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Indigenous Law Bulletin

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Joseph, Samantha --- "Artists in the Black" [2006] IndigLawB 17; (2006) 6(18) Indigenous Law Bulletin 2

Artists in the Black

by Samantha Joseph

What is Artists in the Black?

Artists in the Black is the Indigenous service of the Arts Law Centre of Australia (‘Arts Law’). Arts Law is a national community legal centre for the arts providing legal assistance to artists and arts organisations on arts related matters.

In 2003, the Australia Council for the Arts provided Arts Law with funding to trial an Indigenous service. The aim of the service was to increase access to advice and information about the legal rights of Indigenous artists and organisations. The service operated as a pilot program between 2004 and 2005. The service has been operating as a regular Arts Law service since the beginning of 2006.

The service has two Indigenous staff, lawyer Samantha Joseph and information/liaison officer Blanch Lake, who provide services tailored to the Indigenous community. Artists in the Black offers assistance to Indigenous artists, communities and arts organisations. The aims of the service are to:

The service provides:

The name Artists in the Black implies the self empowerment of Indigenous artists in relation to their financial, legal and educational rights. The service aims to encourage this and assist Indigenous artists in overcoming injustices that many have faced in the art market.

Artists in the Black has developed a pack consisting of information about Arts Law and Artists in the Black, and a range of information sheets addressing copyright, moral rights, ICIP, contracts, licensing (of artwork), certificates of authenticity, governance and business structures. In 2005, Arts Law launched a set of four Artists in the Black comics developed with Streetwize Communications covering arts law issues (copyright, moral rights, ICIP and contracts). The comics have been successful and have been distributed to many communities, arts organisations and government departments including correctional centres.

Artists in the Black is committed to ensuring the preservation of Indigenous artists’ rights. Artists in the Black has advocated on behalf of Indigenous artists in relation to the introduction of a resale royalty scheme (which would offer artists a percentage of the resale price of their work) and ICMRs that recognise the communities’ involvement in the creation of works. Artists in the Black is committed to empowering artists to ensure their rights are upheld. We are advocating for specific legislation that protects ICIP. Currently there is no legislation that offers adequate protection.

Artists in the Black has held educational seminars in every state and territory in Australia. Approximately 1500 Indigenous people have attended these workshops to date. Also, Artists in the Black has presented at a number of conferences.

Artists in the Black is supported by an Indigenous Reference Group. The reference group members contribute their expertise, advice and feedback to the Artists in the Black staff and provide information regarding issues of concern in regions where they live. The reference group meets approximately four times per year. The reference group currently consists of:

Artists in the Black has established working relationships with arts organisations including Viscopy (the collecting society for the visual arts); ANKAAA (Arnhem, Northern Kimberley Aboriginal Arts Association – an advocacy service representing Indigenous arts centres); UMI Arts (an arts umbrella organisation advocating and representing the interests of Indigenous art centres and artists in North Queensland); FATSIL (Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Languages - the peak Indigenous language body in Australia) and other non-government and government departments involved in the arts.

The National Indigenous Consumer Strategy listed Artists in the Black as a best practice model in the field of arts/industry. The strategy is a five year action plan aiming to educate Indigenous consumers of their rights and obligations and people who trade in Indigenous markets.

If you require further information about Artists in the Black please contact Blanch Lake at <> or by phone: 02 9356 2566.

Samantha Joseph is a solicitor at the Arts Law Centre of Australia.

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