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, improving wellbeing, educating people on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and potentially improving national identity.
Further, there is high demand for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and art in Australia from both domestic and international visitors. Currently, there are few dedicated art and cultural centres catering to this demand.
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.
The program requires a coordinated response to ensure that facilities are sufficiently diverse to be complementary, encouraging visitation at multiple locations.
Proponent(s) to be identified.