Desert perspectives – Aboriginal arts workers in remote art centres

Aboriginal people (Australia) Torres Strait Islander people Artists First Peoples art Rural and remote communities Australia
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Arts worker employment is highly valued by employees: Personally, professionally and socially, all arts workers rated their employment highly. A wide range of professional, personal, social and cultural benefits are generated for arts workers: Tangible and intangible benefits were created. Tangible benefits included financial independence, making better health choices and gaining skills and adding capacity to the art centre. Intangible benefits included increased confidence and self-esteem, cultural knowledge and family support. Attitudes to work are characterised by high levels of confidence: Arts workers rated their work attitude and quality very highly and reported few difficulties or doubts. A number of arts workers stated their interest in growing their work responsibilities and moving into more senior roles. Arts workers saw few alternative employment options: Arts workers saw their future employment closely tied to the art centre, with few looking beyond their current employment. Relocation for work was not viable: There was almost unanimous response that employment needs to be local. Career path: One third of arts workers were interested in developing a career from their work and becoming an art centre manager. Significant numbers of arts workers continue to make art: Over 40% of arts workers report artmaking as their primary task, although employment program funding guidelines state arts workers cannot be employed for the purpose of creating artworks. Tenure: While there is turnover of staff who are employed for less than 12 months, those arts workers who stayed for more than a year remained in the job. Working hours: Nearly three-quarters of all arts workers were part-time employees. One-fifth of arts workers worked full time. Ambition: Almost one-third of arts workers want to advance their careers and become art centre managers. Almost half of arts workers wanted to access further training and skills.

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