Change your life
eser t .
Manage in the d
Jane Young, Desart Chair
Werte! Marra! Welcome to your new job
as an Art Centre worker.
This little book has been made to help
you in your new job. There are stories
about how to do your job, where to go
for help, and problems new workers in
Art Centres have and how to solve them.
It also includes important information
about keeping safe, staying happy, our
law and working the right way.
About this Guidebook
This guidebook has been edited and
collated from the Desart archives – we
have a million stories to share from our
20-year history! We talked with Desart
Directors and staff, Art Centre Directors
and staff, industry peers and colleagues,
friends and supporters about what to
include: the key message is that you are
not alone. You have resources and people
at your disposal. (See the Index at back
of this book for quick access to specific
All text and images are ©Desart 2012,
unless otherwise stated, and cannot be
reproduced in whole or part without
express prior written permission.
Edition 2, 2012:
Coordinating editor – Desart Senior
Program Manager Michelle Culpitt
Images and captions – Desart Project
Officer Bronwyn Taylor
Additional editing – Desart Admin and
Finance Manager Mellisa Kramer
Designer – Tina Tilhard
Desart is kindly supported by:
Equip yourself with
the 11 key Art
Centre Management
Work Tools:
• this Guidebook
• the current Art Centre Business Plan
• the latest Art Centre Annual Report
with audited accounts
• up-to-date balance sheet and
profit-and-loss statements from your
• all Funding Agreements
• the Art Centre Policy and Procedures
• the Art Centre online manual ‘Go
Hunting’ –
• the online arts management database
SAM (Stories Art Money) –
• the Art Centre Rule Book – look up the
Art Centre at
• free, confidential counselling or
coaching and support –
EASA, ph. 1800 193 123
• the Desart team, ph. (08) 8953 4736
1. Culture
Aboriginal Kinship
Cultural Protocols
Some Meeting Tips
Art Centre Managers
Art Centres – A day in the life
of an Art Centre Informed Consent
Sorry Business
About Desart Inc.
Community life
Introduction from the Desart Chairperson
– Jane Young 14
Message to New Art Centre Workers from
Desart CEO – Philip Watkins 16
Message from the Desart Directors
to New Art Centre Workers
A Short History of Desart Inc.
Desart Advocacy
Desart Professional Development and
The Desart Team
Desert Mob
The Desert Mob Exhibition
Aboriginal Languages and Aboriginal English38
How to Dress in a Community
Don’t Take it Personally
Dog Tips
Am I an Alien?
Cross-Cultural Resources
2. Country
You are on Aboriginal Country
3. Art
Arts Development
The Desert Mob Symposium –
Stories from the artists
Desert Mob Pricing
Connecting the Artist with the Audience
The Desert Mob Market Place
Artists’ Career Development
The Desart Artworker Photography Prize 28
Exchanges on and away from Community 52
The Desart Desert Mob Closing Brunch
Community-Driven Projects
The Nine Areas of Art Centre Operations
Painting Tjukurpa
4. People
Art Centre People by Michelle Evans
What Makes a Good Art Centre Manager?
About Artworkers by Jane Young
Contracting and Working with Consultants 62
Nepotism and Conflict of Interest
Managing People and Duty of Care
Social networking and Photography in the
6. Finance and Economy
Financial Management
Account set up
Professional Conduct for
Art Centre Managers
Bookkeeping, Accountants, Auditors
5. Commercial and Administration
Understanding GST
11 Key Art Centre Management Work Tools 67
Grants Management and Reporting
Art Centre Policies and Procedures –
Go Hunting
The Stories, Art, Money (SAM) Database
The Aboriginal Arts Economy in the Centre:
Marketing and Policy Challenges
by Jon Altman
7. Political
Protocols for Visiting Ministers
Top 10 Legal Issues for Art Centres
by Arts Law
The Policy Environment
The Personal Property Securities Act
Community Politics
The Art Market
8. Social
Friends of the Art Centre
isee-ilearn the Art Centre Money Story
Unscrupulous People and the Art Centre
Marketing and Promotions
9. Built Environment
Working with the Media
Art Centres and the Built Environment
by Sue Dugdale
Art Centre Vehicles
Exhibitions by Yarrenyty–Arltere Learning
Road Conditions and Closues
The Indigenous Art Code
IT Infrastructure
The Artists’ Resale Royalty Scheme
IT Hardware and the False Economy
Things to Remember
Food and Drink
Survival Kit
Some Classic Dilemmas – Sound Familiar?107
Summary of the nine key areas
of Art Centres
Warning: an Art Centre can Close!
Help! I Need Someone, not Just Anyone
Important People and Numbers
Funding Bodies – Information,
Assistance and Support
Funding for Art Centres
Funding Agencies
Philanthropy/Other Arts Funding
Donga Delight
Orange Cake in an Orange
Good Ol’ Bush Store Salad
Hotel-Room Noodle Soup
Non-Fresh Breakfast
Non-Fresh Pasta
Community Politics and Drama
People in the Community Harassing
Artists to Buy Directly
Email Etiquette (the ‘email bandit’)
Professional Conduct and Diplomacy –
International Art Centre Travel:
how to be dazzling with Jet Lag!
Classic Scams
Recommended Reading
About Art Centres
On Aboriginal Art
On the Cross-Cultural Workplace
On Selling
Other Resources
Books and Blogs from Art Centres
Thinking about Leaving? Time to move on 111
The Hewitts
Outback Travel Advice by the Hewitts
Safety in a Remote Community by
the Hewitts
Art Centre Managers
In the early days of the 1970s and 1980s
there were barely a dozen Art Centres
operating in the remote outposts of
Central Australia – doing business by fax
machines, radio headsets and carbon
copy receipt books. Workers from outside
these outposts were employed to work
with artists as Art Advisors.
Over time, with increasing arts administration, shifts in government policy, a
growing arts and tourism industry and
incursion of commercial compliance,
these positions have become equal parts
business management, arts advisory and
market mediation – Art Centre Managers.
It is a pivotal role that has an enormous
impact on an Art Centres success or failure.
Art Centre Managers
Mwerre Anthurre Artists, Bindi Inc. Manager
Mel Henderson cataloguing artwork, photo
by Rhett Hammerton
TOP Ruby Williamson and
Wawiriya Burton at Tjala Arts,
photo by Skye O’Meara, © Tjala Arts
Art Centres
A day in the life of an Art
In a remote Aboriginal community on
a given day a worker heads out of their
front gate armed with a long list of things
to do. An Art Centre Manager’s best-laid
plans often go awry. A desert chill of
minus three keeps everyone in the
community snugly submerged under ten
piled-high blanket towers. Arriving at the
Art Centre…
A note from the Shire Services Manager is
taped to the door: Mail plane arriving at
9am today. It’s 8am.
Tearing the note away from the door –
half the new paint job comes with it –
I enter the Art Centre and look to the pile
of canvases on the studio floor where
I had been sitting with our Artworker
Janice the night before, until it got too
cold and the three bars on the radiator
heater were a useless glow. We got the
photography and cataloguing done, but I
hadn’t entered the consignment note into
the SAM (Stories, Art, Money) database or
completed the Exhibition Contract.
Probably a couple of hours work and
always easier with a second person to
double check and read out catalogue
Janice was on her way to Alice Springs as
BOTTOM Art Centre Manager Sophie
Wallace with Dulcie Sharp at Yarrenyty
Arltere Artists, photo by Rhett Hammerton
a medical escort for her cousin and I didn’t
want to humbug her, she gets such a small
salary and she worked until 9pm last night.
Her ride to Alice Springs will be picking her
up soon anyway. Alice Springs is a ten-hour
drive if you go flat-out, but there are always
places to stop along the way; a quick stop
at the Roadhouse could take an hour when
friends and family are there.
I now have an hour to pull it all together,
roll all the canvases in bubble wrap, slide
them into their cylinders and get them to
the plane. No point in stressing. Just do it.
The mail plane departs overhead with our
precious cargo en route more than 15,000
kilometres to New York City. It is just
after 9am. I gaze towards the expansive
blue sky: red dust billows and throws
small stones about, one catches me on
the cheek bone. An arts journalist from
a major national paper arrives at the Art
Centre – I calmly support nervous artists
and interpreters through the interview
and photo shoot, trying to keep out of the
scrutiny of the journalist and the story.
The journalist departs. Static and feedback
echoes out from a speaker: a community
consultation on a new government policy
is about to begin followed by a BBQ.
Several hours and sausages later, artists
and Art Centre workers are exhausted by
the consultation and retire home to
Art Centre Managers
decipher the body language and demeanor
of the government visitors. I make myself
known to the ‘Govie’ mob and offer a tour
of the Art Centre. One of the Art Centre
Directors joins the group. They have been
up all night with a community conflict and
a chest infection, sat patiently through the
consultation and now they are graciously
answering questions:
“So how many artists work here?”
“How long does it take to do a painting?”
“Do you have any exhibitions?”
He answers with a sly smiles, “Uwa, one’s
opening up in New York next month.”
The Director patiently explains the
importance of the Tjukurrpa (law) that the
Art Centre is named. The workers select
paintings. I issue receipts, certificates of
authenticity, artists’ biographies and wrap
the paintings up. The Government mob
are impressed by the EFTPOS facilities and
colour printouts, a few colour catalogues
from our last show at Alcaston Gallery are
thrown in for good measure. The Director
and I stand together on the verandah as
the Government mob go the way of the
journalist, fishtailing up the track to their
next consultation. Some days the traffic in
and out of the community is never-ending.
There isn’t even a moment to head
back inside. A clapped-out 2WD car,
every wheel rotating at a different angle
and momentum, no windscreens and
a Hawthorn emblem painted on the
bonnet, shudders and shakes to a stop.
It’s the Art Centre matriarch arriving from
her homeland nearby. Adults and kids
tumble out. A young girl carefully carries
a canvas. The old woman has a glint in her
eye – it’s something special. The canvas is
unraveled across the floor with a flourish,
an astonishing artwork that more than
a few people have worked together on.
Everyone sits around and admires the
work, soaking it up. The old lady pokes
me in the ribs and everybody laughs, it’s a
great work. The voice recorder is retrieved
from the office to take down the story and
catalogue and document the work. Older
artists talk in language and the younger
girl, who carried the canvas, interprets.
Everyone agrees that this work will be
the centrepiece for a group exhibition. The
wonky car crawls back down the road. The
canvas is rolled up around a cardboard
tube and placed on the exhibition shelf
with a new label, beginning the curation
of a new exhibition – a good job for Janice
when she comes back from Alice Springs.
By now its 4pm, lucky there was a BBQ at
the community meeting. Time to check
the emails that usually tumble down the
screen: 20, 30, 40 competing priorities. Not
today – the satellite is down and there’s
no internet connection. It will have to wait
until tomorrow. Now, back to that list of
things to do...
Art Centres
Art Centres are places of cultural
expression, empowerment, non-welfare
based income, local leadership, choice,
safety, health and wellbeing. Art Centres
provide a space where artists’ rights are
upheld. Art Centres work closely with
Arts Law – Artists in the Black, Viscopy,
Copyright Agency Ltd and the Indigenous
Art Commercial Code of Conduct.
Some Art Centres return more than $2
million per year into the community
through art sales, licensing and product
sales. Other Art Centres are aspirational
groups returning small amounts of profit,
enough to support local cultural events.
Some Art Centres show their work at the
Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney,
or under the lights and shine of
galleries in London and New York. Other
Art Centres exhibit under the flickering
fluoro tube and hip-hop soundtrack of the
local community hall. Art Centres are one
of the positive parts of Aboriginal
communities that the general public
rarely gets to see.
Art Centres are places where artists and
Artworkers undertake arts administration
training and employment, curatorial
jobs, language projects, trips to country,
professional development, access to new
technologies and travel across Australia
and the world to exhibitions and art fairs.
Art Centres are often the central point in
a community for experimentation and
creation – not just in art-making, but in
Aboriginal business management,
leadership, cross-cultural engagement,
choice, freedom and expression.
About Desart Inc.
Desart Inc. was formed in 1991 to
advocate for the independence of remote
Aboriginal Art Centres in Central Australia.
More than 20 years later, Desart remains
the Aboriginal arts, cultural and business
authority for Central Australian Aboriginal
Art Centres. Desart is directed by an
Aboriginal board of 10 members,
representing Art Centres across five
regions of Central Australia.
More than 50 Art Centres located across
the Northern Territory, Western Australia
and South Australia are members of
Desart. The Desart office is based in Alice
Springs, however, Desart Directors, staff,
artists, arts business specialists and
Artworkers travel more than 200,000
km a year on dusty, corrugated, red-dirt
roads and in tiny planes to support and
work for our remote member Art Centres
across the outback.
About Desart Inc.
Introduction from th
ne Young
D esa
When I was small, I travelled all around
with my mother and father to Granite
Downs station, Alice Springs, Todd River
Station and Oodnadatta. When the Little
Flower mission moved from Arltunga
to Santa Teresa, my mum put me in the
dormitory with the older girls there and
that is where I grew up in the 1950s. My
mum, Agnes Abbott, is from Santa Teresa
and my father is a Western Arrernte man
from Hermannsburg. I have lived all over
Central Australia and now I live at Hidden
Valley in Alice Springs with Agnes and our
Jane Young ‘Little rocks in Simpson Desert’
2011 Acrylic on plastic, Tangentyere Artists,
photo by Shauna Tilmouth, © Tangentyere Artists
I have travelled around and visited a lot
of Art Centres, even on Thursday Island.
I have seen Aboriginal people working
in a lot of Art Centres, working together
with whitefellas and artists. Before, there
were no Art Centres; then, in 1949, only
Ernabella Arts. Now new Art Centres
are coming up everywhere. Whether
Aboriginal people have an Art Centre or
not, they still have their culture.
Aboriginal people feel strong with culture.
Before white people came to Australia,
Aboriginal people painted on the ground
and in the caves. Aboriginal people used
to tell stories on the ground too. That’s
how they kept their culture strong. The
art today is strong from that. We paint
our stories on canvas and it is sold across
the world. Our stories are told to the
outside world, who don’t know about
Aboriginal culture. We are also
artefact-makers, carving coolamons
and boomerangs out of wood.
When I was little my aunty and my
Mum’s grandfather told us bedtime
stories, we used to just sit around
and listen, my grandfather would
sing the story, tell us the stories about
everything. I remember all the stories
the old people told us. Now we have
got the new generation. They tell stories
Introduction from the Desart Chairperson – Jane Young
Jane Young painting at Keringke Arts
in 1994 with her daughter Rosario Young
and Jane’s grandson
Some people say that Art Centres were
set up by white people and are for
white people. To me that’s not true.
Some people don’t know the difference
between an art gallery and an Aboriginal
Art Centre. Number one – Aboriginal
Art Centres belong to us, to Aboriginal
people. Art Centres are places where
you can paint, people come and talk
story, a lot of people come together. It’s a
happy place for everyone. We don’t have
violence in our Art Centres. You can feel
comfortable to sit down and talk about
art and culture or if you have a problem.
The Art Centre is for the community not
for private people. Art Centres do all
kinds of work and programs to support
families and culture.
tre Workers
ilip Watkins
from Desart CEO – Ph
“Art Centres are important community
places. They are innovative and vibrant
spaces where culture is kept strong,
passed on between old and young, and
places where Aboriginal people can share
our arts and culture with the world.”
rt Directors
to New Art Centre Wo
The Desart Directors are elected from each
desert region – Central Desert, Barkly,
North West, APY Lands, Ngaanyatjarra/
West. These messages are from the
Directors to new Art Centre Workers in
Central Australia:
“Culture is the most important thing for
Aboriginal people. If we didn’t have our
culture we wouldn’t have anything.”
“You need to know all about the cultural
side, some people can be near you, and
some people can’t.”
[See the Culture section, page 33, for
avoidance relationships and the kinship
“Understand that Aboriginal people have
busy lives and wear a lot of different
“Every day we have to support our
families – we have a lot of worries.”
“Art Centres should be quiet, happy
places with no violence.”
“There must be clear rules – the use of
the phone, vehicle, art materials, opening
hours, artist payments, what happens
when there is sorry business. This is done
through talking, listening, taking time
and letting everyone know.”
Be happy, safe, feel welcome in your
new job and always show respect for
Aboriginal law, culture and country in
Message from the Desart Directors to New Art Centre Workers
TOP Desart Chief Executive Officer
Philip Watkins
BOTTOM Desart Directors Jane Young
and Hayley Coulthard 2012
Eunice Porter ‘Lasseter Story’ 2011
Acrylic on canvas
© Warakurna Artists
sart Inc.
A Short History of De
Aboriginal people have always traded
art and objects – pearl shells from the
Dampier Peninsula were traded all the
way into the desert. Aboriginal people
traded with people in Asia hundreds
of years before whitefellas came to
Australia. Even convicts and Aboriginal
people in Sydney traded with each other
after the invasion of the continent.
The Aboriginal arts industry in Central
Australia has an epic and tragic history:
station life and the pastoral industry, the
location of one of the biggest tourist
attractions and cultural icons in the
world, the effect of the missions, the
fame of Albert Namatjira, the violence
of the frontier, the pain and loss of the
stolen generations, the birth of the
Aboriginal art movement and the site
of the Northern Territory Emergency
Response into Aboriginal communities.
It is very important for new Art Centre
workers to know the history of where
they work.
