Supporting Aboriginal arts

Why is this important?

Councils are often the most prominent supporter of local arts and culture. Increasingly more councils are playing an important role in sustaining and promoting Aboriginal arts.

Supporting Aboriginal artists nurtures their creativity, develops skills, builds their profile and can deliver financial returns for the artist.


What can your council do?

Councils can support Aboriginal art and culture in a number of ways. These can include:

  • Commissioning Aboriginal artworks for public and council spaces or for the design of council publications
  • Curating Aboriginal art exhibitions in local galleries
  • Commissioning Aboriginal performances in festivals and events, such as Aboriginal music, dance, comedy, theatre
  • Supporting Aboriginal writers to present at forums such as literary festivals
  • Support Aboriginal community arts projects or workshops
  • Including Aboriginal artists in artist and business networks
  • Supporting local artists through grants, sponsoring exhibitions or joint projects


Councils can support Aboriginal culture in a number of ways. These can include:

  • Ensuring Aboriginal community participation on council arts and culture committees
  • Publicising Aboriginal arts and culture programs.


Sixty of the 77 Councils that responded to the 2012 Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Engagement and Reconciliation Survey reported that they provided varying degrees of support to local Aboriginal artists.


Case Studies

Darebin City Council supported the establishment of the Koorie Night Market, a key initiative of the former Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Council. Darebin also supported ArtsDECL incubators, which works with the Aboriginal community both locally and in other regions in Australia.

Baw Baw Shire Council showcases Aboriginal theatre and literary events at the West Gippsland Art Centre (WGAC) and ensures attendance at major Aboriginal performing arts through subsidised ticketing and welcoming activities.

Whittlesea City Council sponsored an Indigenous Awareness Week that included hosting an Art Exhibition by local Aboriginal artists, a musical performance of Aboriginal artists and a family day of boomerang throwing, dancing and storytelling at Nioka Bush camp as a way of connecting Aboriginal families moving into the area. In March 2012 council supported the production of a film of local young people telling/retelling a traditional Wurundjeri creation story for the area. It was shown to an audience of 10,000 at the community festival.

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