Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Anna Bligh


Premier and Arts Minister Anna Bligh has declared he first Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) a huge success with more than 10,000, people flocking to the first-time event to see the work of Queensland Indigenous artists.

“When I opened this event I predicted Cairns would be the hottest art capital in the country and that everyone would be watching what we were doing with this first Art Fair – well they liked what they saw,” said the Premier.

“Collectors and buyers from across the world and Australia have attended the Art Fair and purchased work, along with thousands of people from Cairns and surrounding regions coming along and enjoying the program of music and dance.

“The art fair, presented by Arts Queensland, attracted more than 32 stall holders and work by 150 Queensland artists.

“It was inspiring to see established artists such as Judy Watson and Vernon Ah Kee showing work alongside those finding new and exciting ways to work in the art world, such as the Kuku Yalanji in Mossman Gorge or the Girringun weavers now working in ceramics.

“We set out to create a new model with CIAF, creating an exciting and inspiring event that would bring important economic benefits for Indigenous artists and those working in the sector, as well as the region’s cultural, tourism and hospitality sectors.

“Art Fair has succeeded in doing this with excellent attendance figures and sales well into six figures.

“I am delighted to say that just over $500,000 worth of art was sold at Art Fair with sales to local and interstate visitors as well as international buyers. Key works have also been reserved by two leading national art institutions.”

Art dealers who attended CIAF from across the country said the event bought sales and attendances beyond their expectations and many have made new customers internationally and in Far North Queensland.

“One of the important things is that we did not release any of the work we had at CIAF before opening night because we wanted genuine sales and we got them,” said Beverly Knight, director of Alcaston Gallery, and president of Australian Commercial Galleries Association.
“All of the sales were to people who visited the fair.”

The Premier said CIAF achieved its aims as part of the Queensland Government’s $10.73 million Backing Indigenous Arts program, a four-year program dedicated to strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts industry.

“Queensland is leading the way in finding new avenues to work with commercial dealers and Indigenous art centres as well as individual artists to create partnerships and forge a path forward to a more sustainable and equitable Indigenous arts industry,” Ms Bligh said.
“I look forward to seeing CIAF as a regular event on the national and international cultural calendar and Arts Queensland assures me that planning for the next art fair begins later this week.

“I congratulate CIAF Director Michael Snelling and our valuable partners in both the government and private sectors for delivering this wonderful event.”

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