The first Aboriginal art made for
museums and the general market was
collected by anthropologists and taken
away to be studied. Many trading
posts and missions that were set up
in remote Australia bought and sold
Aboriginal art and craft. Some missions
exported art to their stores in
Melbourne and Sydney, to fundraise
for their activities.
The first Art Centre was established at
Ernabella in the 1940s, although the term
‘Art Centre’ was not used at that time.
In 1949, the first exhibition to attribute
individual artists to artworks – not simply
as ‘Aboriginal’ or by ‘tribe’ – opened at
Australia’s first commercial gallery: Arnhem
land Art was exhibited at the David Jones
Gallery in Sydney, curated by famous
anthropologists the Berendts, just 60 years
ago. This time and place is critical – the veil
of the ‘outback’ was being lifted to tourism,
the pastoral industry was opening up to
transportation, the first commercial
galleries were emerging and Aboriginal art
was being attributed to individual ‘artists’.
In 1951 Czech surrealist artist Karel Kupka
made his first pilgrimage to Australia.
Perhaps he saw Aboriginal shields and
artefacts for the first time in the home of
photographer Axel Poignant. Kupka returned in 1956, to Milingimbi, Arnhem Land,
and three more times to Milingimbi until
1973: collecting, documenting and culturally
appropriating Aboriginal art and artefacts.
He toured ‘Dawn of Art’ throughout Europe:
the associated text includes an introduction by surrealist Andre Breton. (See The
Collector: Karel Kupka in north Australia by
Nicholas Rothwell, The Monthly, October
2007. Dawn of Art: painting and sclupture
of Australian Aborigines, Karel Kupka, 1965:
Some People are Stories, Djon Mundine
A Short History of Desart Inc.
In 1968, a famous Australian public
servant, Dr H.C. Nugget Coombs,
established the Australian Council for
the Arts and, from its earliest days, it had
an Aboriginal Board. The Aboriginal Arts
Board (AAB) was formally established
in 1973. This is the genesis of the Art
Centre model – a government-funded ‘Art
Advisor’ pricing, buying, transporting and
marketing art in remote communities.
The AAB also coordinated exhibitions
and market opportunities for Art Centres,
both domestically and abroad. The
Aboriginal Art Centre movement has
its origins in the same set of politics
and struggles as Aboriginal Land Rights
and self-determination. Today, cultural
authority, authenticity and maximum
return to the artist remain the core values
of Art Centres and Desart. (see Painting
Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High
Art, Fred Myers, 2002)
In 1987, the Association of Northern and
Central Australian Aboriginal Artists
(ANCAAA), a lobby group of 16 Art Centres,
fought to maintain their independence
from government control. The result
was a major review of the industry. (The
Aboriginal Arts and Crafts Industry, ‘The
Altman Report’, 1989)
In 1991, Central Australian Art Centres
separated from ANCAAA to form Desart
Inc. and to lobby and advocate their
importance, independence and significance to Australia’s identify. Top End
artists formed the Association of Northern,
Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists
(ANKAAA) based in Darwin.
More than 20 years later, Desart Inc. is still
operating in Alice Springs to ensure that
the cultural authority of Aboriginal artists
in Central Australia is respected and the
unique place of Art Centres is secure.
Minister for the Arts
Hon Simon Crean
visiting Tangentyere
Artists with Jane
Young, Sue O’Connor
and Desart CEO Philip
Watkins, photo by Tim
Desart Advocacy
Changing minds and
influencing people.
Desart works with members to respond
to proposed policies and programs from
government and other agencies. Desart
sits on many boards relevant to Art
Centres and works with other Aboriginal
peak bodies on industry-wide issues.
Other peak bodies working for Aboriginal
artists and Art Centres include:
• Aboriginal Art Centre Hub Western
Australia (AACHWA) – based in Perth
• Ananguku Arts – based in Adelaide
• The Association of Northern Kimberley
and Arnhem Artists (ANKAAA) – based
in Darwin
• Indigenous Art Centre Alliance (IACA) –
based in Cairns
• Umi Arts – based in Cairns
Key advocacy for Desart areas have
included unconscionable conduct (carpet
bagging), resulting in the Senate Enquiry
into the Aboriginal Art and Craft Industry,
the disastrous effects of the introduction
of GST on remote Aboriginal artists,
effects of the abolition of the Community
Development Employment Program
(CDEP) and the 2012 development of a
National Cultural Policy.
Desart Advocacy
What is the CRC-REP Art
Economies Project?
Current lobbying and advocacy:
• Continuation of lobbying to keep
addressing the recommendations of the
Senate Enquiry into the Aboriginal Art
and Craft Industry
• Culturally and community-appropriate
models of Aboriginal arts and cultural
• Increased support and funding levels
across government departments
• Support for alternative funding
models to Indigenous Visual Arts
Industry Support (IVAIS) and Indigenous
Cultural Support (ICS) for new and
emerging Art Centres.
Desart also participates in government-led
delegations to China, Europe and the USA
to promote Aboriginal art and educate
potential clients and networks on the role
of Art Centres.
Desart works together with various
researchers and academics and is a key
partner on the CRC-REP Aboriginal Art
Economies Project. Building statistics
and data to create a business case for Art
Centre funding and support is a priority
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Art Economies Project is part of a large
research program delivered by CRC-REP
(Cooperative Research Centre for Remote
Economic Participation; see www. looking at the social,
cultural, environmental and economic
circumstances of remote Australia. The
Art Economies Project will run until
2015, investigating and analysing the
economic, artistic, social and cultural
dynamics of the arts and crafts sector. In
collaboration with artists, Art Centres,
the commercial sector, collectors,
collecting and training institutions and
government, the research will produce
information, strategies and resources
to improve livelihoods for artists,
sustainability for enterprises and greater
knowledge for all those with an interest
in the ongoing vitality of the sector.
Desart works with universities on career
pathways in and out of the industry.
A pilot Art Centre career expo in 2012
with The University of Melbourne School
of Culture and Communication will be
extended to universities in Brisbane,
Sydney, Perth and Darwin in 2013–2014.
Desart Professional
Development and Re
The Desart annual program is designed
by staff and based on members’ feedback
from the annual Art Centre conference,
regional meetings and surveys.
Desart employs facilitators from our
Service Register who have relevant
knowledge and experience.
2013 Desart Profession
Development Program
January – Finalisation and distribution
of annual Desart program
February – Induction road trip for
new staff
March – SAM database training 1
April – Annual Art Centre Conference
(the week leading up to Good Friday)
May – Annual Barkly Artists Camp
June – Financial Management and
Risk Management Workshop
July – Workshops on demand
August – Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
September – Desert Mob Exhibition,
Symposium and Market Place
October – Regional Meetings
November – Desart Annual General
December – SAM database Training 2
In addition to scheduled training and
events, Desart resources and support
• IT Service and Support
• Human Resource program ‘Getting and
keeping the right people in Art Centres’
• Artworker support program
• Counselling and coaching service
• Infrastructure appraisal and funding
application support
• The Service Register of artists, facilitators, business consultants, interim staff
• Digital photography, image editing
and storage workshops
Workshops for artists’ wills, copyright,
the Artists Resale Royalty Scheme, the
Indigenous Art Code and licensing
products can be coordinated on demand
with the relevant agencies.
Desart Professional Development and Resources
The Desart Team
The Desart team is a resource with more
than 100 years combined experience
working with Aboriginal communities!
We have 23 years working specifically
with Art Centres, and 50 years in
the arts sector! The team holds five
undergraduate and post-graduate
degrees and we’re working on more!
Desart endeavours to keep a balance
of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff.
Contact us anytime – there are three
Project Officers to assist you over the
phone, email or on-site for interim
management during critical times.
There are no stupid questions –
you don’t know what you don’t know.
Desart Director Ronnie Douglas, Chief Executive
Officer Philip Watkins and Senior Program
Manager Michelle Culpitt
Desert Mob
This event is held in early September
annually, in Alice Springs
The annual Desert Mob exhibition began
its life as the Central Australian Aboriginal
Art and Craft Exhibition in 1991. In 1997 the
exhibition was given the title The Desert
Mob Art Show – since then it has become,
simply, Desert Mob.
the Desart Artworker Photography Prize,
then the Desert Mob Symposium ‘Stories
from the Artists’, the Desert Mob
exhibition, the Desert Mob Market Place
and a Desart brunch at the Telegraph
Station on Sunday.
Desart Art Centre members bundle into
their troopies and hit the roads from
Western Australia, South Australia and
the Northern Territory to participate in a
four-day program that commences with
The exhibition is hosted by the Araluen
Art Centre in Alice Springs and is open to
full members of Desart. Each Art Centre
curates a small exhibition revealing the
latest work from their Art Centre.
Desert Mob
LEFT Kunmanara Stewart Marapirnti 2011 (detail)
Acrylic on canvas, Araluen Art Collection, © the artist
RIGHT Warakurna Artists’ wall of paintings
at Desert Mob 2010
The Desert Mob Exhibi
Desert Mob Exhibition contracts are
provided at the Annual Desart Art Centre
Artwork is selected by the end of July and
artwork delivery is the first or second week
of August.
Gallery operators, journalists, art lovers
and collectors travel from around Australia
and the world to Desert Mob. It is a great
opportunity to establish networks and
nurture commercial relationships, it is the
highlight of many Art Centres’ exhibition
Desert Mob brings together contemporary Aboriginal art from across Central
Australia. Desert Mob expands each year,
demonstrating that artists throughout
the desert continue to revolutionise arts
and cultural expression. In 2012, Desert
Mob included more than 300 recent works
from 35 Desart Art Centres. To plan Desert
Mob, Managers, Directors and artists work
together. Young Artworkers in the community are encouraged and may sometimes
be given the opportunity to curate the
show. As an Art Centre Manager, you can
maximise this opportunity by launching a
new medium, style or narrative.
sium –
The Desert Mob Sympo
Stories from the artis
The Desert Mob symposium is an
exploration of Aboriginal artists, their
work and their Art Centres. This unique
program – the only forum of its kind – is
a window into the Aboriginal Art Centre
world. Aboriginal artists from Desart
member Art Centres, together with
interstate guests, perform a program of
stories, song, images, film and dance
about culture, country and art.
Desart can assist in the preparation of
presentations – for more information
contact the Desart office. In 2012, the
symposium featured Constantina Bush as
MC, Melbourne-based artist Reko Rennie
and artists from Mangkaja Arts, Fitzroy
Crossing, alongside our Desart members.
In the past, Lorraine Connelly-Northey,
Nici Cumpston, Bobby Bunungurr from
Bula’bula Arts, curator Hetti Perkins,
and Julie Gough have been a part of the
Desert Mob Pricing
If your work isn’t selling at Desert Mob,
something is wrong, and it is probably
your pricing. It is the job of the Art Centre
Manager and Directors to have a
pricing strategy. Overpricing work in a
competitive environment is the biggest
mistake that you can make. If you want
to sell it, price it to sell. Do your
homework – look at past price lists for
Desert Mob, pick up price lists from
galleries where a show has sold out and
compare these with your own pricing.
NAVA and ABAF both have pricing guides
Desert Mob
LEFT Kaltukatjara (Docker River) artists
at Desert Mob Market Place 2011
RIGHT Tjanpi Desert Weavers selling their fibre
sculptures at the Desert Mob Market Place
t Place
The Desert Mob Marke
This event takes place on Saturday and is
a good opportunity to sell smaller
or discounted artwork. The Art Centres
that sell the most are those who make
affordable and easily transportable works.
Desert Mob Market Place is a large indoor/
outdoor market with over 35 stalls
selling affordable Aboriginal art, crafts
and products from Desart member Art
Centres from Central Australia. Artists
visiting Alice Springs for the exhibition
and symposium host wood carving, bush
medicine and weaving displays. The
markets also host a sumptuous range of
food, drinks and entertainment.
TIP: There have been issues over the
years when Art Centres sell discounted
works by artists who also feature in the
high-profile Desert Mob Exhibition or in
other exhibitions in Alice Springs – please
remember not to confuse your markets,
and to be specific about the works that
you select and sell at Market Place and
the Desert Mob exhibition.
The Desart Artworker
Photography Prize
Digital photography workshops are
available to Art Centre Managers and
Aboriginal Artworkers throughout the
year. Part of the focus of these workshops
is encouraging Aboriginal photographers
to get a hold of that Art Centre camera
and capture the Art Centre world
through their eyes. Another objective
of the prize is to drive improved quality
and maintenance of Art Centre image
archives. Commencing in 2012, the award
is judged by high profile Aboriginal
photographers and media artists, with
cash prizes awarded for: Best image; Best
image of country; Best image of an artist;
Best image of culture; Best image of an
artwork; and the People’s choice award.
Desart Desert Mob
Closing Brunch
Sunday brunch at the Telegraph Station
– an opportunity to relax on the grass
by the Todd River with other Art Centre
members, or those you missed catching
up with over the busy weekend, before
the long drive home.
That ends the Desart propaganda. We
have looked at the role of an Art Centre
Manager, an Art Centre, a brief history
of Aboriginal art, Desart and the whole
Desart program. Now let’s take a close-up
look at the Art Centre operational model –
what is it? How does it work?
Desert Mob
Warakurna Artists’ paintings
at Desert Mob Market Place
The Nine Areas of Art Centre Operations
ntre Operations
Art Centres are complex businesses
with competing demands across a broad
base. Managers sometimes feel as though
they are expected to be: art experts,
salespeople, community development
specialists, admin dynamos, mediators,
social welfare providers, graphic
designers, accountants and more!
How do you balance the key areas of an
Art Centre business?
Splitting the business into nine areas
may help – the Desart project staff work
with this framework. It was the basis for
the 2012 annual Art Centre conference
‘Looking Back Looking Forward’. We also
use this system for annual Art Centre
reviews and working with Directors on
annual Art Centre Manager performance
This approach has been adapted from
Cornelia and Jan Flora’s work on Community
Capitals. See the reading list on page 110.
The nine areas:
Commercial and administration
Finance and economy
Built environment
Think about a big tree growing under
the Art Centre. There are two healthy
branches on the tree – the government
and the market – and seven roots that
grow up from culture and country deep
underground. The tree provides shelter to
the Art Centre and keeps it secure. Each of
its roots can grow strong through strong
leadership, taking up opportunities and
good management. Alternatively, these
roots may wither through not managing
risk, ignoring problems, becoming
uprooted from culture and country, and
from working the wrong way.
Desart use this planning approach to
frame conversations with Directors and
staff about Art Centres. We explore each
area one at a time and ask a range of
What does this area
mean at the Art Centre?
What does it look like?
Where do you go to find out more
information on this area?
Chairperson for culture, the accountant
or bookkeeper for a money story, a
gallery for feedback on art
How do you know what work you need
to do in this area? What will have an
impact? What hasn’t worked?
Add your own key areas if they don’t fit
into the nine described. Use plain English
to describe them, but don’t change
technical terms so that they lose their
meaning. After enquiring about each
section, label them red, yellow or green
like traffic lights and list:
• the most important things to do
• who is responsible?
What is best practice? What do other Art
Centres do?
Are there other areas important to the
Art Centre not included in these nine
• how will you know it has been done?
Green symbolises ‘go’, yellow ‘waiting’
and red means ‘stopped’. This creates a
work plan and usually takes a day or two.
An example:
Commercial &
Finance &
The traffic light system inspired by Graeme Andrews of Duesbury Nexia
Art Centre Managers
1. Culture
Culture first. The first Art Centre area is
culture. Along with country, culture is
the foundation for Art Centre operations.
Culture and country underpin everything.
How to measure it? Leave it up to your
Directors and they will find a way.
Actions in this key area might include:
working with young people, language
projects, documenting artworks. This
Ungakini Tjangala, Tjariya Stanley
and Nura Rupert at Womikata 2003,
photo by Beth Sometimes
section of the guidebook includes
important information about working
in a cross-cultural environment.
2012 conference statements relating to
culture included:
“It is up to Directors and elders to define
this area at the Art Centre.”
“Trips to country are the most important
Art Centre activity in this area.”
Winnie Woods and Belle Davidson acting
the Minyma Kutjarra Tjukurrpa (Two Sisters story),
photo by Daniel Featherstone, © NG Media
Aboriginal Kinship
In the Aboriginal cosmology of Central
Australia everything has a place and there
is a place for everything. The moon
and stars, men and women, plants and
animals, country and places are all
assigned to the kinship system.
Many Aboriginal communities where
Desart members are located operate
under an Aboriginal kinship system.
To understand this better you should
take guidance from the Chairperson of
your Art Centre, the Traditional Owner
(TO) of the community and the artists
themselves. Read up – there will be
resources at the Art Centre.
Avoidance relationships are important
for you to understand – don’t ask loudly,
“Hey Joyce, why won’t you come here
and sit next to Jack?” Understand that
there are some people who can be near
each other and some that can’t.
If there is a topic or area for discussion
that is taboo for women, or for men
only, people will say “I don’t know” or
be silent. Read this as a subtle indication
to stop asking.
There may be many reasons why someone
walks away or removes themself from a
meeting or situation – be discreet, don’t
take it personally.
Papunya and Yuendumu dancers led by Tilau Nangala perform
Mikantji (Water) Dreaming at DanceSite 2011, photo by Wayne Quilliam,
image courtesy of Artback NT: Arts Development and Touring
Left to right: Desart Executive Governance
malpa Maggie Kavanagh, Tina Ricky from
Nyinkka Nyunu, Maureen O’Keefe and
Tracey James from Arlpwe Art Centre,
Ali Curung
Cultural Protocols
There are many Aboriginal cultural
protocols, don’t think that you can learn
about a complex knowledge system in a
few weeks. Be yourself (everyone makes
cultural faux pas), be discreet and be
aware of your own behaviour and that
of those around you. This includes at
meetings, during sorry business, in
language, dress and body language.
