Words: Erin Irwin
It has been announced that Australia’s largest Indigenous visual art event, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF), has hit a new milestone of $4.33 million in art sales.
Returning this year as a hybrid event with both a physical fair and an online presence, DAAF saw an increase of almost 30 per cent in sales from 2021. With all revenue going to Indigenous Art Centres and local communities, this success has also supplied a $12.5 million boost to the Northern Territory economy.
DAAF Foundation Executive Director Claire Summers attributes this achievement to the flexibility of the fair’s new model, which has responded to changes in the way collectors have engaged with art over the last few years due to the pandemic.
“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” says Summers, stating the fair “reaffirmed the unique and continued social and economic value of coming together as a community”.
1,800 First Nations artists from 77 Art Centres participated this year, with the fair also hosting a public program and two Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP) events, Country to Couture and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA). More than 17,000 visitors attended in person, and 16,279 participated online.
Ngukurr Art Centre Manager Jude Emmett said that “by embracing the new digital format, we had our best year in 10 years attending DAAF”.
Emmett sees an effective digital platform as impactful, stating that “showcasing our artists’ work online has enabled us to tap into a larger network of people and grow our audience and client base”. The return of a physical fair is however equally as important: “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”.
Hon Paul Kirby, Northern Territory Government Minister for Major Events, also lauded the new format.
“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”.
The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair will return for its 17th edition in Darwin and online from 11-13 August 2023.
This article was posted 26 November 2022.
Image: Ikuntji Artists’ booth, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, 2022. Photo: Michael Jalaru Torres.