60% of artists receiving payments from the Australian resale royalty scheme are Indigenous

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Thursday 29 March 2012.

The resale royalty scheme legislation was introduced in 2009 with the aim of benefiting all of Australia’s artists. Since the scheme commenced in June 2010, it has generated more than $550,000 in royalty payments for over 350 artists. Over 60% of these artists are Indigenous Australians and this newsletter will take a quick look at their reaction to the scheme.

So far just over 230 Indigenous artists have received a resale royalty payment and although it’s still in its early days, these artists are responding positively to the scheme.

Jane Young, Indigenous artist and Chairperson of DesArt, the Association of Central Australian Aboriginal Art & Craft Centres attended a Tangentyere artists information session and shared with us her observation of the scheme.

‘Some Aboriginal artists don’t have much money, and for some people in communities the money they make from their art is the only money they get, so this resale royalty is really good. It is really good that the money is coming back to the artist because they made the work. It’s their story that they are telling,’ said Jane.

A DesArt member art centre has had three of their artists receive a resale royalty payment. One of the artists ‘was immediately surprised and pleased’ said the art centre ‘but she wanted to know which painting sold where’. Copyright Agency is able to provide information about which of the artist’s works has been resold, but information about the buyer, seller or location of the sale is not published.

Michelle Culpitt, Assistant Executive Officer of DesArt, says that ‘All in all, the introduction of the resale royalty legislation was a great development for artists in general and especially those who are further economically disadvantaged, on the fringe or who have watched their work rapidly escalate in value without financial benefit.’

‘In our DesArt membership many artists are financially, economically and socially disadvantaged and contribute some of the most innovative and stunning artwork being created in Australia today – we hope that this resale royalty will go some way towards providing some recompense,’ says Michelle.

John Oster is CEO of Indigenous Art Code and a member of Copyright Agency’s artist advisory panel. The panel was set up to provide Copyright Agency with advise on practical ways to implement the scheme. John says that the resale royalty scheme has given Indigenous artists a new respect for their work in the marketplace.

‘In learning about the scheme, artists have been learning more about the art market in general and are now thinking more about what happens to their work once they have sold it. The scheme has helped to build the professionalism of Indigenous artists,’ says John.