Some Meeting Tips
Being on time to a meeting. This is an
important and subjective cultural value.
One group of people might value a
meeting that started on time with a good
agenda and accurate minutes. Another
group might value a meeting because
the right people were there and good
discussion happened.
Silence is OK. Some people feel the need to
fill a void with speaking. However, silence
is OK too – maybe people are waiting
for the most senior person to make a
statement, so that they can follow.
Always provide interpreters. Let an
agenda or discussion point circulate
in the community for a few days or
weeks before the meeting. Don’t present
emergencies and expect an emergency
response. A common complaint from
new staff is, “They are not responding,
this is an emergency!” An Aboriginal artist
in Darwin once replied to this by saying,
“We’ve been in a state of emergency since
you whitefellas got here!”
Please talk honestly about the use of
interpreters with Directors to open up
dialogue. Even if people have very good
English language skills, speaking in
your own language aids expression. Many
communities have trained interpreters you
can utilise for your Art Centre meetings –
contact the Aboriginal Interpreter Services.
Ask your Chairperson to conduct meetings
in their own language, with an English
interpretation for you.
Informed Consent
Don’t push for agreement or take silence
as compliance. Many meetings held in
communities are frustrating – model a
better way at the Art Centre. There is a
great reference for informed consent from
Desert Knowledge in Alice Springs:
If people don’t agree, they don’t agree.
Sorry Business
One of the most confronting aspects of
living and working in Aboriginal
communities is the number of funerals.
The awful statistics about Aboriginal
premature deaths and poor health will
become a very sad reality for many
working in communities – people are
often sick, suffer, pass away. It is a tragic
part of Art Centre work. You will often
be called upon to receive email and fax
messages for the deceased and provide
access to the computer to make a funeral
booklet. There will be a sorry camp set
up, and you may or may not be expected
to turn up to shake hands and show
respect. Your Directors or Artworkers will
guide you.
Cultural avoidance – this includes not
saying the name of a deceased person or
people with the same name or a ‘close-by’
name for a period of time: Kunmanara
(sounds like Kumana) or Kumantjayi.
Some people will use other names during
this time. You will know when it is OK
to start using their original name again
when you hear it being used.
Community Life
Please remember that a community is
a society where everyone is related,
and the rules and taboos of kinship are
occurring all the time. There are no
strangers in a community. You have
moved into a community where most of
the local population have known each
other all their lives. For example, if
children look to be running around
unsupervised they are not – they are
surrounded by their aunties, uncles,
grannies, cousins, mothers and fathers.
Aboriginal Languages
and Aboriginal Englis
There are many languages indigenous to
Australia – a figure generally agreed on is
around 250 languages and 600 dialects.
Aboriginal languages across Australia
are as different and varied as those
across Europe and, like many Europeans,
Aboriginal people generally speak two
or more languages. It is not unusual for
Aboriginal people (especially older people
and community leaders) to speak up to
three or more distinct languages, several
dialects, Kriol and Aboriginal English – but
not the English you may be familiar with.
Aboriginal English is the most common
language, varying from a heavy Kriol
through to lighter dialects. Aboriginal
people in Central Australia refer to
themselves as Anangu or Yapa; and
whitefellas as Piranpa or Kartiya.
Artists Dianne Golding, Eunice Porter,
Nancy Jackson, Winnie Woods and Melva Davies at
Tjanpi Desert Weavers workshop, Warakurna,
April 2011, photo Jo Foster
© Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women’s Council
Some Words and Term
to Start You Listening
Tjukurpa is a Central Australian word to
describe the law and the belief system
of Aboriginal people. Tjukurpa embodies
the principles of religion, philosophy and
human behavior that are to be observed
in order to live harmoniously with one
another and with the natural landscape.
According to Tjukurpa, there was a time
when ancestral beings, in the form of
humans, animals and plants, travelled
widely across the land and performed
remarkable feats of creation and
Another important word is ‘country’,
which refers to land generally, but also
has the more specific meaning of ‘place
of belonging’. Country as a word and
concept is very important for you to
understand – it is where people are from
and connected to in the deepest sense of
the word.
Bad news – somebody has passed away
Big mob – a lot of
For example: big mob of money,
big mob of kids
Business – law and ceremony
Camp – a group of homes (e.g. Top camp,
Bottom camp, Alice Springs Town camp)
where you are staying longer term.
For example: “I am stopping at Betty’s
Cheeky – mischievous, aggressive,
Gammon – pretending, kidding, joking,
Growl – scold
Lingo – Aboriginal language
Old man– talking about very old or
senior people or people who have passed
away, for example, “that old man from
Alice Springs”.
Old woman – talking about very old or
senior people or people who have passed
Shame, shame job – no shame pointing
someone out, saying their name loudly,
causing embarrassment
Sorry business – ceremony associated
with death
Toy – not real
For example: false teeth = toy teeth
How to Dress in
a Community?
Level 1 Humbug can be as innocent as
gently asking for something, for example,
“Could I humbug you for some water?” or
“Could I humbug you for a cup of tea?”
Level 2 Humbug can be annoying and
frustrating, for example, asking for
something unreasonable such as access
to a vehicle or money, over and over
again. Humbug can be family members
harassing artists for their painting money.
Level 3 Humbug can mean violence and
harassment, for example, “I get too much
humbug at home” or “I get too much
humbug from drinkers”.
There are many places with cultures and
customs that you may not be used to.
Aboriginal communities across Australia
vary dramatically in regards to customs
and protocols. A rule of thumb to be sure
not to insult or embarrass anyone is to
take note of what other people are doing,
take a leaf out of their book and dress
For women this doesn’t mean that you
have to wear a bright floral zippy dress,
but it may mean that you should cover
up your hips and thighs and not wear
anything too tight. For men, footy shorts
are strictly for the footy field and going
shirtless can be perceived as having ‘no
shame’ and may not be appropriate for
mixed company.
Don’t Take it Personal
Work ethics and personal values are
not tied together intrinsically in many
Aboriginal communities. People do not,
generally, seek to be thanked or valued
through their job and will therefore
not value the same in their Art Centre
Community members are unlikely to say:
“Wasn’t it great the way Jim stayed in
and worked over the weekend at the Art
Centre? He’s a really hard worker!”
They may be more likely to think:
“Poor Jim, he must be lonely and have no
one to go hunting with.”
Or maybe even:
“What is Jim doing at the Art Centre all
the time without the artists there, maybe
he’s stealing money?”
Conversely, often in communities there is
no differentiation between the personal
and work. Your private space and work
space need to be defined by you, for
“I don’t talk about money story at home,
just at the Art Centre.”
“You know I don’t do humbug on the
This is of course for you to manage –
the verandah at the Art Centre Manager’s
house can be a great forum for
discussing Art Centre business and
getting to know each other, and learn
about culture. Alternatively you could
use the Chairperson’s front yard or do
this only at the Art Centre. It is about
finding a balance.
Animal companionship is very important
for many Aboriginal people, and dogs have
very important traditional associations
as hunters and guardians. Dogs are also
central to many important Tjurkurpa stories
and sites.
The environment, introduced diseases,
lack of access to veterinary health services
and other factors have led to general poor
health of dogs on a lot of Aboriginal
communities and are associated health
risks to people. Some communities have
visiting vets or Dog Health Programs. A
particularly fantastic program exists at
Yuendumu called Aussie Desert Dogs.
Dogs on communities can run in
packs more so than in urban and other
environments. They can be quite
dangerous, especially if you wander
onto their turf – so be careful.
Daphne, Gloria Morales (Assistant Manager
at Warlukurlangu Artists), Ashley and Fianca
walking the dogs at Yuendumu,
© Warlukurlangu Artists
Dog Tips
Learn the local word to use, such as Shah,
to growl at dogs
Carry a stick – you probably won’t have
to use it.
Approach people with caution (especially
old people) when their dogs are with
them and ask, “Is that dog cheeky?”
As in the broader community, a dog is
not just for Christmas! Be aware that if
you accept or take on a dog, be prepared
to take the dog with you when you leave
the community – the next Art Centre
Manager may have their own pets or not
want to take on any canine friends that
you have adopted.
TOP Hector Burton with his painting and dogs
at Tjala Arts Centre, photo by Skye O’Meara,
© Tjala Arts
BOTTOM Ark Veterinary Service’s Anne Fawcett
desexing dogs at Yuendumu, part of the Aussie
Desert Dogs program, photo by Gloria Morales,
© Warlukurlangu Artists
Cross-Cultural Resour
Download the Remote Area Health Corps
(RAHC) Cultural Orientation Handbook:
Adapting to Difference (previously called
All Whitemen Are Liars), by Margaret S.
Bain, is a great little book, as is Whitefella
Culture by Susanne Hargrave
Am I an Alien?
Many Art Centre Managers have used the
“I feel like an alien.”
“I feel like I’m on another planet.”
“I feel as though we are having two
completely different conversations.”
Working in many remote Aboriginal
communities is akin to travelling overseas
to work in a foreign country in a small
community. You are in someone else’s
country. Take the time to learn the ropes.
For a lengthier exploration, read
Yuendumu Everyday: Contemporary
life in remote Aboriginal Australia, by
Yasmine Musharbash.
If you are having issues with your
communication, suggest a bush trip – pile
in the troopie and go learn about country.
Step back and take a look at yourself in
the picture.
The next section is about the centrality
of country to Aboriginal people – not
just for building a house, tourism or
mining, but for survival. The activation
of connection to country through
ceremony keeps culture going strong.
Desert country
2. Country
How to measure this area? Once again it
is up to the Directors, but they may want
to talk about access to country. They may
even want to think about tourism – people
somewhere such as Mutitjulu adjacent
to Uluru, would have a lot to talk about.
Everyone’s country is of value.
“Country is a very important thing that
spans across many different places, not
just one. It is through country that we will
pass on our culture to future generations,
to keep culture strong. We don’t have our
history/cultural knowledge recorded on
paper, it is within us, in us, in everything
we do and that is how we pass it on.”
Ronnie Douglas, Desart APY Lands
Director – Tjala Arts, Amata
You are on Aboriginal
This is a realisation that you should carry
with you as you travel across the whole
continent. In remote communities you
may need to organise permits for visitors
and you must be responsible for friends
and family when they are on community.
Be aware of sacred sites in the community
– there are places that you can and can’t
go, places to walk and not to walk.
Important organisations:
• Central Land Council
• Northern Land Council
The above two sections, Culture and
Country, are your safety net. When work,
remote life or community politics get you
down, go back here – to the foundation –
and reconnect.
Mary Pan and Iluwanti Ken,
sisters collaborative painting at Tjala Arts,
photo by Joanna Byrne,
© Tjala Arts
3. Art
Without art, what would an Art Centre
be? Art in Central Australia has been
described as one of the most important
art movements in the world. At the 2012
conference, participants made the
statement that:
“Making art is not just about money, it is
for culture and country.”
A key area for inspiration was agreed as:
“We need to travel to other Art Centres
and other places to look at their ideas and
their art”.
This section will mostly focus on arts
development. For pricing and exhibitions,
refer to the Commercial section page 77.
Some Art Centres make paintings, some
carving, and some weaving.
Some Art Centres create just 200 paintings
a year and make sure every one counts
through exhibitions and awards:
keeping the Art Centre sustainable. Large
Art Centres might produce thousands of
paintings, weavings, carvings, glass, and
ceramics and also sell licensed products –
they need to purchase all the materials,
tools and machinery to make the work
and to find a market for all that work.
Each Art Centre is different.
How can art be measured?
Maybe through testing for:
• cultural authority
• authenticity
• good sales
• exhibitions
• reviews
• awards
• painting the correct Tjukurpa
• good materials
• experimentation and happy artists
TIP: Test for technical ability, plus
methods, tools and materials. Do you
need a technician to visit? Do you need
to change the palette?
At least once a year, pull together all the
work that has not sold for a long time.
Sit down with the Directors – what does
the work have in common? Look at the
size, the subject and whether the work is
damaged or not. Is there a pattern? Great
art sells itself, but the rest is hard work.
Valuing art is different to pricing art – it is
about criticism and is a part of a history
of art, and a history of dealing in art.
Some useful references:
• Great (old) article Art and Money by
Robert Hughes
• Michael Reid website:
• Painting Culture – The Making of a
High Art by Fred Myers
“Focus on working with the artists to
produce good quality paintings that will
sell at the fine art market point. Try not
to get too involved in local politics as it
takes up a lot of your precious time and
energy. Work with your executive to
create a financially stable business. Work
with what they wish to achieve, such as
saving for a second motorcar, or putting
money aside for trips to exhibitions.”
Bronwyn Taylor, Ninuku Arts 2006–2010
Arts Development
Art and Fear, by David Bayles and Ted
Orland, is a great book on the perils and
rewards of art-making. This book may
assist you with separating subject and
inspiration (culture and country) from
material and execution (arts development).
Not every Aboriginal artist depicts culture
and country – some can’t and some don’t
want to. Arts development is ongoing
and never-ending.
Some actions in this area:
• Organise a workshop in printmaking
• Travel to country for workshops
• Look at community arts and cultural
groups in other areas – e.g. Footscray
Community Arts Centre, Feral Arts
• Ask artists which workshops they
have enjoyed – and why
• Travel to the city and visit state
galleries that house works from the
community; arrange for a personal
tour – for inspiration
• Tools and materials plus inspiration
and execution equals art
The choice and use of materials is an
expression of the artistic idea. This
technical area requires ongoing
workshops and inspiration – ceramics,
glass, printmaking, painting, sculpture
and carving are ongoing disciplines for
all artists. Artists such as an old man
from Kayili Artists in Patjarr started to
paint with fat paint textas when his
hands got shaky; Tangentyere Artists in
Alice Springs paint on hub caps, license
plates and old tobacco tins; and Keringke
Artists paint on ukuleles! Think about
conservation: take the time for correct
preparation, good quality materials and
proper storage. Good quality canvas and
linen, paints and mediums, stretching
and the use of standard stretcher sizes are
all part of good studio practice.
TOP LEFT Artists at the plaster sculpture
workshop, Barkly Artist Camp 2012
TOP RIGHT Workshop in plaster sculpture
with J9 at Barkly Artist Camp 2012
BOTTOM Dion Beasley of Cheeky Dogs
fame at Barkly Artist Camp 2012
Connecting the Artist
with the Audience
Claire Eltringham, Ninuku Arts
Presented at the Annual Desart Art Centre
Conference, April 2012
TOP Peter Mungkuri, Whiskey Tjukangku,
Kumanara Barney and Alec Baker at their Iwantja
exhibition, photo by Rhett Hammerton
Artists’ Career Develo
This is one of the more complex aspects
of Art Centre management. There are
some artists working through Art Centres
who are in another stratosphere: they are
famous. This also affects the culture of
the Art Centre which is in effect an artist’s
cooperative. Managing an artist’s career
and protecting their interests is a huge
responsibility. Books, magazine articles,
travel commitments and family pressure
all require sensitive and smart navigation.
The demands of being an art star can place
an artist in real danger.
TIP: Work together with the whole family
(if that is what the artist wants). Work
across a range of projects so that a broad
audience can access work and produce a
range of income streams – printmaking,
public art and maybe licensing. Ensure
artists have a will, set them up for resale
royalty and investigate trust fund options
to look after an artist into their old age.
Exchanges on and
away from Community
The Art Centre may want an artist-inresidence in the community for their
specialised knowledge such as: ceramics,
batik or woodwork. Artists may also
want to travel to other Art Centres in
Arnhem Land or even the Torres Strait
Islands! There are many ‘artists in schools’
programs – it might be a good idea to talk
to the school principal about prioritising
the expertise and cultural authority in the
community and at the Art Centre, before
bringing in artists from other places.
Get to know the Australia Council
Handbook: Visual arts: protocols for
producing Indigenous Australian visual
arts, see
Community-Driven Pr
Always prioritise community-driven
projects: organise brainstorming sessions
with Directors; assign an Artworker
to curate and interview artists for a
catalogue; scout around the community
for young curators and work together on
creating a career pathway.
Project ideas:
• Curate an exhibition at the Art Centre
• Curate an exhibition at a gallery
• Apply for the Desart Curatorial
• Apply for The Wesfarmers Arts
Indigenous Fellowship
Painting Tjukurpa
Recording and depicting Aboriginal motifs
and Tjukurpa is Aboriginal business.
Like a hit song by the Sunshine Reggae
Band, behind every artwork and exhibition is a whole band of people – Directors,
Managers, Artworkers and of course
artists. Human resources are integral –
when there are the wrong people in Art
Centres the whole place can go down and
close very quickly. In the next section we
look closely at the different people
working at the Art Centre.
BOTTOM LEFT Tjungkara Ken with her painting
at Tjala Arts Centre, photo by Skye O’Meara,
© Tjala Arts
BOTTOM RIGHT Ampilatwatja Artists Levina
Morton and Michelle Pula Holmes visiting
London during the Queen’s Jubilee, thanks to NT
Government Trade Support Scheme,
photo Caroline Hunter, © Artists of Ampilatwatja
4. People
Artists, Committee members, Art Centre
Managers, Artworkers, Desart staff and
Directors all together at the Barkly Artists
Camp, Likkapurte, 2012
This area is made up of Directors, the Art
Centre Manager, Artworkers and artists.
