The author has witnessed this growth in the community-led art centre she manages at Haasts Bluff/Ikuntji. In the rest of the article, “art centre” will refer to a remote Indigenous art centre.
In 1991, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (AustLII 1991
) already highlighted Indigenous tourism as one of the main industries for employment for Indigenous people. This was followed by the 2003 White Paper, “A Medium to Long Term Strategy for Tourism” (DITR 2004
), which emphasised the importance of the Indigenous tourism sector to be developed see (Buultjens and White 2008
Examples for this are Injalak Arts in Gunbalanya or Maruku Arts at Uluru.
This was part of an extensive research project through Ninti One Limited, with Damien Jacobsen being the lead researcher (Jacobsen 2014a
Art centres in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in particular are closed to visitors and tourism and do not want to expand into that sector.
Personal communication with Gloria Morales in 2014.
Personal communications with former volunteers at Warlukurlangu Artists in 2014–16.
Personal communication with Cecilia Alfonso in 2018.
) gives an insight into the program of previous years.
The festival saw a record number of visitors in 2019. Most nights visitors had to queue to access the grounds and the festival was spread over two locations: the Alice Springs Desert Park and the Todd Mall (NT Major Events 2019
; Chlanda 2019
A strategy to develop the participation of Aboriginal people and businesses is currently being developed by the Northern Territory Government in consultation with the Aboriginal Tourism Advisory Council. The NT Tourism Strategy 2030, which the NT Aboriginal Tourism Strategy will be part of, will be launched in October 2019.
Most recently, another $67 million was earmarked for the further development of tourism, including the Arts Trails in the Northern Territory.
New mountain bike paths were constructed across Alice Springs, and a plan to develop the Larapinta Trail for mountain biking is a part of the strategy (Chlanda 2018
Arts Trails are such a crucial part of the Northern Territory government policy that a minister for Arts Trails was put in place, and that portfolio is held by someone other than the Minister for Tourism and Culture.
Many art centres have received significant funding for infrastructure improvements over the past two years in order to develop them as stops on the Arts Trail.
Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, and Katherine fall into the main arteries of the Arts Trails, thus receiving specified funding to develop cultural centres further and build a National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs. Remote art centres are in some cases being linked to the main art trails; for example, Injalak Arts is linked to Kakadu National Park and Hermannsburg Historic Precinct has been identified as a major cultural destination.
For example, Karrnte Camp near Watarrka National Park, bush tucker tours at Oak Valley and at the Alice Springs Desert Park.
Only a total of 144 Aboriginal tourism businesses exist in all of the Northern Territory. The role of Aboriginal engagement and employment in the tourism industry is a great factor of the NT Aboriginal Tourism Strategy. It looks at expanding it and addressing the mentioned supply and demand discrepancies.
Desart Inc is the peak body for Indigenous art centres in Central Australia, including Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.
These art centres understand themselves as the Aboriginal Art Precinct.
“On country” refers to workshops being held on the country of the workshop holders, such as the workshops at Haasts Bluff being held outside of the community but within the boundaries of the land trust, thus on the ancestral country of the artists.
The West MacDonnell Ranges have seen a major development plan for tourism, which focuses in particular on natural sites and lacks engagement with Indigenous art centres as possible cultural destinations.
This figure only takes into account people who are registered job seekers and not anyone else who works part-time or casually, who may therefore count as underemployed. The figure was supplied by the Community Development Program.
The primary school opened its grounds and made them accessible as a camp ground over the weekend, including the bathroom facilities. By doing this, visitors were camping in the middle of the community and had the opportunity to stay on after the concert at night.
The Barunga Festival, Mowanjun Arts Festival or Garma Festival are just a few of these. Desert Mob could be counted as an Indigenous festival in Alice Springs; however, it is not focused on one community or organised by one but by the peak body Desart Inc.
Anonymous reply from Ikuntji Artists Festival Survey 2014.
Personal communication with Macdonnell Regional Council staff after the festival in 2014.
Experiential learning is often highlighted as a traditional form of learning for Indigenous Australians. The teaching of the dance was entirely conveyed by experiencing it.
Anonymous comment on Ikuntji Artists’ Festival survey 2014.
This was funded by the Northern Territory Government under the Immediate Works Grant Scheme, and the fitting of the building was funded by the Aboriginal Business Development Scheme of the Department of Business, Northern Territory Government.
In Central Australia, no other art centre has comparable visitor facilities. It is a point of difference and an investment by the community into the sustainability and future of the art centre. The lack of visitor accommodation is a barrier to having more cultural tourism for many communities.
Most employment at Haasts Bluff is through the service providers located in the community rather than through businesses. This means that very few opportunities are created outside of this closed economy. As Morphy argues, art centres are often pivotal for economic development in remote Indigenous communities (Morphy 2005