GARMA Key Forum to probe Intervention’s economic impact 

Bunggul dancers at Garma 2008. Image courtesy of Yothu Yindi Foundation / Garma Festival. Photographer Wayne Quilliam.  

Ensuring the sustainability of the lucrative Indigenous visual arts sector will come under the spotlight during the GARMA 2009 Key Forum.

During the past 10 years, the sector has achieved extraordinary success in terms of its importance to Indigenous Australia and the multi-million-dollar industry it has become.

Adjunct Professorial Fellow at Charles Darwin University’s School for Environmental Research and Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research at the Australian National University, Professor Jon Altman will address the topic during the Key Forum.

Set to speak on the topic, Managing creative industries in a changing environment, Professor Altman will also explore how the NT intervention has impacted on Indigenous creativity in the Territory.

“As with many sectors of the Australian economy, in the decade to 2008, the Aboriginal visual art sector in the NT experienced robust growth,” he said.

Professor Altman said his presentation would assess the impact of three major events on the sector: the outcomes of a Senate inquiry released in June 2007, the NT Emergency Intervention of the same month, and the global financial crisis in late 2008.

“Through discussions with a selection of art centres, commercial galleries and arts regional organisations, the research seeks to assess both the impacts of these key events and the vulnerability of the sector both to global economic conditions and to institutional changes like the abolition of CDEP and changed outstation policy currently underway,” he said.

“While it is recognised that no commercial sector can be fully insulated from state and market changes, this presentation seeks to make some recommendations to ensure the sustainability of this sector that is so important to Indigenous participants for economic, cultural and social reasons but also more broadly to the NT and Australia.”

The theme of the GARMA 2009 Key Forum is Indigenous Creative Industries: Opportunities, Culture and Knowledge.

Indigenous Creative Industries: Opportunities, Culture and Knowledge will include important and practical discussions about issues surrounding cultural outputs and commercial opportunities afforded Indigenous Australians.

The three-day Key Forum, coordinated by CDU, will run from Saturday August 8 at the GARMA Festival in East Arnhem Land.