Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007

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Parliamentary Record 12


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Wednesday 14 February 2007 3885 position. As a result, substantial economic benefits flow back through the artists families and into the community, and the quality of life of the people has improved through better access to benefits such as good food, furniture, whitegoods and other items of value. Profits the artists have reinvested back into Warlukurlangu have allowed the art centre to build not only a new office and gallery, but also much-needed staff and visitor accommodation. The arts centre is currently represented by well established, ethical commercial galleries in capital cities. It manages a busy exhibition schedule. These commercial galleries permit Warlukurlangu to showcase the highly sought after paintings produced by senior artists. The beautiful artwork from Warlukurlangu artists has been collected by public art galleries and museums for many years. Many of the family artists, such as Paddy Tjapaltjarri Simms and Paddy Tjapaltjarri Stewart are now painting alongside their children and grandchildren. The arts centre has developed very effective sales strategies and business systems, which have been supported by marked improvements in the quality of the work. This has partly been achieved through the introduction of best practice preparation, conservation and storage techniques for artwork, and improved stock maintenance systems. Warlukurlangu staff also actively engage with the artists to support them in the production of quality fine art. Because of the best practice systems employed by Warlukurlangu, it has become a centre of excellence. It is able to share its knowledge, systems and experience with smaller Aboriginal arts centres right across the Northern Territory and it has been generous in doing so. Feedback from the artists at Yuendumu is that while the money that flows from strong sales is highly valued, Warlukurlangus role in supporting social and cultural objectives and activities is equally important. As well as providing, for example, bush, interstate and sometimes international trips for artists, the arts centre makes a major contribution to the Yuendumu community through the eye and dog health programs. It is currently making a substantial contribution to the new community swimming pool and is now looking to implement an ear program, including surgery for Yuendumu children. Another leading arts centre in Central Australia is, of course, the original art company, Papunya Tula owned by its shareholders, indigenous artists from the Western Desert. Like Warlukurlangu artists in Yuendumu, Papunya Tula is closely involved in a number of desert communities as well as running its highly successful commercial enterprise headquartered in Alice Springs. It is quite well known that Papunya Tula artists support the Western Desert Dialysis Unit, which provides dialysis for Aboriginal people in Central Australia, but not many people understand the level of support that the company has actually provided. The manager has stated that without Papunya Tula, the dialysis unit would not exist. As well as the $1.1m that made up the original donation, Papunya Tula is providing ongoing support, most recently some $200 000 raised for the unit by auctions of artworks held in London and Paris. The unit provides dialysis in both the remote community of Kintore and in Alice Springs, as well as self-care education for renal patients, employment of patient support workers, and other activities such as trips to country for patients and the Renal Choir. These services are for Aboriginal people from right across the Western Desert. Papunya Tula Artists provides more social support than just the dialysis unit. They are currently working with other groups such as the Kumantjayi Perkins Childrens Trust to raise funds for a community swimming pool at Kintore. Last September, they facilitated and funded an excursion for young Kintore boys to Melbourne to meet positive role models and experience the opportunities in mainstream Australia. I have spoken at some length about Warlukurlangu artists and Papunya Tula because it is important to understand the economic, social and cultural benefits that art centres provide. There are about 35 Aboriginal arts centres in Central Australia and many more communities which are making art and participating in the industry. This is a remarkable achievement. We must remember that this industry involves many traditional people who, in Central Australia, have had very little exposure to Western business culture. It is a tribute to Aboriginal peoples adaptability that many artists have come to terms with contemporary business culture. On the whole, this has been most successful where artists have worked through their community art centres, where the arts staff, both white and indigenous, have provided a bridge between the artist and the market. For those artists in Central Australia without a community art centre, there have been more challenges. It is in this area of these unrepresented artists where many of the problems have arisen, which have resulted in the federal parliamentary inquiry. In my electorate, as well as having Aboriginal-owned art centres, there are also a number of artists who work directly for one or more private dealers. Not all dealers are unethical, and a number provide good support services and fair market returns for Aboriginal artists. Sadly, some