In March 2008, the Federal Government announced that it would provide $51,000 towards the costs of employing a “training mentor” to work with artists in Kaltjiti. This 12-month funding commitment was part of broader efforts to provide Anangu with the skills and experience needed to take on the day-to-day management of their art centres. In some APY communities, these efforts were hampered by a critical shortage of staff accommodation.
The Paper Trail
Community-based art centres are some of the most successful and longest-running commercial enterprises on the APY Lands.[i] At Kaltjiti, Anangu artists have been producing works for sale since 1961.[ii]
On 7 March 2008, the Federal Minister for Arts (Hon Peter Garrett MP) committed $51,000 towards the costs of employing a “training mentor” for twelve months to work with artists at Kaltjiti Arts and Crafts.[iii]
The mentoring program aimed to help Kaltjiti artists gain skills and experience in art centre administration including: basic office management, cataloguing, and the despatching of artwork for exhibitions and gallery-based sales.
The mentoring program in Kaltjiti was part of broader efforts to help Anangu-controlled arts centres become bases “for job creation” and the delivery of “formal and experience-based training.”[iv]
To that end, in 2007, a three-year Indigenous Arts Worker training program started at Ernabella Arts (Pukatja). With philanthropic support from the Fischer Family Trust, the program ran for 35 weeks a year and provided mentored training to four Anangu women.[v]
Building on the success of the Ernabella Arts program, further mentoring programs were due to begin in the Amata and Iwantja art centres in May 2008.[vi] The establishment of these additional programs was driven by Ananguku Arts, in partnership with the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the South Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet.[vii]
These additional mentoring programs were expected to run for a two-year period. As part of the contractual arrangements, each of the participating art centres has agreed to establish one full-time or two half-time ongoing positions for Anangu by the end of the program (that is, by May 2010).[viii]
The impact of a lack of staff accommodation
Long-standing staff accommodation shortages across the APY Lands hampered the establishment of some of the mentoring programs.
In Amata and Iwantja, the two-year mentoring program was reliant on local art centre managers agreeing to accommodate the mentors in their own homes.[ix]
In Kaltjiti, as of April 2008, a lack of any vacant staff housing was making it impossible for the art centre to appoint a person to the newly-funded 12-month position and was preventing it from signing up for funding under the other two-year mentorship program.[x]
In 2008, Ananguku Arts completed an audit of art centre accommodation on the APY Lands. Based on the audit’s findings, the Ananguku Arts lobbied for the construction of additional housing “to meet the basic needs of art centres for staff and artist-in-residence and other training programs.”[xi]
The lack of staff accommodation in Anangu communities was not a new problem, nor is it unique to arts-based organizations. For example:
- in 2001, conflict over access to staff housing in Kaltjiti and Amata forced the NPY Women’s Council to relocate commonwealth-funded petrol sniffing programs to communities in the Northern Territory.[xii]
- from 2004 onwards, a lack of suitable staff housing has delayed the appointment of permanent sworn police officers to the APY Lands.[xiii]
In June 2004, a State Parliamentary Inquiry reported that:
a shortage of suitable accommodation for non-Anangu staff, as well as the management of existing housing stock, frequently impacts on the delivery of essential services and programs.[xiv]
Click here for more information on accommodation requirements for art centre staff.
This article was last updated in 2008. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue.
[i] The first art centre on the APY Lands was established at Ernabella in 1948. It is Australia’s oldest, continuously operating Aboriginal art centre. For more information visit: http://www.ernabellaarts.com.au/ (accessed 21 April 2008). See also: Williamson, I. & Koch, C. 25 February 2004, Transcript of evidence presented to the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia.
[iii] Garrett, P. 7 March 2008, “Special funding recognises the value of Indigenous arts organisations,” media release. The funding for the training program comes out of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts’ “Indigenous Visual Arts Special Initiative 2007-08.” In the same funding round, Kaltjiti also received a grant of $26,180 to upgrade some of the windows in its arts production building.
[v] Tregenza, E. 18 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls. Also: “Mentored training: Ernabella Arts” on the Ananguku Arts website: http://www.ananguku.com.au/ananguku_projects.html (accessed 21 April 2008).
[vi] The programs will be established at Tjala Arts (Amata) and Iwantja Arts and Crafts (Tregenza, E. 23 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls).
[vii] Tregenza, E. 18 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls; Tregenza, E. 23 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls.
[viii] Tregenza, E. 18 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls.
[ix] Tregenza, E. 18 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls.
[x] Peacock, B. 14 April 2008. Email to J. Nicholls
[xi] Tregenza, E. 18 April 2008, Email to J. Nicholls.
[xii] Parliament of South Australia, 2004, Report of the Select Committee on Pitjantjatjara Lands Rights, pp218, p53.
[xiii] See summary of Commissioner Mal Hyde’s comments in: Parliament of South Australia, 2005, Report of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee 2004/2005, pp235, p63. Also see: Alexander, P. 18 December 2006, Letter to J Valentin, p2. (Attached as Annexure 3 to Valentin, J. March 2007, An Independent Assessment of Policing in Remote Indigenous Communities for the Government of Australia, p3
[xiv] Parliament of South Australia, 2004, Report of the Select Committee on Pitjantjatjara Lands Rights, pp218, p53.