Productivity Commission to investigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts and Crafts

The Morrison Government has requested the Productivity Commission undertake a study into the nature and structure of the markets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts and crafts, and policies to address deficiencies in these markets.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the study will provide valuable information as we build on our current investment to strengthen and safeguard this important creative industry.

“Australian Indigenous visual art is internationally acclaimed for its quality, innovation and cultural richness. Art is an important way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to tell stories, share and strengthen cultures, and drive economic opportunities,” Minister Fletcher said.

“That is why we’ve asked the Productivity Commission to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the value and structure of the current markets for First Nations visual art and crafts, which will propose possible policy and regulatory responses that will seek to support a professional, viable and ethical sector.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is a vital part of Australia’s identity, but is undermined by inauthentic material.

“We know that a significant and increasing proportion of products in the ‘style’ of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and crafts that are sold in Australia are imitations, which mislead consumers and provide no economic benefit to their communities,” Minister Wyatt said.

“These imitation products also cause offence and do not have any connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures, which is why this inquiry will enable us to maintain an equitable and authentic arts and crafts market.”

The Productivity Commission is asked to:

  • Examine the nature and structure of the different parts of the domestic and international markets including authentic and inauthentic products.
  • Identify deficiencies and barriers in the markets and how they affect artists and other stakeholders.
  • Assess costs, benefits, governance arrangements, risks, practicalities and implementation challenges of any policy responses.

The Productivity Commission is expected to consult broadly, particularly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations, and will hand down its final report by the end of 2022.

The study is part of the Government’s tabled response to the House of Representatives Report on the impact of inauthentic art and craft in the style of First Nations peoples.

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