Increased funding for Indigenous art to roll out QR codes so clients can verify the authenticity of works

The federal government has increased funding for the Indigenous arts sector, including funds to roll out QR codes that allow customers to verify the authenticity and cultural significance of works of art and products.

Up to 80 remote and regional Indigenous arts centers will be supported to connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN) and receive materials and training starting in March next year, with the aim of enabling communities to access potentially lucrative online marketplaces.

The Commonwealth is also considering a certification system to ensure that counterfeit products and works of art allegedly produced by First Nations artists can be easily identified as fake.

Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said the increased funding would translate into more than $ 27 million spent in the Indigenous arts sector each year over the next five years.

“[It] will help protect the cultural knowledge that underpins the work of Australia’s world-renowned indigenous visual artists, while investing in sustainable economic opportunities for a modern digital environment, ”he said.

“We are funding the nationwide roll-out of digital labeling, investing in the ethical production of authentic art, and working with Indigenous communities to explore certification marks and new stand-alone legislation.

Buyers will be able to scan QR codes on products to make sure they are genuine.(ABC News: Tiffany Parker)

This is not the first time the Coalition has committed to targeting counterfeit Aboriginal art, with Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt promising legislation to “ban” imitation products last year.

In 2018, a parliamentary inquiry found that artists and indigenous communities felt cheated by mass-produced memorabilia pouring into the country from sweatshops abroad, mimicking their creations and “stealing” their culture.

The federal government has also pledged to include resale provisions in future free trade agreements, such as the pact currently being negotiated with the UK, to ensure that indigenous artists have access to royalties when their work is sold abroad.

Digital labels using QR codes proving authenticity and sharing of culture

Alice Springs-based Indigenous arts organization Desart launched a trial using “digital labels” in 2018.

Five Indigenous Art Centers provided Desart with information about the artists, artwork, and the art center that could be accessed once someone scanned the QR code on the product or label’s label. the artwork.

“One of the critical elements of the QR code is that it gives access to product information – whether it is a single painting or a series of merchandise, souvenir products, bespoke products. that some art centers manufacture, “said Desart general manager Philip Watkins.

“When we talk about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, it is embedded in culture and it is an expression of cultural practice.

“It just increases a greater understanding and respect for the culture and gives the buyer confidence that they are getting a genuine product.”

Mr Watkins said he was delighted the trial was expanded, with plans to include 20 more centers in the system from 2023.


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