical artists over the past 18 months, and continued support for other forms of Indigenous Art remains significant.

Paul Fletcher and Ken Wyatt – Provided by Fletcher’s Office.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs Ken Wyatt confirmed that the government worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to design the plan.

“We’ve undertaken extensive consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, together with commercial galleries, auction houses, wholesalers and the state and territory governments – because successful outcomes requires Indigenous Australians to be at the table,” he said in a statement.

“Visual art is an important vehicle for us to document and tell our stories, maintain and share culture and promote an understanding of history and Country.”

The plan will be assessed in December 2023 and adjusted where needed going forward to address the key issues in the Indigenous Visual Arts sector.

By Aaron Bloch

By Indana