Community members are often highly
mobile, and Managers and Artworkers
have an average tenure of 2–3 years.
The industrial award that covers Art
Centre workers is the Amusement, Events
and Recreation Award 2010 with an
Individual Flexibility Agreement. Desart
have contract templates, job descriptions
and pay scales available.
The main Desart programs that relate to
this area:
• Getting and keeping the right people
in Art Centres
• The Desart Artworker Programs
• Career development and pathways
• The Desart Service Register
How to measure this area? For staff
members a 360˚ Annual Review is
conducted by Art Centre Directors and
assisted by Desart or an external facilitator.
Artworkers are reviewed by the Manager.
Three main points for all people at the Art
Centre to remember:
• Be self-aware
• Meet together every week
• Make mentoring available for
Art Centre People
by Michelle Evans*
People are the most important resource of
an Art Centre. Great Art Centres pay close
attention to the many different groups
of people that make up the organisation:
the Board; Arts Centre workers; artists;
volunteers and community supporters.
Art Centre Managers are responsible for
paying attention to and facilitating the
different ways these groups contribute to
the Art Centre.
Aboriginal communities are the strong
foundation from which Art Centres
spring. Art Centres are responsible to
the community, through the Board of
Management. Aboriginal communities
are a deep resource: for local knowledge;
cultural expertise; protocol management;
and the social/family relationship
networks. Art Centre Managers must
develop independent relationships
with the community within which they
reside and work. Relationships with
key community organisations, families
and individuals will work to provide you
with cultural identity and uphold the
cultural integrity of the Art Centre.
* Michelle Evans works as a Research Fellow in the Asia Pacific Social Impact Leadership Centre (APSILC)
at Melbourne Business School (MBS). Michelle leads APSILC’s research agenda in the Aboriginal Business
and Leadership development space. Michelle has recently completed her PhD on Indigenous leadership
in the arts at MBS.
Relationship building through open
listening and reciprocity is important to
fostering trust and respect. Indigenous
knowledge is built relationally. So
sharing information and operating in a
transparent manner consistently is key
to developing a solid foundation for Art
Centre Managers. The work of the Art
Centre is best understood as a two way
street. The Art Centre Manager is charged
with bringing management and artistic
knowledge. The artists/Artworkers/Board
and community bring artistic, cultural
and local knowledge.
The relationship is not about exchange
per se. It’s about building knowledge
together for the success of the Art Centre.
Learning the local social norms and
cultural protocols related to work in the
Art Centre are essential. Relationships
with Community members may require
long-term effort. Trust can be earned
through consistent, fair work. Indigenous
expertise can be found in diverse
organisations in the community, not
just in culturally associated organisations. Understanding the relationships
between organisations in the community
and where authority exists within and
between these organisations is important
to the work of the Art Centre.
Positional authority may not represent
the cultural authority in the Community.
One important issue new Art Centre
Managers need to be aware of is the high
turnover of expert personnel in Aboriginal
communities. Many communities are
fatigued by having to start over again with
each new Art Centre Manager. Community
members may also be upset at losing
friends or frustrated by the lack of capacity
development in the Community in order
to manage their own Art Centre. All these
factors, coupled with the residue from
colonisation and more contemporary
governmental management controls,
mean that non-Indigenous Art Centre
Managers will face some resistance.
These very complex issues can mean that
non-Indigenous Art Centre Managers feel
like outsiders when living in Aboriginal
communities. It is critical that these
issues are thought through and spoken
about with trusted colleagues. There are
a lot of politics in the Indigenous arts
industry that stem from competition for,
and control over, scarce resources. The
business of Indigenous art works off the
back of Indigenous culture. This can cause
serious tension for artists and Community
members. There are many unscrupulous
people in the industry seeking to make
a profit without care for the personal or
cultural impact this may have.
The Art Centre Manager has a complex
role – running a not-for-profit business,
training artists and Artworkers, moving
between management demands
and cultural requirements. Mediating
relationships and weighing up
competing demands is at the heart of
the role. Art Centre Managers become
experts at switching between the jargon
of arts management and business, and
the talk of the community Art Centre.
It is a demanding and completely lifechanging role.
Sophie Wallace, Manager of Yarrenyty Arltere
Artists, with Rhonda Sharpe and Dulcie Raggett,
photo by Rhett Hammerton
Centre Manager?
Learning Centre
by Yarrenyty-Arltere
Yarrenyty-Arltere Learning Centre (YALC)
is a family resource and learning centre
located at Yarrenyty-Arltere (Larapinta)
town camp in Alice Springs. The Centre
aims to improve the social, health,
environmental and economic wellbeing
of the Community in a way that
strengthens and respects culture.
YALC’s top ten things that make a good
Art Centre Manager:
• Showing kindness to artists and their
• Encouraging and helping artists with
their work
• Making new artists feel welcome and
comfortable about coming back, so the
art program stays strong
• Help artists manage their money so
it is spent on good things for them and
their families
• Make sure there is a shopping afternoon for artists with no transport
• Helping artists talk to other whitefellas about fixing washing machines,
getting power tickets, getting firewood,
• Helping artists to feel healthy and
de-stressed by taking them on swimming programs and bush trips, and by
providing healthy lunches and snacks in
the art room
• Holding meetings about what’s happening in the art program, to understand where the art is going and share
feelings about getting stronger
• Keeping all photos of the artwork, so
artists can remember what they have
done after it has been sold
• Listening to artists’ stories so people
can be told about Larapinta and what
is done here; and stories about our
LEFT Artworker Tristan Duggie from Mungkarta
works with Lorraine King to stretch canvas
at the Desart Artworker Conference 2010
About Artworkers
ne Young
by the Desart Chair, Ja
There are a lot of Artworkers and people
who want to work in Art Centres. I started
working with Art Centres more than 30
years ago. People have been doing all
different kinds of art and craft jobs. The
art jobs at Santa Teresa – in the 1950s –
included knitting, sewing, embroidery,
making dolls, small wire toys, toy wind
mills, drawing with crayons and drawing
with coloured pencils. The first teacher
of art and craft, at the mission at Santa
Teresa, was Sister Edith who arrived in
1974. She taught pottery, copper work,
macramé, screen-printing and leatherwork. A few years later, Cait Wait came
to teach a 9-week fabric-printing course
and stayed for 5 years. At Keringke Arts
Centre, Cait Wait trained Artworkers and
then those Artworkers trained each other.
Jobs were shared so that the same person
was not always doing the same thing and
getting bored.
Why should Art Centres have Aboriginal
Artworkers? Some Art Centres don’t. Is it
OK only to have white people working in
Art Centres? We need to work together.
Artworkers keep the Art Centre strong,
they keep culture strong. It is important
for Aboriginal people to learn how to do
all kinds of jobs because the Manager
won’t stay forever. If Aboriginal people
know what is going on, they can tell the
new Manager. The new Manager might
stay for 3 or 4 years and then go, and we
will still be there. Artworkers need to tell
the new Manager how it has been done
before, so they know.
RIGHT Artworker Rebecca Farrell cataloguing paintings
at Warnayaka Art, photo by Bronwyn Taylor
We need to know all the jobs because
most people don’t want to live in the
Community forever. Sometimes it’s hard
for Artworkers to stay and do their job
because Managers come and go, you
might not have a supervisor. The new
Manager might come and they might be
unfriendly, but you need to help them
to mix in, show them how to be calm,
show them and tell them not to just go
ahead and do whatever they want. New
Managers need to slow down and let the
Artworkers tell them about their roles.
An Art Worker needs to stand next to and
get on well with the Coordinator; they
can learn from each other. An Art Worker
is also there to help the artists.
Some Artworkers are senior men, like
MP at Tjarlirli Artists; some are young
people, like Shauna at Tangentyere. Some
people manage their own Art Centres,
like Audrey Rankine at Mungkarta, Kaye
and Susie at Epenarra, and Megan – the
Manager of Ngurratjuta. Some Artworkers
are doing their first job. Some have had
lots of different jobs. If people are happy
and working together in the Art Centre,
it’s a place where there is no pressure.
Artworkers like their jobs because of the
culture and stories – Art Worker jobs can
be great fun!
Old-time jobs were really hard. We used
to clean the convent, do the washing
and cooking for the nuns, ironing for the
brothers, clean the brothers’ rooms and
the church, and look after the vegetable
My mum and dad worked doing fencing
and station work. Aboriginal people had
a lot of jobs and they didn’t get money for
that. They were stockmen and cooks.
Forty years ago, in Santa Teresa, if a
married couple wanted a house they
went out and got rocks to build their own
stone house. People worked collecting
the rubbish and then burnt it. We had
Aboriginal electricians and they would
turn the generator off at night. There was
a bakery and two Aboriginal bakers. The
nuns were teachers, but it was a bilingual
school and the older girls helped teach in
Arrernte. There were lots of chickens and
pigs, and people worked as farmhands.
There were Aboriginal health workers and
they worked at the Alice Springs hospital
too. They were really hard jobs. Now it is
a modern world and we have Art Worker
TIP: Talk to Desart about employment,
training and Professional Development
opportunities for Artworkers. Advertise at
the Community store or on the Community
noticeboard for Artworkers. Talk with Yirara
College in Alice Springs or St Johns in Darwin
– consider students finishing year 12 that you
could head-hunt for Art Centre work.
ng with Co
Contracting and Worki
There are a lot of Art Centre jobs for
an Art Centre Manager. With all the
administration and travel, some
demands will mean that jobs need to
be outsourced to consultants. Some Art
Centre Managers become consultants!
No matter how busy and desperate you
are, take your time:
• Put business plans and manuals out
to tender and go through a selection
process or do a select tender accessing
the Desart Service Register
• Always check referees no matter what
word-of-mouth tells you
• Agree on payment
• Produce a Letter of Offer and contract
(there are templates available)
• Be clear on confidentiality and
Four main issues around consultants:
• The principal–agent (Art Centre–consultant) problem: don’t outsource your
agenda-setting and values
• Payments – you get what you pay for:
a job isn’t cheap if it has to be rewritten
or can’t be used
• Ownership issues – Art Centre
Directors are the bosses and priorities
• Put it in writing
Good consultants are worth paying for:
but check, if you are paying top dollar
for a business plan the consultant
should ideally have a Master of Business
Administration (MBA) – look carefully at
their other business plans.
Government and other agencies understand that Art Centres are busy places
and don’t expect reports that are written
to standard PhD. They expect honest
reporting with community voice (proof
through photos is good). Interview artists
and transcribe how they describe meeting
your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Government and other agencies notice
Business Plans and reporting that is the
same across Art Centres. These are not
authentic and can have a negative impact
on Art Centres.
When selecting a consultant ask the
• Are they on the Desart Service
• Can your Directors work with them?
• Can you work with them?
• Are they in touch with the industry?
• Do they bring fresh perspective?
• What is their experience in same size/
same type organisations?
• Always check three references
• Have everything clearly laid out in a
Letter of Offer – especially payment and
• Are they good value for money? A
cheaper consultant may not have much
See NAVA’s Artists Scales of Fees and
Wages – – which
includes rates for:
• Independent curators
• Travel expenses and per diems
• Arts Administrator salaries
• Workshop rates
Nepotism and
Conflict of Interest
Do not employ your father, brother, sister,
mother to do your Business Plan. Declare
all and any relationships that you have
with people tendering for Art Centre
Managing People
and Duty of Care
A key challenge for Art Centre Managers
is managing and supervising staff,
facilitators and consultants. Always,
always secure the services of staff and
consultants with a contract, which can
be as simple as a Letter of Offer. It is
important to induct and support your staff.
Social Networking an
Photography in the Co
In your standard Letter of Offer you
may want to include a clause relating to
photography and social networking – this
is an evolving area and your Directors will
guide you on the level of photography
and online presence they are comfortable
Many communities are not happy with
video footage and photos appearing
on YouTube, Facebook or consultants’
promotional materials without their
express prior written permission.
Filming and photography in communities
require special permits.
Professional Conduct
for Art Centre Manag
The environment is unique, so remember
your role as a mediator and moderator.
You are not there to do your own artwork
(it is not a paid artist-in-residence
position). Desart has an extensive ‘Code
of Conduct and Managing Stress’
document available. Please refer to
details of your contract and industrial
award (see page 54).
General principles
All employees must conduct themselves
in accordance with the following commonsense principles:
• Employees must act honestly and fairly
in all work-related transactions and
dealings with others
• Employees must treat other
employees, contractors, members,
Directors, competitors and all other
people they deal with at work, with
courtesy and respect
• Employees must act within the best
interests of the Art Centre and its
• Employees must comply with all laws
and regulations applicable to the
operations of the Art Centre, including:
- The Office of the Register of
Indigenous Corporations (ORIC)
- The Indigenous Art Code
- The Australian National
Employment Standards
- The current model Work Health and
Safety Act
- The Anti-Discrimination Act relevant
to the State or Territory you work in
Your contract covers conduct relating
to confidentiality, purchasing artwork,
intellectual property, use of workplace
equipment and commercial dealings. You
should maintain a professional approach
to your role at the Art Centre at all times.
So now you have all your people working
together and the art is fabulous. It is now
time to make sure that the business is
following the law and proper process.
Tommy Mitchell ‘Ngurra Pirni’ 2011
Acrylic on canvas, Warakurna Artists,
photo Edwina Circuitt
© Warakurna Artists
5. Commercial and Ad
Over the past decade, commercial law
and compliance in the Aboriginal
art industry has increased causing extra
administrative burden. An Art Centre
Manager job is 60–80 per cent
administration. The term ‘commercial’
relates to trading and to aspects of the
Art Centre that have commercial value:
branding, reputation and market position.
It also includes valuable Aboriginal
commercial assets such as Traditional
Cultural Knowledge (TCK) and Indigenous
Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP).
Administration mainly happens in the
office and on a computer.
Two issues in the commercial realm
agreed on at the 2012 conference were:
1. the difficulty for commercial galleries
and clients maintaining relationships
with the high staff turnover; and
2. the high risk for debt collection
(managing debtors) for Art Centres.
Commercial and Administration
The 11 Key Art Centre
Management Work Tools:
• This Guidebook
• Your current Art Centre Business Plan
• Your latest Art Centre Annual Report
with audited accounts
• Your Art Centre’s most up-to-date
Balance Sheet from your accountant –
go through it with the accountant
• All your Funding Agreements – these
should be in a spreadsheet with
amounts, activities and reporting dates
• Your Art Centre Policy and Procedures
• The Art Centre online manual Go
Hunting -
• The arts management database Stories
Art Money (SAM) –
• The Art Centre Rule Book – look up the
Art Centre at
• Free confidential counselling or coaching and support at any time
• The Desart team, ph. (08) 8953 4736
Tjanpi artists at the Adelaide launch of the
Tjanpi Desert Weavers book 2012 ©Tjanpi Desert
Weavers, NPY Women’s Council
Grants Management
and Reporting
Keep a simple spreadsheet or table of
all your funding agreements, reporting
dates, amounts and key performance
indicators. Keep a folder of photos,
feedback, comments and media to add to
your reports.
A message from government to Art Centre
Managers: ‘In your reporting, show all
the value of the Art Centre: Government
appreciates all community aspects’.
d Proced
Art Centre Policies an
Go Hunting
‘Go Hunting’ is an innovative online
resource of up-to-date, best-practice
information for Aboriginal Art Centres
who are members of the four leading
peak bodies: Desart, ANKAAA, Ananguku
Arts and Culture, and UMI Arts.
The Stories, Art, Mon
(SAM) Database
The purpose of ‘Go Hunting’ is to
provide Art Centres with a single source
of high-quality, secure, relevant and
accessible information. This will increase
the capacity to operate effective, efficient
and successful Indigenous-owned
Art Centres, so ensuring sustainability,
vitality and creativity.
Your main administrative tool is the
Stories Art Money (SAM) database. This
online database, developed by Desart,
exports to MYOB or Quickbooks for
accounting. SAM is used to catalogue,
document, pay, invoice, receipt and issue
certificates of authenticity, and artists’
biographies. Everything you need to do to
buy and sell art at the Art Centre, you do
through SAM.
‘Go Hunting’ will be improved and
updated – please forward any feedback
to: [email protected]
Desart runs two SAM training courses
per year that are also an overview of Arts
Management practices at Art Centres –
enrol now!
Commercial and Administration
r Art Centres
Top 10 Legal Issues fo
nior Solicitor,
by Delwyn Everard, Se
Arts Law Centre of Au
A well-run centre needs a strong
Board or Committee that has a good
working relationship with its Manager.
The different roles of each member need
to be understood and respected. Meetings
should be well-run, well-attended, and all
decisions should be clearly recorded.
The Indigenous Art Code
The Indigenous Art Code sets simple
ethical standards of best practice –
understand it and make it work for you.
Establish compliant Artist Agreements
with all your artists. Try and deal with
galleries and art dealers who have signed
The Artists’ Resale
Royalty Scheme
Understand how the Artists’ Resale
Royalty Scheme works and sign-up your
artists. Consider whether you need to
adjust your arrangements with your
artists from one of direct purchase of
artworks, to a commission or advance on
a commission model.
Managing money and artwork after
an artist passes away is difficult, both
culturally and legally. The law has strict
rules about this that do not always meet
cultural expectations. It is much simpler
if the artist has made a will.
