Registration is now open for art dealers, agents, galleries and arts centres to register their interest in becoming signatories to the Indigenous Australian Art Commercial Code of Conduct.
Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, congratulated the Code Administration Committee on their efforts to date, and said: The Code will, for the first time, provide a national set of standards for transactions between agents, artists and dealers in the Indigenous visual arts industry. The Code will ultimately help Indigenous artists negotiate fair deals for their work and give buyers greater certainty of an artwork’s origin and the way in which it was purchased. I encourage anyone interested in registering to go to the Code website.

The recently formed Code Administration Committee is a voluntary, independent industry body which will administer the Code, maintain an on-line register of signatories, deal with complaints against signatories and promote the benefits of the Code to the broader industry.

The structure of the Committee is:
4 members who are signatories to the Code appointed in consultation with the Industry Alliance Group. In future, the four signatory positions will be filled through a vote of all Code signatories.
3 Indigenous artists who are appointed by the Committee.
2 Artists resource organisation representatives who are appointed by the Committee.
2 non-arts representatives with legal and/or business and/or art consumer knowledge who are appointed by the Committee.

The inaugural Committee will have the critical task of setting up the processes and protocols to regulate the code. And the following people have accepted the invitation to sit on the inaugural Committee.
Signatory positions
Cecilia Alfonso, Manager, Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation
Beverley Knight, Director, Alcaston Gallery
Martin Wardrop, Director, Aboriginal Art Online
Ian Plunkett, Director, Japingka Gallery
Appointed Positions
Indigenous Artists
Julie Gough
Terry Murray
Alick Tipoti
Artists Resource Organisations
John Oster, CEO, DESART
Elizabeth Tregenza, general manager, Ananguku Arts
Non-arts independent expertise
Ron Merkel, QC (Committee Chair)
Richard England, Director, Healthscope Limited. (Committee Deputy Chair)

The Government strongly supports the Code and is providing $600,000 over three years to assist with implementation, Mr Garrett said. Garrett’s Department will also provide limited Secretariat services.

Implementation of a Code of Conduct was a key recommendation of a 2007 Senate Inquiry report into the Indigenous visual arts and craft sector, and was part of the Rudd Government’s election platform. The Code was developed in consultation with the sector and has received its widespread support.

The key area left out of the Code is the collecting institutions “ public galleries and museums “ across Australia. A Charter has been worked out to cover their dealings in indigenous art. The Charter aims to affirm the minimum ethical standards and best practice principles that Australia’s public collecting institutions follow when acquiring, displaying and deaccessioning Indigenous works of art. The affirmation of these high ethical standards by the public collecting institutions that adopt the Charter will help to spread best practice across the collections and Indigenous visual arts sectors.