ABORIGINAL artists have come together to try to save the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative.
Two months ago Boomalli, one of Australia’s longest-running Aboriginal owned and operated art galleries, was threatened with eviction from its Leichhardt premises.
A debt of tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes had put its future in doubt.
Due to the unpaid debts, the co-operative was told to vacate the building they have occupied for six years by its landlord and financial supporter, the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Two of Boomalli’s founding members, Bronwyn Bancroft and Jeffrey Samuels, only heard about the troubles after the eviction notice was issued.
Since then the artists have rallied to save the project, clean up the building, sort through finances and accept pro-bono legal and financial advice.
“There was a huge breakdown in communication and relations among board members,” Ms Bancroft said.
“We only found out two months ago that we had been declared insolvent and had to get out.
“We are in discussions with the Australian Tax Office, lawyers, politicians, everyone, trying to remit $90,000 in tax debt.
If we can do that and sign off on the 2008 audit then we will be free to apply for funding again and get the wheels turning.”
Mayor Jamie Parker said the problems were caused by financial and administrative inexperience. “It’s about getting the structure so when the money comes in there is a system to deal with it,” he said. A spokesman for Federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett said Boomalli had been given $167,000 in funding for 2008-2009 through the National Arts and Crafts Industry Support (NACIS) program.
He said the organisation did not apply for funding for 2009-10.
“Any new organisation will be able to apply to the NACIS program for operational funding support,” the spokesman said.
Boomalli has helped boost the careers of many indigenous artists, including Tracey Moffatt, Fiona Foley, Joe Hurst and Brenda Croft.
02 Nov 09 Article by Hannah Parkes