Happy employees are essential to a
positive workplace. Ensure everyone
understands their role by using clear
employment contracts. Understand your
occupational health and safety obligations.
Understand your legal obligations in relation to dismissal and discrimination.
Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property
(ICIP) is an integral part of every Art Centre –
understanding and respecting traditional
knowledge and culture in the way you
do business is essential. The law doesn’t
protect ICIP directly but you can use
protocols, contractual terms and notices to
help protecting the cultural integrity of the
artists and their art.
Get the arrangement in writing – whether
it’s an outside artist, printmaker, researcher, workshop provider, builder,
website designer or fabric manufacturer or
anyone else who wants to come into the
community and work with the artists or
the centre or provide a service. Spell out
the terms of any collaboration, think about
copyright ownership and ICIP – and write
it down and get agreement.
Commercial and Administration
Copyright is the value artists keep even
after the work has sold. It can generate
real money during an artist’s lifetime and
beyond – so do not give it away for free!
Teach the artists that this is an important
asset. Document any permission that
is given to reproduce an artwork. Sign
your artists up to a collecting society to
secure statutory and voluntary licensing
Debt Collection
Don’t keep dealing with galleries that
don’t pay. Have written agreements
that show when payment is due and
when unsold works must be returned.
Don’t wait a year to ask for the return of
unsold works. Find out how the Personal
Properties Securities Act affects the Art
Centre. You can start legal proceedings
to recover debts, but it is time consuming, frustrating and costly. It is better to
have systems in place that mean you are
unlikely to get to this stage.
Commercial Opportunities
Get them in writing! Think about the risks,
not just the rewards – ask yourself “What
if…? Do you need insurance? What’s
the timing? Who gets the intellectual
property in what is created? Has ICIP been
The most important thing to remember:
get legal advice! The Arts Law Centre of
Australia has a website with information
sheets on legal issues that you can
access for free. There are draft template
documents for many of the situations
described in this book, and a telephone
advice and document review service for a
small annual subscription see: and (Arts Law Centre of
Australia: 43–51 Cowper Wharf Road,
Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011; phone (02)
9356 2566 / 1800 221 457).
The Personal Property
Securities Act
Fact sheet specifically for Aboriginal art
and Art Centres:
How to Register
Create a Secured Party Group (you will
get a nine-digit number – print this page,
but it will also be emailed to you). You
must do this first, before attempting a
Creating a Registration
• Choose Commercial and
Non-Transitional Next
• Choose Other goods and then click the
collateral class button
• Description – Indigenous artworks and
craft items created by members of the
Arts Centre
• Choose the length of time – Arts Law
suggests 7 years (cost is then only $7.40)
click on calendar, then click on the
month/year to change the year… choose
the same date 7 years in the future
(today’s is 27/4/2019).
• In additional details click box 1 & 5, and
leave the default text in the box
• Leave both the below boxes blank
• Enter the details of the Gallery (ARBN
can be found online at:
ctrl-state=ji8zuyafp_19 by searching the
business name of the Gallery)
• If ACN or ARBN cannot be found click
‘no’ and enter the details Next
• Then confirm it is all correct, and pay
This is the method without creating an
account. Benefit of creating an account is
that you will be able to see all transaction
usage and obtain a full transaction listing
of the account, add multiple users to the
account (delegated user management),
and use of approval functions for reviewing and approving pending registration
Commercial and Administration
Director of Raft Artspace Dallas Gold, Alice Springs,
photo by Rhett Hammerton.
The Art Market
There is not the sufficient space here to
cover the complexity of the contemporary
art market – see Exhibitions, managing
relationships and the reading list at the
end of the guidebook. Be informed about
the art market and stay in touch with
dealers – knowing about the market is a
key aspect of the Art Centre Manager role.
The ‘market’ along with the ‘state’ (or
Government) are the two key external
influences on Art Centres. Commercial
and trading rules govern the art market:
the art market is not an adjusting market:
once you set a price, the only way is up.
• Subscribe to ‘ARTNews’
• Watch the auction prices
• Talk to your top galleries all the time
Pricing is not difficult, but so many Art
Centres have difficulties with it. Some
guides to pricing are available from
NAVA and the Australian Business Arts
Foundation (ABAF). If an Art Centre
overprices artwork it won’t sell, artists
become frustrated by a lack of sales and
the Art Centre business model will be
difficult to maintain. In this current
oversupplied market, price conservatively.
The Desert Mob exhibition is a perfect
opportunity to look at and compare your
pricing with other Art Centres.
In the past, some Art Centres, under the
pressure of hype and popularity, have
let their prices soar and literally priced
themselves out of the market. Art prices
are not like property prices – they are
not variable. You can’t sell a painting for
$12,000 in February and then $4000 later
in the year.
isee-ilearn Resources:
the Art Centre Money
Story in Language
Go to and
click on Art Centre under categories.
Here you will find Waiting for the Money
and Selling a Painting. These are two
educational stories developed by Desart
staff and Directors for use by Art Centre
Directors and staff. The resources are
currently in Arrernte but you can work at
your Art Centre to provide language
translation by downloading the free
software – a great governance or team
Commercial and Administration
Marketing and Promot
A key concept for limited marketing
budgets at the Art Centre is ‘opportunity
cost’ of finances, and also in staff time.
Most Art Centres have very limited
marketing budgets. Make every dollar
count through either increasing sales,
increased exhibition opportunities or
value adding to your brand.
Marketing opportunities that you will need
to appraise may include:
• Advertising in magazines – check
the distribution and readership and
always ask for a discount and a bigger
ad – bargain
• Websites – keep it simple, you don’t
need to outlay all your profit before you
have made it, some Art Centres don’t
have websites as they don’t have the
amount of artwork or staff time to keep it
up to date – a blog is a good alternative
• Art Fairs – do a full budget and a full
‘cost–benefit analysis’;
Marketing undertaken in haste can have
a negative impact – bad t-shirts, an awful
logo, a pixelated magazine advertisement,
a website that is not user-friendly – these
are all negative marketing strategies which
may damage the Art Centre brand.
TIP: Would spending $2000 on a
magazine advertisement have more
impact than travelling to Sydney to
attend an exhibition opening and
promoting the Art Centre face-to-face?
Working with the Med
You will be called on from time to time for
comments, interviews and information
by the media. Have your key messages
and statements handy. Be prepared
with statistics. Have media training for
Directors and staff. Good media coverage
impacts on public opinion and adds value
to your Art Centre ‘brand.’
TOP Visitors at the Ninuku Arts exhibition in New York,
photo by Claire Eltringham, © Ninuku Arts
BOTTOM Ninuku Arts exhibition in New York with artists Yangi Yangi Fox and
Puntjina Monica Watson in attendance, Photo Gallery nine5, © Gallery nine5
A medium-sized exhibition schedule at an
Art Centre might look like this:
January – New York City, group show
February – Perth, group show
March – Darwin, solo show, travel with
April – Brisbane, group show
May – Melbourne, solo show travel
with artist
June – Sydney, group show
July – Singapore, group show
August – Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
Most Art Centres work closely with a
select group of galleries on an annual
exhibition program – artists then work
toward those commitments. This is your
primary commercial area. Use a mix of
solo and group shows, a mix of mediums.
Maybe include one or two international
exhibitions. If the Art Centre produces 50
absolute ‘gun’ works a year – you need to
make them work best for the Art Centre,
giving them the most exposure and best
placement that you can.
October – Hobart, group show
Always make sure that an Exhibition
Contract is in place and signed by all
parties before sending any artwork.
Considerations are: commission,
insurance, freight and handling, customs
declaration and exporting regulations
around art made from natural materials
(if it is headed overseas).
September – Desert Mob
November – Adelaide, solo show
December – Christmas show in community
‘When working with commercial galleries,
the most important thing to remember
is respecting the relationship. All the
galleries have earned their position
by what they have contributed to the
industry. They not only provide
representation for Indigenous artists
and Art Centres, they also play a key
role in curatorship, documentation, sales,
promotion and marketing. A good gallery
representative has valuable insight into
the industry and can work effectively
with artists and Art Centres in a positive,
long-term partnership.’
Claire Eltringham, Ninuku Arts, APY Lands,
South Australia
Commercial and Administration
Exhibitions by
Learning Centre
Top 12 things YALC thinks about for an
1. Make sure the work is really good
2. Tell people about the Learning Centre
so they know why it is so important
3.Feel proud that people want to buy
the work
4. Understand that it takes time for the
money to come home
5. Working together – laughing, telling
stories, drinking tea – to make good art
for the exhibition
6. Be proud of each other’s work
7. Go to the exhibitions and talk to
people about the art and the Learning
8. Take photos of the exhibition and
look at them afterwards – see how nice
the artwork looks
9. Make money to buy good things
10. Think about why we make this art
11. Managing commercial relationships
These are extremely valuable – Art
Centre Managers are trusted and
employed to nurture and maintain
these relationships for the benefits
of the artists and Art Centres. These
relationships are emotive and
time-consuming, the ‘bread and
butter’ of the Art Centre
12. Reputation
“Embrace the present: we are in an
industry that is always changing.”
Claire Eltringham, Ninuku Arts
The Indigenous Art Co
The Indigenous Art Code aims to ensure
fair trade with Indigenous artists by:
• establishing a set of standards for
commercial-dealing with Indigenous
visual artists;
• providing a benchmark for ethical
behaviour; and
• building greater consumer certainty
that artwork purchased comes through
ethical processes.
Commercial art dealers located in
Australia or internationally, including Art
Centres, galleries and individual dealers can show their commitment to fair
and transparent business dealings with
artists by becoming a Dealer Member of
Indigenous Art Code Limited (IartC) and
a signatory to the Code. Find out more
about becoming a Dealer Member.
IartC membership is also open to
Indigenous artists and any organisation
or individual who is not involved in
commercial dealing with artists but who
would like to show their support for the
Code and be involved in IartC. Find out
more about Indigenous Artist membership and Code Supporter membership.
Commercial and Administration
The Artists’ Resale
Royalty Scheme
The Artists Resale Royalty Scheme
started on 9 March 2010, introduced by
the Australian Government. Copyright
Agency Limited (CAL), based in Sydney,
was chosen to run the scheme. Resale
royalties are collected and distributed
to artists across Australia. As of January
2012, over $530,000 has been generated
by the scheme and 66% of resales have
been paid to Indigenous artists across
What is resale royalty?
When an artwork – a painting, limited
edition print, sculpture or carving, etc. –
resells a second or further time for over
$1000 through a gallery, auction house,
Art Centre or art dealer, the artist is
entitled to receive a 5% royalty. So if an
artwork resells a second time for $1000
through a gallery or auction house, then
the artist will be entitled to receive $50.
Key features of the scheme:
• applies to resales of existing and new
• applies to a range of original
artworks, including limited edition
prints authorised by the artist
• does not apply to a private sale from
one individual to another
• all resales of $1000 or more must be
• a royalty is not payable on the first
change of hands after 9 June 2011
• a royalty is not payable on resales
under $1000
• the Scheme will be extended to
artworks from countries that have
similar schemes.
If you wish to register as an artist, this
can be done online at www.resaleroyalty.; or call Trish Adjei or Tristan Chant
at the Copyright Agency on 1800 066
844. If you are an Art Centre or dealer
and have queries about reporting to the
Copyright Agency, please contact Judy
Grady on 1800 066 844.
Now that your administrative and legal
issues are in check, get your money story
straight – maintain all your contracts,
make accurate records of transactions,
and hence keep the Art Centre economy
6. Finance and Econo
To be clear about commercial
administration, finance and economic
activities, it helps to think about their
• Commercial – in the market place,
with customers
• Administration – in the office and on
the computer
• Finance – money transactions, at the
bank and office, with customers and
• Economic – in the marketplace,
with customers, with artists, with
government: production, distribution,
consumption, all of it!
The difference between finance and
economy is that the finance only relates to money – cash in and cash out.
Economy relates to the exchange of
anything that has value.
Financial Managemen
A simple financial analysis of the Art
x number of artists paint y number of
paintings per year at an average of z
value = total revenue
60% is paid to the artist upon the sale of
the work and 40% to the Art Centre to
operate the business
On average, if x = 30 y = 20 and z = $500,
total annual revenue = $300,000 per year.
Artists’ income would then be $180,000
and Art Centre operational contributions
would be $120,000.
The financial management of the Art
Centre is vital. Never pretend that you
understand something that you don’t.
Always ask your bookkeeper, accountant
and auditor lots of questions. Know how
to read a balance sheet and a profit-andloss statement. If you don’t know what
these are watch a clip on YouTube, ask
your accountant to walk you through
step-by-step, come to a Desart financial
management workshop or read the
book How To Read A Balance Sheet For
Balance sheet
A balance sheet provides a picture of the
financial health of the organisation:
• Assets – ownership of items that can
be converted into cash
• Liabilities – items for which you are
committed to make payment
• Accumulated surplus – total assets
less total liabilities plus current year
• Profit-and-loss statement
• Displays the revenues and expenses
for a specific period of time
• Shows whether the entity made or
lost money during the period
• Revenues – cash inflow; other
enhancements of assets
• Expenses – cost outflow; loss of
assets; liabilities
Finance and Economy
Account Set Up
The Art Centre business model
Two sides 1) Artists 2) Art Centre
DGR Account
Art Sales/
Banking and reporting to
to Government,
to the Tax Office
(money held in trust)
pay artist
pay artist
Other funding that
Donatable Gift
Recipient Status requires its own bank
account, if stipulated
SAM – stories, art, money
arts database
transfer Art Centre commision, GST,
non-art-sales (books,freight) weekly
pay artist
Art materials
Grant $
Interest $
This is a recommended accounts set-up: for more information attend Desart training or contact the Desart office.
Thanks to Tim Acker for his inspiring workshop sketches.
Accountants, Auditors
Maintain your audit trail – test it weekly!
Your relationship with your accountant
or bookkeeper is paramount. Especially in
dealing with debtors: make sure that you
follow up money due from clients every
month with statements. If you have issues
securing payment consider employing a
debt-collecting agency. Make sure that
your accountant or bookkeeper is
available to talk you through any financial
issues. Ask them for plain English notes
for your reports to your Directors.
TIP: consider a MYOB or QuickBooks
short course so that you can understand
the process and export from your arts
database more efficiently. There are Art
Centre mavericks who take this on as
part of their role. For transparency and
continuity, outsourcing is a good idea.
Understanding GST
A lot of Managers have a hard time
wrapping their head around how and
when to apply GST. The Australian Tax
Office has a handout that will help: www.
onomy in the
The Aboriginal Arts Ec
d Policy Challenges
Centre: Marketing an
by Jon Altman*
The Aboriginal visual arts economy in
remote Australia, and in the jurisdiction
of Desart, can be understood as a form
of cultural production destined for the
market economy. But what is produced,
and hopefully sold, emanates from a very
human economy and complex social
relations that are rarely well understood.
The production of visual arts for
national and global art markets by remote
Aboriginal people has had a short,
complex and dynamic history. Artists in
central Australia were among the earliest
players in the re-orientation of visual
culture for the tourist and fine art markets.
There is no doubt that the arts economy
has been an outstanding success, in
large measure because of rare values and
aesthetic commensurabilities between
Aboriginal artists and non-Aboriginal
buyers domestically and globally. And so
it is surprising just how little we know
about the Aboriginal arts economy, both
nationally and in the centre, in terms of
its commercial market size and its value
to the household economies of artists.
Historically the genesis of the sector
can be closely associated with a period
of decolonization of remote Aboriginal
Australia from the 1970s that was defined
by the state as a policy era of ‘selfdetermination’. A number of policy
changes during this period assisted to
incubate Aboriginal arts production
and marketing including the granting of
land rights, support for the outstations
movement, and a state focus on
facilitating alternate forms of livelihood
for Aboriginal people where they lived.
To some extent the arts economy, from
the outset, was highly reliant on state
support and promotion primarily because
the marketing channels between artists
and buyers were missing – sometimes
referred to as ‘missing markets’ – which
justified public funding support.
* Jon Altman is professor of economic anthropology at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at
Australian National University. He has a long-standing involvement in the Aboriginal visual arts sector, chairing
the 1989 review of the Arts and Crafts Industry that developed the framework for the NACIS program; and, in
2003, developing the NT Indigenous Arts Strategy.
Finance and Economy
Institutions of Indigenous Australia that
have been central to the sustainability of
the arts sector:
• Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia
Council – core support for Art Centres
from the early 1970s;
• the Community Development
Employment Projects (CDEP) scheme –
base income support for artists from
the early 1970s and support for regional
outstation resource agencies from the
late 1970s; and
• the 1991 National Arts and Crafts
Industry Support program, recently
re-named the Indigenous Visual Arts
Industry Support (IVAIS) program.
From an Aboriginal perspective, the
production of art does not just reflect economic imperatives, although livelihood is
of crucial importance; it is as much about
identity and political representation – the
politics of land rights and place.
Art is produced in difficult, often
impoverished circumstances. For many
Aboriginal people, especially in the most
remote regions, the visual arts represent
the only means to earn cash beyond
CDEP wages or welfare and opportunity
to engage with neoliberal globalization
through the commodification of culture.
Art is not only produced in a diversity of
circumstances, but there are also diverse
styles whose market popularity can rise
or fall. It would be wrong though to hold
utopian notions that the arts will be the
only mainstay of remote Indigenous
economies. Not all people can be successful artists, arts income will be one sector
of complex hybrid economies. However,
if arts marketing institutions and support
are properly structured and managed,
then the arts can continue to make a
significant contribution in many places.
