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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN – A WIN FOR INDIGENOUS ARTISTS

The Australia Council for the Arts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts board today announced a $300,000 three-year strategy to protect and promote Indigenous cultural and intellectual property.

The strategy, entitled ‘The Other Side of the Coin’, will promote advocacy within the arts sector, the development of consumer information, and provide educational resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to help them better understand their rights and the arts marketplace.

Year one of the strategy – 2006 – will be used to focus on talking with Indigenous artists about the challenges they face with cultural and intellectual property matters. The response to these consultations, to be delivered over the ensuing two years, will include the development of intellectual property toolkits, consumer awareness materials, legal assistance for Indigenous artists, sector advocacy, and cultural procedures and protocols.

Dr Chris Sarra, chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts board said The Other Side of the Coin was grounded in the belief that Indigenous artists’ rights should be respected, promoted, and protected.

‘The Other Side of the Coin aims to build significant government and industry partnerships to ensure that all stakeholders are informed of the situations of Indigenous artists and the “best practice” possibilities that can be developed within the three-year strategy.

‘It will also deliver educational resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to assist them in understanding their rights,’ Dr Sarra added.

‘The strategy is focused primarily on improving the social, cultural and economic positions of Aboriginal artists and their communities.

‘Intellectual property rights are integral to the health and sustainability of Indigenous arts and culture. Ensuring these rights are protected will foster cultural vitality and improve the economic viability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait artists and art centres.

‘Ultimately, The Other Side of the Coin will ensure Indigenous artists have greater control over their artwork–that they share in the income their work generates,’ Dr Sarra said.

The Other Side of the Coin is one of 14 strategic initiatives, worth a total of $6.6 million, which the Australia Council has developed to address issues facing the arts and artists in Australia today.

Australia Council for the Arts CEO Jennifer Bott said: ‘The Other Side of the Coin is an outstanding example of our new “arts catalyst” strategy in action – a focus on the big picture and making a strong contribution to the wellbeing of the Australia arts community’.

The Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts division will manage development and implementation of The Other Side of the Coin program.

Editor’s note: The Australia Council for the Arts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts board, whose members include some of Australia’s leading Indigenous artists and artsworkers, is the leading authority for government on issues relating to Indigenous arts.

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