Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair's 2023 event achieved a record $4.4 million in art and design sales, it has been announced.
Marking the event's 17th time returning to Darwin, the 2023 art fair, presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) Foundation, injected $12 million into the Northern Territory economy whilst operating as a hybrid in-person and online event during August.
Having hosted 78 Art Centres that collectively represented 1,600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives, DAAF ensured that 100 per cent of revenue returned directly to both the participating Art Centres and their local communities.
Located in the heart of the Ramingining community in Central Arnhem Land, Bula'Bula Art Centre was one of the Fair's 78 participating Art Centres.
Despite travelling 400 kilometres by troopy to Darwin for the event, the team at Bula'Bula Art Centre were thrilled to be a part of this years event.
Bula'Bula Art Centre artist Andrew Wanamalil was a first time art fair attendee.
The proud Ganalbingu man said the art fair was a proud and unforgettable experience.
"Attending DAAF for the first time made me feel so proud of myself and my community," Mr Wanamalil said.
"I was so excited to share my art with people from all over Australia and to see my work on display among the industry's best and brightest. I can't wait to return next year and bring my family with me."
Bula'Bula Art Centre Manager, Mel George was also delighted to be involved in this year's event, saying it is events like DAAF that strive to celebrate Indigenous culture and keep it alive.
"When you're at DAAF, you suddenly see the big community and the movement that you're a part of - is it uniquely Australian. Each Art Centre is like a spark, and at DAAF when we're all together, there are all these sparks of magic going off to create fireworks of colour, art, culture and more," Ms George said.
"It's an unparalleled experience for Art Centres and Fair visitors, and this year was no exception.
"The event is also important for our Art Centre as it's an income source for the community, and one that is culturally appropriate.
"One of the most important roles that Art Centres play is giving people who are strong in cultural education the tools to economically support themselves and communities, which is why events like DAAF are needed to assist them in working on Country and keeping culture alive."
Having earned a global reputation for providing attendees with the rare opportunity to immerse themselves in authentic First Nations art, design and culture, and to ethically purchase artworks from Art Centres, this year's event drew 15,874 visitors in person, and 13,157 online.
Over the past nine years alone (2015-2023), DAAF has generated more than $26.109 million for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art sector.
"We are proud to not only celebrate a record $4.4 million in sales for DAAF but also to acknowledge the immeasurable opportunities the fair has provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives for the past 17 years," DAAF Foundation executive director, Claire Summers said.
"Our Indigenous Fashion Projects events, Country to Couture and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards, which are proudly hosted as a feature of the Fair's program, also broke records this year, with 22 collections gracing the prestigious runway and 66 nominations shortlisted for the awards."
2023 also marked the first year that ARIA Award winner and Darwin-raised artist Jessica Mauboy visited the Fair in person since being named the Foundation's Community Ambassador.
"It's an incredible experience having the opportunity to be surrounded by the vibrant artworks, stories and cultures of First Nations communities from some of the most remote parts of Australia at DAAF," Ms Mauboy said.
"It warmed my heart to be able to take part in this year's Fair and to meet and celebrate other First Nations creatives on beautiful Larrakia Country."
With this years event having been of great success for both artists, local communities and Northern Territory tourism sector, hype surrounding which artists, artworks and guests will attend the 2024 event has already begun.
"DAAF provides a global stage for First Nations artists from the Northern Territory, as well as artists from remote, rural, and regional communities across Australia, to showcase their artistic creations. It also serves as a nexus for both established and emerging artists to engage with art enthusiasts and buyers from around the world," Northern Territory Government minister for arts, culture and heritage, Chansey Paech said.
The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair will return for its 18th year in person and online from August 9-11, 2024.
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