Arts policies need to be carefully crafted
to recognise such realities and diversity.
Ensuring sustainability when faced with
fluctuations in market demand owing to
changes in tastes, competition and the
overarching economic climate (including
the value of the Australian dollar) is an
enormous challenge.
TIP: Financial management of the Art
Centre is high pressured. Reporting the
money story to Directors is a challenge.
Make sure that the accountant provides
plain English notations with your reports.
Now you’re doing such a great job of
the finances and your Art Centre economy
is strong, you begin to notice that the
Art Centre could do with a paint job, the
packing table needs replacing, taking on
volunteers would be good, maybe a flat
or transportable? The men have been
talking about a workshop for carving…
time to get political and social.
7. Political
Art Centres in themselves are an
expression of political power. That
Aboriginal people continue to live on
country and express their connection
to country, in spite of colonisation,
is a political statement.
“From an Aboriginal perspective, the
production of art does not just reflect
economic imperatives, although
livelihood is of crucial importance; it is
as much about identity-making and
political representation – the politics of
land rights and place.” Prof. Jon Altman
Political capital or political power can
make a great difference to the Art Centre.
Many Directors also sit on other boards
and have a strong political base. Talk to
Ministers and their advisors and those
in the opposition also. Don’t be shy; tell
them all about the Art Centre.
From the Art Centre Conference in 2012:
“Everyone needs training and practice in
this area”.
“Aboriginal mob need to speak up!”
Protocols for
Visiting Ministers
When you receive notice that a Minister
is visiting the community, especially if
their portfolio is directly related to the
Art Centre – such as the Minister for
the Arts or Indigenous Affairs – get in
contact with their Advisors. Send through
background information on the language
and culture of the region. Offer to host an
event: a media conference, morning tea
or performance. Work closely with your
Chairperson so that they can provide a
‘Welcome to Country’ and a tour of the
Art Centre. Don’t be shy – the Minister
works for you, this is an important part of
Art Centre advocacy.
Prepare a simple briefing document
with key issues and raise them with the
Governance is a big, broad term. It relates
to traditional protocols, leadership and
also particular legislation.
Corporate governance normally refers to
corporations registered with ORIC (www. The Australian Government –
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous
Corporations provides training, resources,
recruitment assistance and more for
registered corporations. Not all Art Centres
are registered with ORIC, some operate
under a larger Aboriginal organisation,
some are housed within the Shire system
and others act as an annex to a school or a
Non-Government Organisation (NGO).
All Art Centres should have Aboriginal
decision-making at the centre of
their operations either through legal
incorporation, a constitutional steering
committee or a subcommittee.
Aboriginal Governance in the community
will be based on traditional law and is
mostly separated into women’s business
and men’s business.
TIP: Check out the Indigenous
Governance tool kit – visit the website
for tools, templates, video tutorials:
Governance at the Art Centre is a mix
of cultural authority, communal and
collaborative decision-making, men’s and
women’s business, and ORIC compliance,
such as Annual General Meetings.
The Policy Environmen
Several policy areas impact the Art
Centre: Indigenous Affairs, arts, employment and health. You don’t need to sit up
at night reading policy – Desart does that!
You do need to make sure that visitors
to the community understand the role
of the Art Centre as the arts and cultural
authority in the community.
Community Politics
As in all aspects of society, in
communities elites often step to the
front. Be aware that sometimes it is the
little old lady or man sitting on the edge
of things who has the cultural authority.
Don’t get involved in blackfella politics
and don’t get involved in whitefella
politics – just do your Art Centre job and
take care of reporting to the Art Centre
The political is tied closely to the social –
or social capital.
Unscrupulous People
and the Art Centre
8. Social
Social capital is made up of all those
valuable networks, friends and
supporters. Social capital is nothing
unless it is activated – what is the point
in the curator at the Art Gallery of New
South Wales loving the work from the Art
Centre if you don’t communicate? Stay
in touch with all friends of the Art Centre
and keep them excited about the Art
TIP: At the Annual Art Centre Conference,
the most important social capital was
identified as ‘From Art Centre to Art
Centre.’ The Desart network is 50 Art
Centre Members strong – activate it!
Friends of the Art Cent
Most communities and Art Centres have
long-standing relationships (friendships)
with people who have supported the
artists and the Art Centre. Often these
people (friends of the Art Centre) can
be frustrated with re-establishing
relationships with new Managers. Your
handover from the previous Manager
and induction by Desart staff will provide
you with guidance in this area.
There is also negative social capital –
think of that friend who offers you a
cigarette when you’re trying to quit
or that person who always owes you
money. Some people have a negative
impact on the Art Centre and artists.
Be aware that some people may take
advantage of new staff to fabricate
relationships. There are a number of very
unscrupulous people in the industry,
which is why it is very important to
take relationships slowly. Be open and
friendly, but always seek the expertise of
the Art Centre artists and governing
committee. Your handover from the
previous Manager and induction by
Desart staff will provide you with
guidance in this area.
TIP: Central to your role at the Art Centre
is traversing and mediating between
worlds and cultures, artists and the
marketplace, good deals and not so
good deals, culture and commerce. Your
relationships are the key.
It is important to check with the Art
Centre senior artists, Desart and nearby
Art Centres. Relationships are complex,
difficult and valuable – please contact
Desart for advice or to request assistance
and mentoring. Always seek advice and
take your time in decision-making.
Built Environment
9. Built Environment
The built environment consists of all
that you can touch and feel – buildings,
vehicles, furniture, computers, cameras
and machinery.
Tjala Arts in Amata made a presentation
at the 2012 Art Centre conference about
what they had learnt from several major
infrastructure projects including an Art
Centre building: “Remember community
– it is hard for Aboriginal people with
dire housing needs to see infrastructure
money going to whitefellas’ housing.”
Step back and create room for Directors
and artists to lobby direct:
“Get the money story Budget early from
your staff – Anangu hate a late money
story it makes everyone worried. It is hard
for Anangu to see money for whitefella
staff housing in some communities where
there are not enough houses for Anangu,
but having good staff is so important for
your Art Centre. And Art Centre staff will
stay in the community if you look after
them with a decent wally.”
“Start planning on the ground so if the
$$ come tomorrow you are shovel-ready
– secure the site as early as possible. It’s
better if everyone in the community is
sold on your need for funding. Involve
all relevant stakeholders – encourage
other stakeholders to advocate on
behalf of the Art Centre. Identify suitable
under-utilised and unused housing or
infrastructure resources in community,
and ask for use of it once a week for the
rest of your life.”
Papunya Tjupi working
out of their new Art Centre
at Papunya
Maureen Poulson Napangardi ‘Kalipinypa Tjukurrpa’ 2012
Acrylic on canvas, photo by Tamara Borlando
© the artist courtesy Papunya Tjupi
Built Environment
Do we own the Land?
Art Centres and the
Built Environment
by Sue Dugdale*
Land Tenure and
Sue prepared the following for a
presentation at the 2012 Desart Art Centre
conference. This following list provides Art
Centre Managers, staff and artists with a
number of questions that may already be
on your mind, or may be items you have
not yet considered in relation to capital
works projects. It is not an exhaustive list,
and all projects are different.
Find out the status of the land you want
to use, even if you are already on it:
• Who has a say in how we use the
land? Who do we need to get permission from?
• Consult local senior cultural advisors
and/or community councils
• Get planning permission (required in
the NT)
• Get AAPA clearance if required
• Service authority advice – this is
Power Water Corporation in the NT.
They can tell you whether you can get
services including electricity, water and
sewer to your lot, what is involved, and
they may give an idea of cost. These
connections can be very expensive if
the services are not nearby
* Sue Dugdale is an architect and project manager based in Alice Springs.
Time Issues
How Long will it Take?
Your Project Manager should be able to
give you a realistic idea. Ask them for a
program showing all stages of the work.
If there are no lengthy land tenure issues
to resolve first, a small project (say up
to $300,000) might take 12 months. A
medium project (say up to $1m) might
take 18 months. A larger project ($1m to
$3m) might take 2 years. Projects can
easily take longer than this as there are
many variables.
How do we get Permission
to use the Land?
• You may have to formalize your
lot, especially if you are in the NT.
Ask DESART, CLC, your local Shire or
your Project Manager (if you have one
already) how to go about this. It will be
different in each state/territory
• You can ask your Project Manager to
follow-up these approvals as part of
their services
How can I make it go
Keep in mind that faster is not always
better. Thorough is always good.
Keep in regular contact with your Project
Manager. Don’t let them put your project
on the backburner.
Use the program your Project Manager
has provided to keep track of progress.
Some worthwhile things can make a
project go more slowly, for example,
employing or training a local labour force
on the job.
Built Environment
Budget Issues
How do I apply for
Funding in the First Place?
If it is a small project, seek advice from
Desart on the cost of similar projects
and how to apply. Allow extra for cost
If you have a medium or larger project
in mind, pay an experienced Project
Manager to prepare a concept for you
and get a ‘concept stage’ costing from a
professional cost consultant (see second
dot point below). This outlay might be
lost if you don’t get funding, but this
preparation is very acceptable to funding
bodies and also forms the basis for good
project management.
What will it Really Cost?
How much can I build
with the Funds I have?
• Know your budget and work within it
• Find out from your funding body(s)
whether the amount includes or
excludes GST
• Ask your Project Manager to get
professional advice at an early stage
from a qualified cost consultant about
your ‘whole-of-project’ costs. This is
very different from the ‘construction
cost’ and should also include consultants’ fees, authorities’ fees and charges,
service connection costs, escalation
(i.e. increase in construction costs up
to the time you will build), NT Build
Levy (if you are in the NT), project
contingency amount for unforeseen
items, administration and accounting
costs, loose furniture and equipment, IT
fit-out and equipment and other items
• If you have a medium to large project
you should use the professional cost
consultant to give you further costings
at key stages throughout the project
• Remember that advice from a builder
will not establish your whole-of-project
How do I get Value for
Manage your project well to avoid
unexpected costs. As a rule of thumb,
you will generally get more value from
extending or altering an existing building
than starting from scratch, however, get a
professional Project Manager or architect
to evaluate this for you.
Communicate ALL your requirements
to your Project Manager as early as
possible, as late changes incur higher
costs especially in remote locations.
Tender the construction to get
competitive prices (see points below
under ‘Construction Issues’).
Other Issues
We can afford to build
it but can we afford to
own it?
This is the perennial issue of capital V’s
recurrent funding. All buildings have
ongoing maintenance requirements and
costs and these tend to increase over
time as the building ages. The bigger the
building, the higher the costs. Consider
whether your organisation can afford to
own a large building before proceeding.
In particular, heating and cooling systems
can be very costly to run. You may have
a ‘swampie’ now and feel that a ducted
heating/cooling system would be better,
but obtain actual power usage before
making this commitment and calculate
the monthly or annual cost of electricity.
If you are undertaking a larger project,
ask your Project Manager to provide an
estimate of the running and lifecycle
costs of the building (i.e. all maintenance
and replacement costs for the life of the
building, showing an amount per year
from the completion of construction).
How do I Manage Really
Small Projects?
For single trade items of work, get written
quotes and be clear about what work the
quote is covering.Use a building contract
even for small projects. Seek advice from
a Project Manager, architect or the Master
Builders Association about an appropriate
Process and Managem
How do I start the
• Wait until your funding is secured, and
then act promptly
• Don’t leave it until your funding is
about to expire, as this introduces
unnecessary pressures and risks for
meeting the funding deadline
• Ask other Art Centres to see how they
went about it and get their advice on
the consultants they used, and what
they would do differently if they were
starting again
• Engage an experienced Project
Manager, get a fixed quote and a detailed
description of their services
• Set up your own processes in relation
to the project including record keeping,
accounting, contracts with consultants
and contractors – make it thorough
enough for your organisation’s accountability and for handing over to new staff
if necessary (construction projects often
outlive staff in remote organisations)
• Be prepared for the amount of work
involved with a project even when you
have a Project Manager/architect on
board. Your role as the client is key to the
success of the project
Built Environment
How and Who do I select
as a Project Manager?
Check directories and the internet
for local consultants, these may be
architects, professional Project Managers
(not builders), or people who have gained
experience in project managing after
coming from other disciplines, e.g., arts
Ask around and gauge the experience
and reputation of consultants who have
managed work on remote communities.
Talk to/meet more than one potential
Project Manager to see if they have the
approach that suits your organisation and
Could I run the Whole
There is a lot of time, work and expertise
involved in managing a construction
project. If you have all of these you may
be in a position to manage the project
• Check if your funding agreement
requires the use of a Project Manager/
independent consultant
• Should this project be part of a master
• If there is any likelihood that the Art
Centre will develop beyond the current
project in years to come, establishing a
concept master plan is a very good idea
• A concept master plan can be fairly
simple and should take into account
how to use the buildings, available
land including good environmental
design, vehicle access and parking,
developing positive outdoor spaces
as well as buildings, and how services
exist or are brought into the site
• New service connections can be sized
for a future larger centre
• Include a concept master-plan stage in
your Project Manager’s services if you
need one
• How do I report to the funding body?
• Find out from your funding body(s)
at the start of the project what their
reporting requirements are so you know
what records to keep. The funding body
may also have particular requirements
about how the project is managed
What if I inherit an
existing project or a
‘project gone wrong’?
Review how far along the project is and
collate all records relating to the project.
Contact the Project Manager (if there is one)
and obtain a briefing on the project to date.
If the project is running well then confirm
the budget and program and support the
project to continue.
If the project has stalled or is not going
well, assess how many steps back you can
take to establish good project management,
including engaging a Project Manager,
establishing a realistic project budget and
scope of work.
You may need to consult a lawyer.
What is the Difference
between a Project
Manager and an Architect?
Both can manage the many and varied
aspects of projects, however, an architect
has spent a minimum of 5 years training in
design and design processes, and has gone
through a formal examination process
on managing building contracts (this
process is managed by the NT and Federal
Governments and architects are registered
once they have passed the exams).
A Project Manager may have some or all of
these skills but there is no formal and legal
process to govern their qualifications and
Design Issues
How can we get the most
out of the Design?
• Establish who should be involved
in the design process – a group of
interested people including artists and
staff can bring several perspectives
and local wisdom to the project
• Write your own brief – lists of
aspirations, functional requirements,
items that need rectification (if you
are starting with an existing building),
even if all of the items don’t seem to
go together
• Take time to get the design right.
Most design processes need some
open ‘brainstorming’ time, some
critical evaluation, checking against the
budget, and some time for review. This
can be a cycle that repeats two or more
times in the process of getting a good
• If you have a professional designer or
architect working with you, make sure
they can communicate their designs to
the organisation/steering committee/
design group, and help this process to
Built Environment
Do we want an
‘Architectural Statement’?
Are Transportables/ATCO
Type Buildings Cheaper?
Yes they are, but they are also lesser in
quality so you get what you pay for.
Transportables can be a satisfactory
solution to a tight budget and can
sometimes be delivered sooner than a
conventional building.Other costs will
still be the same such as establishing
land tenure and paying for service
connections, so over a whole project
budget transportables don’t save as
much as may first appear:
• Transportables have a shorter life
span so suit temporary and short-term
• Transportables can be constructed to
perform well environmentally, but they
are limited in the spatial quality they
can provide, e.g., connecting indoor and
outdoor spaces, disabled access
Is Local Knowledge
Yes, locals will understand a range of
issues important to the project – the local
microclimate, how the existing Art Centre
is used, what the aspirations of the local
artists or community are and how the
space in the community works.
‘Architectural statements’ (visually
arresting designs) can add value to an Art
Centre in a number of ways, for example,
by expressing local pride, attracting
tourists and demonstrating particular
values. An architectural statement may
cost more but not necessarily, so discuss
this with your Project Manager. An
architectural statement should never be
at the expense of good, functional design,
it should be integrated with all the design
requirements of the project.
Construction Issues
How do I get Quality
Construction that won’t
Cause Problems Later?
• Try to engage with the building design
during the planning and documentation
stages so that you do not need to make
changes during construction. You may
need to ask your Project Manager for a
3-D model to help this process during
the design stages
• Use a builder who has a good
reputation – find out by asking their
previous clients
• Have a thorough contract with your
builder, even if they are a local
community organisation
• Have your Project Manager or someone experienced in the construction
industry to check the builder’s work
and administer the contract
• Include a ‘defects liability period’
in your contract, a 12 month period is
standard in the construction industry
• Ask your Project Manager how they
will manage issues of quality and
standards. You may want to get an
out-of-area building permit for your
project (Northern Territory). All buildings require maintenance on a regular
basis. Consider whether a perceived
‘defect’ is really a requirement for
ongoing maintenance and not the fault
of a builder
Art Centre Vehicles
Also known as: Truck, Motor, Car, Mutaka,
Motikas, Toyota.
Vehicles make community life go around.
They are integral to getting in and out of
the community, visiting country, hunting,
ceremony, status and much more.
Mutakas are an important resource in
communities: they are often at the centre
of intense humbug. Having a clear vehicle
policy in place developed at the Executive
level will assist in looking after this Art
Centre resource – see www.gohunting. for vehicle policy samples.
