Covid19 impacted: The Oldest Living Culture on EARTH needs help!

By Maruku Arts


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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 non-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 a region bigger than the state of Victoria. 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 while the entire world faces a devastating Coronavirus pandemic, this Ancient Culture, its Knowledge, and The Guardians that hold it are 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 makes self-isolation very difficult and the potential spread of the coronavirus very rapid. Limited access to necessary health care is another issue faced every day. As communities are now in lockdown, we need to protect the elderly and sick and to reduce the need for Anangu to leave the community to seek money in other locations.

In addition, Maruku is facing a crisis itself. We have received no on-going government funding in the past which now prevents us receiving art centre bailouts from Arts Agencies and the Jobkeeper scheme will apply to us in a limited way due to the turnover in casual employees. Thus, we need to seek funding to keep our 35 year-old organisation alive.

Maruku has had to close our Gallery, cease our tourism program and cancel exhibitions and shows planned around Australia. This means no work for Anangu guides, artists, interpreters, and custodians. Most of our non-indigenous staff (10/15) have lost their jobs for the foreseeable future along with Anangu, although some have agreed to continue 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 are now asking the global community to help us raise $150,000 or even more, if possible. 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!!!

  1. We would like to help families in need with purchase orders for food and warm blankets for the upcoming winter.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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Team Members

Maruku Arts

Clive Scollay

Siret Niit