Imagine the demise of an Indigenous-run artists’ collective based at Uluru, successfully representing some 500 artists and craftspersons in a region bigger than Sweden. Imagine the end of an organisation with a focus on punu-making (traditional wood carving) which has kept culture strong through workshops, presentations and tours for thousands of tourists every year. Imagine what it would mean to withdraw $3m of support for artists and their families living in 22 remote communities in the central desert region. Just imagine that. What should we do? Maruku Arts has been a key player in the central desert for 35 years but has now been left to flounder, as we have not been recipients of operational funding from Government for 25 years. Right now, we have become victims of our own success. The situation is critical. We need the public’s support.
A little bit of context about Maruku Arts
Maruku is an Aboriginal-owned social enterprise, a not-for-profit artists’ collective based at Uluru, NT Australia. We are quite unique as we receive no recurrent funding from Government. Our charter is to PRESERVE, PROTECT and PROMOTE the traditional Culture practiced by the Anangu people who live in Central Australia, and to alleviate poverty through art and cultural education. We have been in operation for 35 years guided by an Anangu Board. We have a love, dedication and duty of care to our artists and Anangu culture.
Maruku represents over 500 Indigenous artists and tour guides across the NPY Lands, in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. We provide support for Anangu through employment in our cave art tours, art-making workshops, walks and talks, but most important, we purchase artworks from over 20 communities - punu (tradition-based wood carvings), walka (paintings on canvas) and jewellery. We are known for our totally unique walka boards featuring designs embossed onto wooden boards.
But there’s a problem …
At this time as the world emerges from the devastating Coronavirus pandemic, this Ancient Culture, its Knowledge, and The Guardians that hold it are still incredibly vulnerable. All over the lands Anangu have come to rely on western culture, but some of the tragic by-products of current lifestyle include underlying health issues such as kidney, heart, and respiratory conditions. Limited and overcrowded housing is another issue which made self-isolation very difficult dduring the Covid-19 lockdown but fortunately Anangu accepted the corona virus limitations on lifestyle choices and travel and have emerged to date without any cases of Covid-19. Nonetheless, none of our artists and Anangu employees have been paid since the crisis began and despite some relief in the form of increased Jobseeker payments, are still in need of support.
Meanwhile, Maruku has been facing a crisis itself. We have received no on-going government funding in the past which has prevented us from receiving art centre bailouts from Arts Agencies and the Jobkeeper scheme has applied to us in a limited way due to our turnover in casual employees. Thus, we still need to seek funding to keep our 35 year-old organisation alive.
Our Gallery has been closed since early March, when we also ceased our tourism program and cancelled exhibitions and shows planned around Australia. This has meant no work for Anangu guides, artists, interpreters, and custodians. Most of our non-indigenous staff (10/16) have lost their jobs for the foreseeable future along with Anangu, although several continued working as volunteers to carry out essential tasks in the short-term.
Still we will continue to support Anangu and their creation and expression of culture through art, but to do that we need your help...
You can join us
We need to aim high, in order to survive.
We are looking to Government agencies for some stimulus funding but this will not go very far. We are doing everything we can with limited resources. We have asked the global community to help us raise $150,000 or even more, if possible. And we are humbled by the response so far. Nonetheless, we appeal to anyone who wants to, and is able to help.
Here’s what your donations will go towards.
We need Anangu to stay safe
and we need the organisation to survive!!!
- We would like to help families in need with purchase orders for food and warm blankets for the upcoming winter.
- The funds will also be used to pay a living allowance to our Anangu tour guides and staff here in Mutitjulu who no longer have work and don't get government assistance as they are casual workers or not eligible for the Jobkeeper scheme.
- Parts of the funds will be used to pay essential invoices to keep the organisation alive and small amounts of the funds will go towards Volunteers allowances for Maruku staff not covered under the Jobseeker scheme.
- If possible, we want Anangu to have activities while they are in lockdown, so we will encourage people to continue their art production at home. Funds raised during this campaign will help provide materials - canvas, paint, brushes - chisels, files and axes.
- Where possible, funds will also be used to purchase art works, which we will offer through our website and social media to keep wages coming in for Anangu and their families.
- And we will provide ongoing activities, like Bush trips to keep people active and engaged with country in these tough times.
To thank you for your contribution we have some special treats to express our gratitude
1: Our eternal gratitude sent through the World Wide Web
If you donate up to $299 you will receive our eternal gratitude in a Thank You Email.
2: Grow your Aboriginal Art collection!
If you spend $300 - $499:
We will give you a gift voucher worth $20.00 for use in our online store!
3: Walka kulupa
If you donate $500 - $799:
We will give you a small unique painting from our amazing artists.
4: Lucky punu dip ... a unique treat for you!
For donations $800 up to $999 we would like to give you a small piece of Punu (wood carving), which may be music sticks, an ancestral animal or a traditional tool, to show our gratitude.
5: A wooden spear to mark your contribution forever
If you donate $1000 or more, we would like to create and contribute on your behalf a traditionally made spear with your name embellished on the shaft, honouring your contribution to this culture, which will be part of an installation commemorating this difficult time in human history.
Be quick ... there is a limit of 120 spears!
6: An ... MMM ... experience (Magical Morning with Maruku)
If you are willing to help us with $10,000 or more.
We would like to say thank you with a private Maruku Experience just for you and a dear friend to discover the magic of Anangu culture (come on a private dot-painting and cave art experience and a private tour in our warehouse).
We all know that when lots of people donate even the smallest amount, magic can happen so even if it’s just $1.00 and you can share the link to our page it’s a powerful thing! You’re not just raising funds but investing in a collective cultural knowledge bank.
Please note donations over $2 are tax deductible.
The Directors, staff and artists of Maruku Arts thank you for your time and potential generosity.