When a vehicle goes on a trip it can
often get waylaid on other journeys. The
vehicle may be going to pick up an artist
or drop off materials and all other sorts of
needs come into play:
• Transporting people
• Passing on important news
• Picking up and dropping off supplies
• Checking in on family
•General checking up and cruising
Manager of Warakurna Artists Edwina Circuitt collecting firewood,
photo by Eleanor Watson, © Warakurna Artists
You will need to choose early on whether
you stress out over these trips or not. In
reality these community needs will always
exist – you just need to maintain some
balance and fairness over the use of the
vehicle to ensure that it doesn’t go on trips
hunting or to neighboring communities or
in to town when it is needed for Art Centre
Built Environment
TIP: The strictest policies seen at Desart
are those set by the Directors through
putting all their concerns on the table
and making it policy.
Be aware of duty-of-care and due
diligence issues in transporting aged and
frail people in and out of vehicles.
Walkatjara artists Judy Trigger, Daisy Walkabout,
Joyce Tjalyiri, Rene Kulitja, lunch-break on their way
home from the Desart Managers Conference April 2012,
photo by Kara Dodson, © Walkatjara Arts
Road Conditions
and Closures
Roads can often be closed due to flash
floods, and dirt roads can turn into a
boggy mess in a short period of time.
Roads can also be closed due to business
or ceremony: this may be indicated by
44-gallon drums with a plank of wood,
a pile of branches or large logs. Never
enter these areas and always follow the
instructions that you are given.
Call the local land council or police to
check on road closures and conditions.
If in doubt don’t drive.
Important – please, please, please do
a 4WD course as soon as possible.
This is essential for your safety, the safety
of your passengers and the maintenance
of the vehicle. If you have done a course
in the past, consider a refresher course in
Alice Springs: contact Jol Fleming, phone
(08) 8952 3359 –
You’ve heard the cliché ‘kartiya (whitefellas) are like troopies – use ’em until they
break down and then get a new one’. It’s
an old expression heard across Central
Australia and the Top End. It’s ok! Troopies
are highly valued: they have skin, take
you hunting, provide kudos, bring babies
home and take bodies to the grave. So it’s
ok to be a ‘troopie’ – just make sure you
check your rego annually and book in for
a regular service!
Built Environment
IT Infrastructure
Desart has an IT Service and Support
program; however, it doesn’t cover
hardware or software.
TIP: For cheap software visit: – DonorTec provides
donated and discounted technology
products and services from companies
such as Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec and
Sophos to eligible income tax-exempt
(ITE) Australian not-for-profit groups. Via
this program your nonprofit organisation
can access the latest products.
Also, check out Connecting up Australia:
IT Hardware and the
False Economy
The false economy story – purchase a
cheap printer for $200, cartridges cost a
fortune $180 to replace and the whole
thing is so cheap that it gets full of dust
and breaks down, costs $500 to repair,
might as well buy a new one. Buy a good
printer for $1,500, comes with 3 free
cartridges then $80 each, it has warranty
and the IT service person visits your area.
For example, calculate costs over 2 years…
Cheap printer:
Outlay $200
Cartridges x 6 Repairs $500
Quality of printing 1/5
Regret and stress 4/5
$1580 + poor printing and high stress
Medium-priced printer:
Outlay Cartridges x 6 (incl. 3 free) $240
Repairs (under warranty for 1 year) $120
Quality of printing 4/5
Regret and stress 0/5
$1860 + good-quality printing and no stress
You get what you pay for. Don’t waste Art
Centre money. Cheap computers don’t
deal with heat and dust. Cheap cameras
take terrible pictures and the mechanism
on the fixed lens that draws it in and out
always lets you down.
TIP: Talk to your accountant about your
asset register and depreciation.
In summary – do your homework, look at
more than the initial cost and don’t waste
IT Hardware Donations
There are many communities who have
partnerships and relationships with
private schools and academies. An Art
Centre in 2012, through the social skills of
their Directors, was donated 10 new Mac
computers and four iPads, all set up with
software, desks and chairs.
Summary of the
Nine Key Areas of
Art Centre Operations
The nine areas: culture; country; art;
people; commercial and administration;
finance and economy; political; social;
and built environment.
Each section included a description of the
key area, what it looks like, important
actions from the 2012 Desart conference,
sample actions and ideas, information,
stories and resources.
All these areas interact and impact each
• Commercial reputation affects finances
• Political power can affect the built
• Art affects economy
Some would argue that without social
capital an Art Centre will not work:
You need friends and supporters.
An Art Centre can close down:
• when art doesn’t sell or there is too
• when people don’t support the Art
• when money gets spent the wrong way
• when it has the wrong kind of workers
Warning –
an Art Centre can Clos
When people stop working together;
art, people and money go down, the Art
Centre goes down. When culture and
country are respected as the foundation
of the Art Centre and the Manager
works well with the Government and
understands and tunes into markets,
the Art Centre has a chance at being
If you work together on strategies and
resources in the key areas – art; people;
commercial and administrative; finance
and economy; built environment; the
political; and social – the Art Centre will
be resilient and grow.
Help! I Need Someone
not Just Anyone
Important People and Numbers:
• Counselling and coaching service –
EASA phone: 1800 193 123
• Indigenous Coordination Centre (ICC),
Alice Springs phone: (08) 8958 4265
• Desart phone: (08) 8953 4736
• Your nearest Art Centre buddy
[write their name and location here]:
Funding Bodies – Information, Assistance and Support
Funding Bodies – Info
Assistance and Suppo
There are Project Officers and brokers at
the agencies that fund the Art Centre.
There are no wrong doors and no stupid
questions. Call them.
When you begin your new job at the Art
Centre, you will hear colleagues rattling
off acronyms. In the beginning, it sounds
like another language:
“You need to talk to the eye see see and
off ta about the eye vase icks and the ee
sub. Go see oz ko in Sydney or ay bee ay
ay at faks see uh in Canberra.”
and legislation to promote Australian
arts and culture. The Office for the Arts
(OFTA) works to support Australia’s rich
arts, cultural and Indigenous sectors. It
provides operational funding for a large
number of Aboriginal-owned Art Centres.
OFTA is a substantial contributor to
Desart’s operational funding. OFTA is the
lead agency for IVAIS (eye-vase) and ICS
(icks) Art Centre funding.
Got it?! Don’t worry, it won’t take long
before you are talking the same language!
DEEWR (dee-werr)
FaHCSIA (faks-see-uh)
The Australian Government Department
of Families and Housing, Community
Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)
is the Australian Government’s lead
coordination agency in Indigenous Affairs.
It has a range of programs to assist
Indigenous people, and is responsible
for social policies and support affecting
Australian society and the living standards of Australian families (www.fahcsia.
OFTA (off-tuh)
The Australian Government Department
of Prime Minister and Cabinet, houses the
Office for the Arts which develops and
implements national policy, programs
The Department of Education,
Employment and Workplace Relations is
the lead Government agency providing
national leadership in education and
workplace training, transition to work
and conditions and values in the workplace (
ICC (eye-see-see)
Indigenous Coordination Centres (ICCs)
operate in 30 locations around Australia
including: Alice Springs, Tennant
Creek, Kalgoorlie, and Port Augusta.
They look after most of the Australian
Government’s Indigenous programs and
can bring together funding packages to
meet local and regional needs. ICCs are
managed by FaHCSIA. Staff from OFTA and
DEEWR can be in the ICCs, as well as staff
from other Government agencies.
In Western Australia each Community has
its own elected Council and employed
Community Development Advisor
(CDA) who runs the local Community.
The Council Office is often the central
point of Community information. In the
Ngaanyatjarra lands there is also the
Ngaanyatjarra Council, a representative
body for the Central Desert Region, which
provides services and policy development
for the area and also administers the
permit system.
In South Australia each Community
has its own elected Council and a
Municipal Services Officer (MSO). Smaller
Communities may have an MSO in a
shared position. The local government
system in the APY lands is currently
changing, so check the local situation.
The permit system is administered by
APY Council.
Since the Northern Territory Emergency
Response (NTER), popularly called
‘the Intervention’, the Federal
Government has taken control of remote
communities – from 2012 this policy
bundle is called “Building Stronger
Futures.” You will hear a lot about
Closing the Gap. Each Community has
a Government Business Manager (GBM)
who lives in the Community, although
some GBMs work across a number of
smaller Communities. The relationship
with the GBM is important for the Art
Centre Manager.
Local government services previously
provided by the councils are now provided by a Shire, from its offices in Alice
Springs or Tennant Creek, with a Shire
Services Manager located in each community. This is another key relationship
for the Art Centre Manager.
The permit system across the NT is
administered by the Central Land Council,
based in Alice Springs or Northern Land
Council based in Darwin.
Funding for Art Centre
The Australian Government supports
many different cultural activities
throughout the country. All three levels
of government provide funding – federal,
state/territory and local. Desart staff
are happy to make suggestions about
where and when to apply for funding.
The Government’s support for the
development of arts and cultural
expression is offered through a number
of programs. The Australia Council for
the Arts, the Australian Government’s
arts funding and advisory body, provides
around $150 million each year to
artists and arts organisations around the
Funding Bodies – Information, Assistance and Support
country. Australia Council funding grants
are issued based on a system of peer
The Government, through programs
administered by the Office for the Arts,
provides grants for the support of arts
and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Australians throughout urban,
suburban and regional communities and
advocates recognition and protection of
their cultural and intellectual property. The
department enhances and strengthens
opportunities for Indigenous arts practice
through policy development, research
and program delivery. It also advises the
Government on broad national arts and
cultural policies.
TIP: OFTA Electronic submissions
(e-subs) for Art Centre funding open
around November and close during
February annually.
Funding Agencies
Funding agencies that support Art Centres
• Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) NT –
• Arts NT –
•Arts SA –
• Australia Council for the Arts – www.
• Community Benefit Fund (NT only) –
• Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) –
• Indigenous Small Business Fund (ISBF)
• Lotteries West (WA only) –
• WA Department of Culture and the Arts
Other Arts Funding
The most commonly accessed philanthropic organisations that support
Indigenous cultural projects are:
• The Myer Foundation –
• The Ian Potter Foundation – www.
• The Harold Mitchell Foundation –
• The Christensen Fund –
• CAL (Copyright Agency Ltd) Cultural
Fund –
Also, Artsupport Australia may provide
assistance with philanthropic
approaches –
Desart has the latest contacts and news
on funding and philanthropy – email
[email protected] with your queries.
unity Store
The never-ending variety of tinned
tuna and fish has supplied us with
never-ending meal options! Back in the
day, the last resort at the community
store usually involved a packet of Deb
mashed potato. Improvements to tinned
foods and dehydrated meals mean that
there are some great emergency meal
options when the shelves of the store are
empty, the delivery truck or barge didn’t
make it or the store has been closed due
to sorry business…
Don’t starve.
Keep up your vitamins.
Don’t get scurvy,
Donga Deligh
lm sugar
(made with pa
• 1 jar of sago
the asian groc
– can buy from
ees or mango
• 1 can of lych
nut cream
• 1 can of coco
mix all
conut cream,
Warm the co
gether, then
ingredients to
tt, Warakurna
Edwina Circui
Orange Cake in an Orange!
• 1 shake-and-bake cake mix
• 1 orange
Cut off the top of the orange and keep
this as a lid. Eat/scoop out the flesh
of the orange, but keep the peel as a
bowl (difficult to master!) Add water
to the shake-and-bake cake mix, then
pour this mixture into the orange
bowl. Replace the orange-peel lid,
wrap it all in foil and place in the fire.
Give it 12–15 minutes on hot coals –
and ‘ta-da’…orange cake!
Mell from Desart
sh B
• Grano
• Wate
red milk
• Powde
• Tinned
• Raisin
Good Ol’ Bush Store Salad
Fred Mil
• Tin of tuna
• Tin of chick peas/beans
• Tin of corn
• Splash of oil
• Seasoning
If you have access to boiling
water you
can do anything! Don’t be
ashamed to
mix instant pasta, rice and
noodles with
dehydrated foods and ser
ve it up to
your visitors.
Tim Acker– CRC REP Aborigin
al Art Economy Project
Hotel-Room Noodle Soup
You need: boiling water, a bowl and
something to cover the bowl.
• Jar of minced coriander (or fresh)
• Jar of minced ginger (or fresh)
• Dehydrated spinach (or fresh)
• 1 egg (if available)
• 2-minute noodles
• Soya sauce
Lightly beat an egg in the bowl. Throw in
some coriander, ginger and torn-up spinach.
Break up the noodles and add them, plus
some of the flavouring. Pour hottest boiling
water over the lot, give a decent stir to break
up the egg, cover and leave for 5 minutes.
Yum. Kellie Austin, ex-Manager Tiwi Art Network
Non-Fresh P
Note: parmes
an and rom
ano cheese
keep pretty
well and so
does salami.
• Jar minced
• Olives
• Jar pesto
• Sliced sala
• Parmesan/r
omano chee
• Easy pasta
, e.g., penne
Boil the pas
ta in a pot u
ntil cooked,
then add an
d heat-throu
gh the
remaining in
gredients. Th
e result is
not bad!
Patsy Wama
Things to Remember
Food and Drink
• Please eat! Keep your blood–sugar
levels up, stay healthy and take time to
rest throughout the day. Nobody wants
a hungry, cranky Art Centre Manager –
not the artists, not the workers, not the
buyers, nor you
• Stay hydrated – drink lots of water!
If you are thirsty you are already
• A small amount of salt is good if it has
been hot and you have lost body fluids;
try a sports drink such as Gatorade.
• Do not survive on weak plunger coffee
and Family Assorted biscuits
Survival Kit
In no particular order…
• The Directors of the Art Centre –
follow the leader
• Peers and colleagues in the community
and in nearby communities – meet Art
Centre Workers nearby halfway – have a
• Your friends and family – don’t burn
the midnight oil, go home and call a
friend. Just because you’re having a wild
bush adventure, don’t forget they have
lives too – remember to ask family and
friends how they are doing!
• A sense of humour
• Local bush medicine
• A good first-aid kit
• Pawpaw ointment
• Self-reflection and self-care: have a list
of five things that pick you up – don’t
think about it, just do them
• Eat well – don’t wait until 4pm for
lunch, everybody suffers from grumpy
hungry people
• Maintain perspective – don’t lose
yourself in the Art Centre or the
• The SAM database – it’s called an Arts
Management database for a reason!
• Go hunting – collect all the forms,
policies, procedures and paperwork you
• DVDs delivered – join the BigPond
movie club (new releases arriving in the
mail bag can be very exciting)
• Books – join the Alice Springs library
Be aware, not alarmed – every day will be
different. Often in communities you start
your day with an agenda, but anything
can and will happen: a death, an accident,
a visit from the Minister for Indigenous
Affairs, a tour group, a ceremony, a big
Land Council meeting – and it all goes out
the window.
Some Classic Dilemmas – Sound Familiar?
Nyarapayi Giles bringing home the
shopping at Tjukurla community
as –
Some Classic Dilemm
Sound Familiar?
Community Politics
and Drama
Keep out of it, no matter how juicy or
tempting! Whitefellas against whitefellas
– how boring! If it doesn’t affect the Art
Centre, keep out of it. Try rehearsing:
“That sounds very challenging.”
“Oh well, we don’t have those issues at
the Art Centre.”
People in the
Community Harassin
Artists to Buy Directly
In the Northern Territory, GBMs and other
Government employees are governed by
clauses in their contracts that instruct
them to support Aboriginal enterprise
and buy from Art Centres. To promote the
role of the Art Centre in the community:
• host Art Centre open days/nights
• organise artists’ talks
• invite guests and visitors
• hold a sausage sizzle
• plan a stocktake sale
• have a Xmas sale
Don’t just rely on rules and the big stick to
make people buy at the Art Centre, get their
support in other ways. For example, if you
have a visiting linguist, ask them if they
will give a talk on sign language at the Art
Centre – and host a community event.
Email Etiquette
(the ‘email bandit’)
Ask yourself, ‘Would a phone call be
quicker and clearer?’ The 2000-word
email – it’s ok to write it, just don’t send
it! Emails should be short, concise and
to the point – one or two paragraphs –
otherwise, consider a document on
letterhead as an attachment. Write every
email as though it will be broadcast on
Facebook or read out at the Desart AGM.
Conversely, it is not professional to
forward emails intended just for you,
especially if they were sent in confidence.
Emails sent at 3am or at 8am on Sunday
morning don’t send the message that you
are committed to your job, they send the
message that you are not coping.
and Diplomacy
Professional Conduct
l Art Centre Travel –
when on Internationa
ith Jet Lag!
how to be dazzling w
If you are lucky enough to have the
opportunity to travel overseas on Art
Centre business, here are some guidelines
for you:
• It will be hard work. Artists may
be homesick and worry for country
• Double-check all medication
requirements with the clinic
• Make sure that artists are comfortable
and happy – act as an intermediary
with journalists
• When travelling overseas you are
representing not just the Art Centre
and Community, but the Aboriginal art
industry as a whole. Do it with integrity
– international travel is a bonus of the
• Line up opportunities – talk to
Austrade: if you are in the Northern
Territory, talk to Wayne Fan at the Chief
Minister’s Department
• Make sure that the local Consulate
General or Embassy know you are
• Utilise social networking to line up
• Talk to Desart, we have networks of
galleries, journalists, academics and
friends overseas
Classic Scams
Art Centres are an easy target for
scamsters due to the high turnover in
staff. Some salespeople call through with
such authority and assure you that this is
the way it has always occurred, the way
that the last Manager did it, etc. – it isn’t!
