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Record $4.33 million Art sold at Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

[by Jondayah Martin]

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Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, 2022. Image: Michael Jalaru Torres

The internationally renowned Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) has achieved a record $4.33 million in art sales, an increase of almost 30 per cent on 2021, whilst simultaneously providing a $12.5 million boost to the Northern Territory economy with the return of the physical event.


New data shows this year’s Fair was Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation's most successful, attracting more than 33,353 in person and online visitors from across Australia and the globe, with 100 per cent of revenue going back to Indigenous Art Centres and their communities.


Now approaching its 17th year, DAAF is Australia’s largest Indigenous visual art event, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to experience Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, design and culture, and to ethically source Indigenous artworks direct from Art Centres.


DAAF Foundation Executive Director, Claire Summers, said the achievement was the result of hosting a hybrid event for the first time, which included both a large-scale exhibition at the Darwin Convention Centre and the digital platform.


“Adapting the way we present and engage audiences at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair through a hybrid model has contributed significantly to this year's record-breaking sales, which were a 28 per cent increase on the previous record,” said Ms Summers.


“We hosted the past two Fairs online during Covid-19 and applied our key learnings from this experience to offer new opportunities and greater awareness for participating artists and Art Centres and audiences alike.


“Introducing a hybrid model also made it possible for us to present our largest line-up to date, with 77 participating Art Centres and over 1,800 First Nations artists. DAAF accommodated more than 17,000 visitors at the in-person exhibition, and a further 16,279 unique online visitors, from around Australia and across the globe.


“Returning to Darwin to hold the Fair alongside our public program and our two Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP) events, Country to Couture and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA), also reaffirmed the unique and continued social and economic value of coming together as a community.”


Ngukurr Art Centre Manager Jude Emmett said the Foundation’s hybrid model resulted in its best year yet, with sales doubling in value.


“By embracing the new digital and physical format, we had our best year in 10 years of attending DAAF,” said Mr Emmett.


“Showcasing our artists' works online has enabled us to tap into a larger network of people and grow our audience and client base, which was a benefit we first realised when the Fair moved online during Covid-19.


“After a two year break, it felt important for our team to attend DAAF physically too and reunite with industry members, collaborate with other creatives and present and witness works from established and rising First Nations talent.


“The Foundation’s new hybrid model has given new life to the Fair and we look forward to continuing to explore the new prospects it has created in future years.”

 

Over the past eight years (2015-2022), DAAF has generated more than $21.709 million for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art sector and become a prime way for Art Centres to build the profiles of new talent, as well as relaunching the careers of senior masters.


Northern Territory Government Minister for Major Events, Hon Paul Kirby said the pivot to a hybrid event had been a welcomed innovation.


“DAAF is a much-loved event and, seeing how it has evolved and developed over the last few years into both a physical and online offering, has been incredible.


“The Territory is known for its can-do attitude, and DAAF has shown plenty of this by adapting to external factors. The result has been an even bigger and better event that can continue to deliver for the Territory for years to come.”


Northern Territory Government Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Hon Chansey Paech said the event played a vital role in promoting and celebrating Indigenous artists.


“The success of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair is fantastic news for the hundreds of artists who participate, and for the Territory in general.


“The Fair is an opportunity to showcase works from across the Northern Territory and beyond, and connects established and emerging artists with art aficionados and buyers from across the country and the world.”


For some Indigenous community Art Centres, DAAF is a key annual sales strategy, and with 100 per cent of sales returning into communities, the Fair has become critical for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres and their artists in Australia.


The Foundation relies on donations to continue supporting its Art Centre members, helping Indigenous artists and remote communities to not only survive but to thrive.


The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation is also excited to officially announce that the 17th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair is returning to Darwin and online from 11-13 August 2023.

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