People who care about how Aboriginal art is ‘brought to market’ have only until Friday 20th March to respond to the Australia Council’s draft Code of Conduct for the industry.
The place to go to examine their proposals “ which were published on 18th December after the nation’s arts ministers had largely thrown out of the window the two and a half years of industry-wide consultation carried out by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) “ is:
The site has a place for your comments, but it doesn’t allow you to read others’ submissions “ as the Senate enquiry into the Aboriginal Art industry (which called for a Code to be brought into being) did.
Areas to consider are whether the definitions of the three main player categories in the industry identified by the Code “ artists, agents and dealers “ are actually clear enough to be workable (indigenous art centres, for instance are defined as both ‘artists’ and ‘agents’ at different stages); whether the bureaucracy involved in communicating between ‘dealer’ and ‘artist’ about progress in the sale of an artwork and the use of an art centre’s Certificate of Authenticity will tie the industry up in knots; whether it is proper to use the Code as a way of controlling access to secret/sacred material, using such vague terms as current traditional owners; whether there is enough emphasis placed on the end-use customers being educated about the Code and told of their rights to both full information and remedy by the dealer selling an artwork; and whether public art institutions should be part of the Code or not “ currently they’re excluded.
It is also a matter of conjecture as to whether a Desert artist needing to sell art in Alice Springs will be in any different position after the Code than s/he was before it without the establishment of a dedicated painting centre there to negotiate with a marketplace that may or may not be a signatory to the Code on his or her behalf.