July 26,2018
We sat down with Robyn Ayres the CEO of Arts Law to discuss how the money we raise through the Central Australia Challenge will impact the Artists in the Black program. Robyn provides an insight into the program, some positive outcomes for clients and what this means for the partnership between the practice and Arts Law.

What has motivated you to participate in the 2018 Artists in the Black Central Australia Challenge?

There is overwhelming demand for Artists in the Black services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists right across Australia and as CEO of Arts Law, if there is a new way I can contribute to meeting those needs then I am up for the challenge. It doesn’t hurt that we will be trekking in Central Australia with some of the most stunning country which is central to the artwork of Aboriginal artists in this region.

Tell us about the Artists in the Black program – the need and the impact?

Artists in the Black is a legal service provided by Arts Law especially tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts organisations. Artists in the Black was established to meet the need to protect Indigenous artists and their culture from exploitation and misappropriation. Last year, Artists in the Black delivered legal advice and education to 745 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

We have a fundraising goal of $50,000 for the Challenge where will this money be directed?

Last year the Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation raised enough money to help Arts Law employ an additional lawyer, Clara Edwards, to provide services to Artists In the Black clients. This year it would be great if we raised enough money to continue Clara’s employment as it’s such an important role and really extends what we our small team is able to achieve.

What does a challenge like this mean to the partnership between Arts Law and Colin Biggers & Paisley?

Last year, Arts Law and Colin Biggers & Paisley established a major partnership which unlike most pro bono relationships also includes a fund-raising component. This is very significant and shows a deeper level of commitment by the firm to Arts Law and Artists in the Black. This led to several outstanding fundraising campaigns as well as countless hours of pro bono support for our clients. Personally, the challenge is a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the team at Colin Biggers & Paisley and to deepen Arts Law’s connection with the firm which hopefully leads to more support for Artists in the Black’s clients.

How do you see the relationship between Colin Biggers & Paisley and Arts Law developing over the years to come?

I envisage the relationship continuing to grow. This year we are doing some new things together. We are delivering some Cultural Engagement training for the firm and Colin Biggers & Paisley have included Arts Law/Artists in the Black in their workplace giving program. This new initiatives not only benefit Arts Law and our clients but enrich Colin Biggers and Paisley’s understanding of Indigenous Australia. Hopefully this will lead to everyone in the firm wanting to do work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, wanting to participate in events like the Artists in the Black challenge and having a closer connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

What are you most excited about participating in the Challenge and visiting Central Australia?

As I mentioned above I am very excited to be visiting the stunning country in Central Australia where our trek will take place. This ancient landscape is incredibly special and it is such a privilege to be able to visit places that Aboriginal people have been walking for tens of thousands of years. I am hoping we will also get to see some wonderful art from this region too.

Can you tell me about some of the cases Arts Law has assisted with in the past 12 months? Tell me about the artist, the impact on them personally and the wider community.

Jason Passfield is a descendent of the Gamilaroi/Gomeroi people and an Indigenous visual artist. Based on the Gold Coast, Queensland, he has been painting and drawing for over 20 years and has exhibited in regional towns and capital cities.

Jason contacted Arts Law seeking advice about the use of a design which he created for the inaugural Jimbelungare Touch Football Competition. Jason believed it had been used in circumstances that went beyond the scope of the permission he had originally granted to the Queensland Government.

With assistance from Arts Law, Jason wrote to the Queensland Government setting out his concerns. While the Queensland Government did not agree that any breach of the licence had occurred, they agreed to attend a mediation arranged through Arts Law’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Service.

The mediation was successful with both parties agreeing to a settlement on confidential terms. The Queensland Government issued a formal apology to Jason for failing to attribute him as the author when the design was used in subsequent Jimbelungare Competitions. The Queensland Government acknowledged Ms Passfield’s intellectual property rights in his design and expressed regret if the failure to attribute his authorship and use of his design had caused him any distress or embarrassment.