From Ashleigh Wilson at the Australian:
The aim [of the Australian Indigenous Art Commercial Code of Conduct] was to improve transparency in the market and improve conditions for artists. But industry figures say the draft code, released last month and described by the Australia Council as a “good starting point”, is unworkable in its present state.
“It will be a failure before it starts,” warns Sydney art market analyst Michael Reid, one of the figures involved in drawing up the code.
Australian Commercial Galleries Association president Beverly Knight played a central role in bringing the code to life, but says she will not recommend her members sign up to the code in its present form. She says she hopes to be able to support a revised version. “There’s still a long way to go,” Knight says. “It’s probably too bureaucratic at the moment.”
Developed by the Australia Council, the Australian Indigenous Art Commercial Code of Conduct “aims to promote fair trade and practice in the industry which will contribute to the wellbeing of indigenous Australians more generally”. It does not seek to deal with behaviour that is already illegal under existing law.
Signatories to the code who breach any of its rules will, if their behaviour continues, be named in public and removed from the code register.
The code prohibits unconscionable dealings with artists, details some of the requirements for transactions between artists and dealers, and discusses issues relating to provenance, record-keeping and payment. However, serious concerns have been raised about two points in particular. The code leaves open the possibility that it could endorse the practice of dealers paying artists with second-hand vehicles. And public institutions, including state-owned art galleries, are exempt from the code.
Reid, who was a member of the reference group assisting the Australia Council with the code, says the second issue is a “huge sticking point”.