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Ninti One CRC Remote Economic Participation
Project Update
APRIL 2016
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Economies

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Welcome to the Art Economies Project Update


Latest publications: Arts workers, Artists outside Art Centres and Art Centre sustainability.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Economies Project will complete its work at the end of June.  As part of finishing up, three projects have recently published research results. 


L-R: Kim Petersen and Rosie Nangala Flemming,Warlukurlangu Artist and Kim out in the field

Kim Petersen has been awarded a PhD for her work on the sustainability of art centres.  Kim spent time at three remote area art centres: Ikuntji and Warlukurlangu Artists in the Western Desert and Warmun Art Centre in the East Kimberley.  She investigated the business practices of each art centre, assessing how these practices contribute to their sustainability.  Kim’s work also mapped some of the additional benefits generated by art centres for individuals as well as overall community wellbeing.  Her thesis is
Sustainability of remote Aboriginal art centres in Australian desert communities.  

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Revealed Marketplace: Emerging Aboriginal Artists Western Australia. Photo: Tim Acker

Building on innovative field work by Dr Lisa Stefanoff, two new publications are available that, for the first time, investigate the working world of artists outside art centres.  Trade between private art businesses and independent artists has long attracted controversy; however, until now there has been no wide-ranging, serious examination of the reality for those artists working partly or fully outside art centres.  Key findings include:

  • About one quarter of independent artists work for both art centres and private art galleries and dealers.
  • Around 90% of independent artists have worked for more than five years and many for over 20 years.
  • While many artists reported a high level of confidence and were not put off by risks, there were also high levels of distrust and low levels of knowledge of where information or support could be found.
There are two reports available: the full research report and a summary.
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The Art Economies Project has always worked closely with Desart; the most recent collaboration was focused on Aboriginal arts workers.  This project interviewed arts workers in order to better understand their attitudes to work and their perceptions of working as an arts professional.  It is notable that this research recorded such positive attitudes to work, when mainstream perceptions of Aboriginal people’s attitudes to work are often so negative.  There are a wide range of findings, presented in the full report; among these are:
  • Arts workers highly value their employment
  • A wide range of benefits are generated
  • Arts workers have high levels of confidence about their work
  • One third of arts workers were interested in developing a career from their work and becoming an art centre manager.
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Stay in Contact


We invite you to pass this update onto colleagues and friends who might also be interested in this research. We always value feedback – contact details are below,
so please stay in touch or contact us for further information.

Tim Acker, Principal Research Leader,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Economies project,
Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation

Email: tim.acker@nintione.com.au
Mobile: 0410 038226

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