The art world knows it has a problem. While indigenous artists are showered with fame and money, there is little participation by indigenous people in the managerial side of the arts.

The director of the National Gallery of Australia, Ron Radford, says there are only 16 indigenous people working in public institutions as curators, conservators, educators or in administrative roles. He doesn’t know any in the private sector.

Which is why he announced the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship on Wednesday. The two-tier program will provide short internships for indigenous people at the beginning of their arts management careers, and two two-year fellowships, valued at $50,000 each, for those further along the career path.

The announcement was welcomed by Carly Lane, 36, curator of the National Indigenous Art Triennial 2011. She was informally mentored by Djon Mundine, who is now a curator at the Campbelltown Arts Centre.

Lane says indigenous curators bring specialist knowledge to indigenous art, and can improve the public’s understanding of it.

”You don’t have to be indigenous to be a curator of indigenous art, but there’s an element of being indigenous and working in indigenous art that is unique,” she says.



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