The 2019 Australian Infrastructure
Audit recognised that arts and cultural infrastructure plays a key role in the social and economic empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Audit notes that many of the current facilities are no longer ﬁt-for-purpose and suffer from poor maintenance.
Arts and cultural facilities support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists by creating more employment opportunities, supporting cultural practices, improving wellbeing, educating people on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and potentially improving national identity. These positive outcomes are aligned to many of the national socio-economic targets listed under the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap
Further, there is high demand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and
art in Australia from both domestic and international visitors. Currently, there are few dedicated art and cultural centres catering to this demand.
In addition to product promotion, showcasing Indigenous art through credible institutions reduces opportunities for the exploitation of Indigenous artists.
The opportunity is for a national program of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultural centres and galleries.
Many jurisdictions have taken steps towards developing these facilities:
- Infrastructure New South Wales recommended a ﬂagship Indigenous Cultural Centre in 2014 that would be a hub to connect to other facilities.
- A similar proposal was made for Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and an Aboriginal Art and Cultural Gallery/Centre in the Perth Metropolitan Area in Western Australia.
- The South Australian Government is including an Australian National Aboriginal Art and Cultural Gallery in its renewal of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site (now known as ‘Lot Fourteen’).
While there will be some competition between proposed facilities across multiple states and territories, there will be national beneﬁt to providing dedicated facilities for the exhibition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture.
Infrastructure Australia has received several submissions for individual art and cultural centres. This initiative calls for a coordinated program of art and cultural centres, which would ensure that facilities are sufficiently diverse to be complementary, encouraging visitation at multiple locations.
Proponent(s) to be identified.