THREE years after a Senate committee recommended sweeping changes to end the exploitation of indigenous artists and ensure fair play in the industry, a voluntary code of conduct is finally running.
The board of Indigenous Art Code Limited, the company that supervises and regulates the code, was formally constituted at its annual meeting this week, and the code’s promotional centrepiece – a bold black-and-ochre logo (below) – was launched on Monday.
But IAC chairman and former Federal Court judge Ron Merkel, QC, told The Age, the real work starts now educating art dealers and gallery owners, art co-operatives in indigenous communities, and the artists themselves about the importance of signing up to the code.
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The IAC has secured charitable status, so donations are tax deductible, and it is on the verge of joining the register of cultural organisations.
So far, 28 dealers, one artist, and four support members have volunteered to abide by the code, a number that has been criticised by some participants in the $500 million industry as embarrassingly low.
But Mr Merkel believes more will join once dealers realise the potential commercial benefits and goodwill that flows, especially in the international market, from following ethical best practices