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"There is an inherent interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art."

Despite widespread support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, only a quarter of Australians have actually attended an Indigenous arts event, new research has revealed.

Researchers with Deakin Business School and the Institute of Koorie Education worked with the Melbourne Business School to examine the challenges, opportunities and strategies to build audiences for Indigenous arts events.  The results of their research have been released in the Australia Council for the Arts’ Building Audiences report.

The research found that 92 per cent of those who took part in the study viewed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts as an important part of Australian culture and 64 per cent had a strong or growing interest in art created or performed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, yet only 24 per cent had actually attended an Indigenous arts event.

'As expressions of the world’s longest continuing culture, Indigenous arts make a significant social, cultural and economic contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the broader Australian culture,' says Deakin Business School’s Dr Kerrie Bridson.

'It is therefore in the interests of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, that we work towards building audiences.'

The research found that the biggest barrier to engagement and attendance is a lack of awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

'Audiences feel that they would need to actively seek out information, but admit that they are unlikely to do so. As one audience member stated "You can’t see something if you never know about it",' Dr Bridson says.

'Audiences also have an inherent interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, but are uncertain about how to engage.

'This uncertainty is intensified by their misconceptions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts. Audiences have an image of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art as serious and educative, rather than and entertaining experience.'

Early education with children and families could provide a platform for positive image formation that would help to develop potential audiences was highlighted in the report as one of the opportunities to build audiences.

'Bringing the fun and humour to engagement strategies would help in crafting a more approachable and relevant image for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art,' Dr Bridson says.

 

The above content was sourced from the Deakin University Newsroom.