Excitement last weekend when ‘The Australian’ newspaper carried a quarter-page ad for a ‘Senior Director, National Aboriginal Art Gallery’. Sadly, this call for a visionary leader capable of delivering a $180 million arts and culture precinct turns out to be for the Alice Springs art gallery that has no site yet, has no agreement with local Aboriginal Traditional Owners, and is a project of a Territory Government with mighty financial problems.

An accompanying film brightly backgrounds the Gallery, includes artistic projections of how it might look, and insists that the Gallery will be lead by Aboriginal experts, fibbing only so slightly by claiming that the ANZAC Oval site has the support of many Aboriginal custodians. Just not the ones responsible for it!

Will the ‘Senior Director’ on $254,729 a year be one of those Aboriginal experts, I ponder?

And would a local Arrernte Aboriginal expert have surmounted the advert with the image of what looks suspiciously like a Yolngu man proudly blowing a yiddaki?

Applications close December 6th. What’s the rush, I wonder?

It’s all so different from comparable efforts over in Adelaide. There, an Ambassador for the currently-named Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre has been appointed “ the Indigenous David Rathman “ and a public servant, Di Dixon, is the project leader for the site called Lot 14. This turns out to be: a) available since the Royal Adelaide Hospital there was replaced; and, b) well accepted by local Kaurna people since, for more than 50,000 years the land was a place for camping and ceremony for them, situated strategically between the banks of Karrawirra Parri (River Torrens) and the waterholes of Kainka Wirra (Adelaide Botanic Garden). The areas around Lot 14 continued to provide refuge for the Kaurna and were a place to practice culture for many years after the arrival of British colonists.

It’s been announced that the museum will have a Kaurna name (like the new WA Museum’s Nyoongar ‘Boola Bardip‘), and the design process will take place in consultation with Aboriginal people (and other key stakeholders) over approximately 9 months next year once a final business case has been delivered. The only job currently on offer is for an Indigenous consultant to deliver an Aboriginal economic participation strategy from the start of the project. Construction will then take about three years, aiming to open the centre in 2025.

To grease the process, the SA State budget last week put a further $50 million into the pot, bringing the total to $200 million, $85 million of which is Federal Government funding under the Adelaide City Deal.

It all makes so much more sense, doesn’t it?

And you can get a feel of Lot 14’s Indigeneity next weekend when the Tarnanthi Art Fair with works from 49 remote art centres will definitely go ahead under canvas on the site.