Two classics are:
• Printer cartridges (overpriced)
• Government business Directory
listings (of no value and not
Government endorsed)
Recommanded Reading
In addition to links and references
throughout the Guidebook, following is
a smattering of books, journals, blogs
and resources to help you. Look in the
Art Centre for publications and important
works relating to the Art Centre, artists or
region. Always keep looking and learning!
About Art Centres
The Art and Craft Centre Story: a survey
of thirty-nine Aboriginal community art
and craft centres in remote Australia,
2000 (there should be a copy of this
three-volume set in the Art Centre –
if not, contact Desart).
Australian Art Collector Magazine –
Indigenous Art Centres Guide, biannual
publication; most recently published in
Painting Culture: The Making of an
Aboriginal High Art, Fred Myers, Duke
University Press, 2002. Outback: Art
Advisors Working between Two Worlds,
Chapter 5 ‘Burned Out’ – a must read for
all Art Centre Managers!
On Aboriginal Art
Aboriginal Art, Howard Morphy,
Phaidon, 1998.
Aboriginal Art, Wally Caruana, Thames
and Hudson, 2003.
Aboriginal art and culture: an American
eye, www.aboriginalartandculture. – a wonderful blog by
Will Owen visit regularly.
Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Susan
McCulloch, Allen and Unwin, 2001.
How Aborigines invented the idea of
Aboriginal art – writings on Aboriginal
contemporary art, edited and introduced by Ian McLean, Power Institute
of Fine Arts, 2009 – contains more than
100 essays: ‘Aboriginal art and the art
world’, ‘Becoming modern’, ‘Zones
of engagement’, ‘Issues’, ‘Futures’. A
fantastic resource!
No Ordinary place – the art of David
Malangi, by Susan Jenkins, Nigel
Lendon, Djon Mundine and Margie
West,National Gallery of Australia, 2004
The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art
and Culture, edited by Sylvia Kleinert
and Margo Neale, Oxford University
Press, 2001.
On the Cross-Cultural
Work Place
Cultural Orientation Handbook, Remote
Area Health Corps, RAHC, 2009. Download
this pdf and read it today!
Whitefella Culture by Susan Hargrave,
Summer Institute of Linguistics –
Australian Aborigines and Islanders
Branch, 1991. The stories in this book are
about an Aboriginal family and some
white people who live in the same
Aboriginal community. These are fictional
stories, but about real things that happen
to real people.
Adapting to Difference – Another Look
at Aboriginal Western Interactions, by
Margaret S. Bain, BookPal, 2011.
Aboriginal English in the Courts: A
Handbook, by Diana Eades, Queensland
Government – Department of Justice,
2000. A pdf document of this handbook is
available at
On Selling
How to Buy and Sell Art by Michael
Reid, Allen & Unwin, 2004.
The Art Market – various magazines and
online resources are available, access
the Desart library when you are in Alice
Other Resources
These should be in the Art Centre office –
if not, contact the appropriate agency and
order your copy:
Protocols for producing Indigenous
Australian visual arts, Australia Council
for the Arts, 2007
Arts Law Centre of Australia – Artists in
the Black –
Solid Arts, discs on Copyright, Moral
Rights, Indigenous Cultural and
Intellectual Property and Contracts; in
Ianguages Arrernte, English, Pitjantjara
and Tiwi; and website www.solidarts.
Rural Communities: Legacy and Change,
Cornelia and Jan Flora, Westview Press,
2007. Using Communtiy Capitals to Build
Assets for Positive Community Change.
M. S. Emery, S.Fey, C.B. Flora, 2006
Books and Blogs from Art
Ngaanyatjarra: Art of the Lands, edited
by Tim Acker and John Carty, UWA
Publishing, 2012. This book documents
the six Aboriginal-owned and run Art
Centres that make up the Western
Desert Mob of Aboriginal artists –
Warakurna, Papulankutja, Tjarlirli, Kayili,
Maruku and Tjanpi.
Thinking about Leaving? Time to move on.
Thinking about Leavin
Time to move on.
Here we are near the end of the book, what
is the last thing to do? Leave properly.
Find your way home again…
‘Know when to hold ’em, know when to
fold ’em, know when to walk away, know
when to run.’ Lyrics from the Gambler
Tjanpi Desert Weavers, edited by Penny
Watson, Macmillan, 2012.
Thriving in the desert, Warakurna Artists
– blogspot www.thrivinginthedesert.
Make use of the remote library for
magazines, books, journals, DVDs, etc. –
the Alice Springs Public Library provides a
service to residents of outlying areas who
are not able to make regular visits to Alice
Springs. To be eligible for this service you
must live more than 100km from Alice
Springs; live south of Barrow Creek; and/
or have your mail delivered via the Alice
Springs Post Office. This service is not
available to residents of an area serviced
by another local government library.
Phone (08) 8950 0512 and ask for the
Country Borrowers Officer.
Movies can be obtained by DVDs in the
mail, e.g., Bigpond PREMIUM Plan (two
to three DVDs per week for $19.95 per
month). Bigpond post the DVDs to you
with a ‘reply paid’ envelope – easy!
by Songwriters Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers
•You’ve lost your sense of humour
• You snap at people
• Tasks that used to take five minutes
take an hour
• You’re out of touch with close friends
• You’re always tired
Don’t wait around for one more project,
one more exhibition, one more mortgage
payment – when it’s time to go, it’s time
to go. It takes a long time to recruit and it
is expensive, so start working with your
Directors and Desart as soon as possible.
It doesn’t matter if it’s been one year, two
years or three, you know when it’s over:
1. Notify your directors
2. Talk to your bookkeeper about
budgeting for recruitment
3. Talk to Desart and enter into a Shared
Understanding about a Recruitment
document between the Directors and Desart
4. From the time you resign and a new
Manager starts, it could be 10–12 weeks:
four weeks’ advertising, phone interviews,
referee and police checks, face-to-face
interviews, selection, contracts, start date
and handover
5. You have worked hard, don’t leave badly.
AAB – Aboriginal Arts Board
Balance sheet
Barkly Artists Camp
Aboriginal Kinship
Aboriginal Language
Building and constructions
Built environment
Business plans
Altman, Prof Jon
Amusement, Events and
Recreation Award
Ananguku Arts and Culture
CAL – Copyright Agency Limited
Career development – artists
Certificate of authenticity
CLC – Central Land Council
Annual report
Arts development
19, 20
31, 46
20, 83
Coaching service
(the) Code
(see Indigenous Art Code)
Art Centres
6, 8–11
Art market
18–19, 73
Art supplies
Artists’ Resale Royalty Scheme
Commercial opportunities
Community capital
Community life
38, 107
Community-driven projects
Conflict of interest
Australia Council
Constitution (rule book)
Avoidance relationships
54, 62–63
Coombs, Dr H.C.
31, 45
Counselling service
Cross-cultural resources
31, 33
80, 82–83
Cultural Avoidance
Eltringham, Claire Cultural protocols
Email etiquette
Classic dilemmas
Classic scams
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
22, 76
76, 78
Exhibition contracts
71, 76
65, 69
Debt collection
Evans, Michelle
12, 18–19, 20–21
Desart Directors
False economy
Desert Mob
Desert Mob Exhibition
Desert Mob Symposium
Financial managment
Desert Mob Marketplace
Funding bodies
Digital photography
22, 71, 80
22, 28
Go hunting
Dugdale, Sue
Grants Management
Duty of care
63, 97
71, 73, 76, 78
69, 85
20, 81
Hewitt, Margaret and David
Human Resources
IACA – Indigenous Art Centre Alliance 20
ICC – Indigenous
Coordination Centre
ICS – Indigenous Cultural Support
Indigenous Art Code
Kupka, Karel
Land tenure
ICIP – Indigenous Cultural and
Intellectual Property
J, K, L
22, 69, 78
36–37, 38–39
M, N, O
Managing people
Marketing 75
Materials 46, 48
Industrial Award
Meeting tips
Informed consent
Ministers – government
Money story
Mundine, Djon
Myers, Fred
isee-ilearn resources
National Cultural Policy
IT – Information Technology
22, 99
IT – service and support
22, 99
IVAIS – Indigenous Visual
Arts Industry Support
21, 101, 103
NLC – Northern Land Council
OFTA – Office For The Arts
Q, R, S
Reid, Michael
Resale royalty
69, 79
Road conditions
98, 118
Rothwell, Nicholas
Rule book (constitution) (see Art Centre
Management Work Tools)
SAM – Stories, Art, Money
Service register
22, 68
46, 48
31, 54, 63
22, 62
31, 86
Social networking
Personal Property Securities Act
Sorry business
Survival kit
22, 28
Photography Prize
Poignant, Axel
T, U, V
Travel Advice
Policy and procedures
Umi Arts
Unscrupulous people 86
67, 68
31, 84, 85, 107
Vehicles 96–97, 118
26, 74
Professional conduct
W, X, Y, Z
Professional development
Watkins, Philip
Profit and loss
Project management
Yarrenyty-Arltere Learning Centre 59, 78
Protocols 36, 84
Young, Jane
22, 69
The Hewitts
I completed general nursing training in
Newcastle, midwifery in Adelaide and
infant welfare in Sydney between 1954
and 1960. My first work in an Aboriginal
community was at Point McLeay Reserve
at the Murray River mouth in South
Australia. One of the residents during my
time there was the writer and inventor,
David Uniapon, who is featured on the
$50 note.
In 1964, I transferred with the SA
Government to Amata in the Pitjantjatjara
lands and spent 3 years there, then
relieved for 9 months at Ernabella. Both
these communities were very happy
places for the Aboriginal people.
After Ernabella, I joined the Rural Health
section of Alice Springs Hospital. David
and I were married in 1969. We joined
the NT Administration Welfare Branch
and were sent to Areyonga Settlement.
A new community had been established
at Docker River and, 12 months later, in
August 1970 I was appointed as nurse
there. The clinic was a small shed and
a busy centre of community activity.
After 4 years in the beautiful Petermann
Ranges, David was offered a job with the
WA Housing Commission and we moved
to the Kimberleys.
Over the following 12 years we lived
in Looma, One Arm Point, Derby and
Bidyadanga, and I nursed at Bidyadanga
and Derby. We also spent 12 months at
Warburton Ranges with State Housing
Commission and our daughter was born
while we were working there.
For 11 years from 1986, we lived in Tumut
NSW for our daughter’s education, finally
returning to Central Australia in 1998. We
spent the following 13 years in remote
communities in the north west of SA, the
Ngaanyatjarra Lands and the Pilbara in
WA, and at Lake Nash on NT/Qld border.
I mainly worked as holiday relief for store
managers and community development
In 2011, we moved in to Alice Springs and
we are now involved in several community organisations, although David still
does some work out bush.
I completed a 5-year apprenticeship in the
electrical trade in Sydney, then spent 2
years working on the Snowy Mountains
Scheme in NSW.
In late 1964, I commenced at Amata community in South Australia working with
Pitjantjatjara men on building construction and maintenance and, after 3 years,
moved across to Ernabella. After marrying
Margaret, a nurse who had also been at
The Hewitts
Margaret and David Hewitt,
photo by Rhett Hammerton
Amata, we took up positions at Areyonga.
In 1970, we moved to a new community
at Docker River in the south-west of NT
where the men did some outstanding
building work in the establishment of
Docker River, and on the first store at
1975, I joined the WA Housing Commission
and spent the following 12 years on
Aboriginal community housing projects,
from Warburton in the Gibson Desert to
the Kimberleys.
We then took some time off from remote
communities while our daughter was
going through high school and university.
In 1998, we returned to Central Australia
and, for the following 13 years, relieved
community staff including store managers, maintenance staff and essential
services officers, while they were on
annual leave.
In 2011, we settled in Alice Springs but I
still do occasional bush work, particularly
electrical maintenance.
Outback Travel Advic
by the Hewitts
Have some understanding of the vehicle
you are driving before you leave town:
• Make sure you can engage four-wheel
drive if required
• Check the spare tyre and make sure it
is inflated
• Practice changing a tyre
• Know where the jack, jack handle and
wheel spanner are kept in the vehicle
secure everything that is heavy and likely
to be thrown around in a rollover –
especially if the vehicle does not have
a safety barrier behind the rear seat.
Let someone know where you are going
and the approximate time you expect to
arrive. Contact them when you get to
your destination to confirm your safe
arrival. Before departure discuss what
steps they should take if they do not hear
from you within an agreed time of your
estimated arrival.
Modern vehicles are usually very reliable
but, before leaving the community for a
long drive, ask someone who is familiar
with vehicles to check the oil and water.
Don’t depend on the fuel gauge to tell
you that the tank is full –fill the tank till
you see fuel at the top of the filler. Most
vehicles are diesel – do not make the
mistake of putting petrol in the tank, as
petrol can cause serious problems with
modern diesel motors.
Don’t assume that you can travel at the
same speed on gravel roads that you
would on the highway – reduce speed
by at least 30km/hour. Most accidents on
gravel roads occur on bends in the road
– slow down when approaching a bend,
but do not apply the brakes suddenly.
Always be on the lookout for cattle,
camels and kangaroos on the road.
Carry spare water in at least two containers, in case one leaks. If you do not need
it yourself, you may be able to help out
someone else on the road.
In the back of a station wagon or troopie,
Do not carry heavy weights on a roof
rack and do not load a roof rack too
high – this can raise the centre of gravity
and increase the possibility of a rollover.
If you do have a petrol vehicle, only fill
with Opal low-aromatic petrol before
leaving town. Standard or Premium
Unleaded fuel is prohibited in most communities because of petrol-sniffing issues.
If you are planning an off-road trip, perhaps for gathering bush tucker or visiting
traditional sites, do not be persuaded to
drive in areas where tyres can be staked
easily. Off-road travel should only be
done with two spare tyres. Also ensure
you carry a shovel and a block of wood to
place the jack on in sandy ground.
Outback Travel Advice by the Hewitts
Bogged troopy,
photo by Daniel Featherstone,
© Ngaanyatjarra Media
Safety in a Remote Co
by the Hewitts
Soon after arriving in the community,
make yourself known to other staff and
compile a list of local phone numbers in
case of emergency. Find out early on who
the Indigenous leaders are – they will be
able to help if necessary.
Some communities have recently
received mobile phone reception while
others use UHF Radio for local communication when away from a phone. If UHF
radio is used, carry a small pocket radio
when walking around the community.
A good place to meet people is at the
community store – not only adults, but
children too: try to relate them to their
families. If you are known around the
community, there is much more chance
of support in a time of difficulty.
Always keep a torch and spare batteries
in a handy position in the house, in case
of power failure. In some communities
power outages come fairly regularly.
Keep your vehicle locked and do not
leave items such as a mobile phone, CD
player or CDs in an obvious position in
the vehicle.
In the house do not leave vehicle keys,
knives or valuables where they can be
seen, either through a window or if you
invite someone into your house. Always
keep pressure-pack paint, glues and
WD40-type sprays in very secure places.
Access to these can encourage a return
to sniffing that was a serious problem
amongst young people in pre-Opal fuel
Visitors at home can be a good way
of getting to know Aboriginal people.
Although there is no hard rule, it is much
better to entertain visitors outside – on a
Safety in a Remote Community by the Hewitts
verandah or under a shady tree. Having
children inside can expose them to
opportunities for removing objects from
the house or for realising an opportunity
for breaking-in later.
If possible, do not be in a confined
room with one person of the opposite
sex, at least until you get to know the
community well. Female staff should
dress sensibly.
In your home, try to have a security
screen door that can be locked, so that if
someone knocks on your door, you can
open the main door and speak to them
We have never been a supporter of high
fences and locked gates to staff houses.
If someone wants to attract your attention they are then likely to throw rocks
on your roof. Sensible precautions on
Driving in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands
securing the house at night are usually
sufficient. Curtains on windows are
helpful so that you cannot be seen from
Walking around the community can be a
good way of getting to know people and
where they live. But beware of dogs and
carry a strong stick that can be used to
discourage them from approaching too
close. Try and not walk alone at night
and, if walking with a group, someone
should always have a torch – snakes can
be out at night.
Desart Chairperson Jane Young with
Thelma Dixon from Waralungku Arts,
Borroloola Likkapurte June 2011
Well done! You have made it to
the end of the book.
Now you know all about Art Centres.
If there is anything we should include in the next edition of this Guidebook,
please email [email protected]
Change your life
eser t .
Manage in the d
Version 2 – 2012
This guidebook is for Art Centre
Managers and Artworkers in Central
Australian Aboriginal Art Centres.
It is a guide to Desart services and
support, a book to help you work
well in Art Centres.
Central Australia is the birthplace of
the Aboriginal art movement. Artists
across Central Australia continue to
transform and revolutionise arts
and cultural expression. Art Centres
provide a gateway to share, exhibit
and explore Central Australian
Aboriginal art and craft.
Whether you’re an art lover with a
head for business or a business lover
with a head for art, here you are – at
an Art Centre in Alice Springs, Tennant
Creek or a remote Central Australian
Aboriginal community. How did you
get here? How long will you stay?
What will your legacy be?
To work at an Aboriginal Art Centre
is a privilege – an opportunity to
work with world-famous artists
and be part of art history, to live in
an Aboriginal community and be
taught about culture first-hand. It is
a tough, challenging job in a remote
area. You need to be flexible, resilient,
organised and smart. You must be fair
and respectful. Above all, you must
read this guidebook – each section
delivers key information for survival.
Whatever your reason for reading this
guidebook, when you have finished
you will have a range of perspectives
on this unique business – the remote
Aboriginal Art Centre.