NT National Aboriginal Art Gallery Alice Springs

Mr Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens – Apmereke artweye (Traditional owner) for Mparntwe with Russell Goldflam. Photo: ASN archives.

Gallery: national reference group appointed, Alice Springs News, 4 September 2018

Members of the National Reference Group for the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery have been announced.

The group will provide advice on delivery of the project, advocate nationally and help progress the recommendations outlined in the expert steering committee report on the implementation and operation of the Gallery.

The expressions of interest process returned a significant number of individuals with expertise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Aboriginal tourism development, corporate fund-raising and philanthropy.

The group includes Arrernte traditional owner Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens, (Apmereke artweye for Mparntwe, Alice Springs); co-chair of the Initial Scoping Steering Committee, Desart CEO, Phillip Watkins; the immediate past director of the National Gallery of Australia, Gerard Vaughan, AM, and Chairperson of the Aboriginal Tourism Advisory Council, Helen Martin.

Based on a two-year term, the 15 members are:


  • Dr Gerard Vaughan, AM – past Director, National Gallery of Australia
  • Ms Margo Neale, Senior Indigenous Curator and Indigenous Advisor to the Director, National Museum of Australia
  • Ms Rhoda Roberts, AO – Head of First Nations Programming, Sydney Opera House
  • Ms Helen Martin – Chair of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Tourism Advisory Council, originally from Irlpme, an environ of Alice Springs
  • Mr Frank Howarth – past National President of Museums Galleries Australia and former director of the Australian Museum
  • Mr John Mawurndjul, AM – Kuninjku bark painter and sculptor and a leading Aboriginal artist from Maningrida Arts and Culture Centre
  • Mr Malcolm Jagmarra Maloney – Warlpiri elder and Aboriginal artist from Central Australia
  • Ms Freja Carmichael – Quandamooka woman, descendant of the Ngugi people belonging to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) and Moorgumpin (Moreton Island) and is based in Brisbane, QLD; and currently visiting curator at the Institute of Modern Art, collaborating on The Commute: First Nations Sovereignties and Dialogues Across the Great Ocean
  • A representative from the National Gallery of Australia
  • A representative from the Torres Strait Regional Authority.

Local (Alice Springs):

  • Mr Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens – Apmereke artweye (Traditional owner) for Mparntwe (with Russell Goldflam, photo from our archives.)
  • Mr Phillip Watkins – CEO Desart, the co-Chair of Initial Scoping Steering Committee
  • Mr Robert Campbell – CEO, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation
  • Mr Luke Scholes – Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, MAGNT
  • Ms Elliat Rich – Local Alice Springs based designer.

Meanwhile, other critical project planning activity is underway including recruitment for a Project Implementation team (which will work with and take guidance from the National Reference Group) to be located in Alice Springs, and developing an Aboriginal Workforce and Enterprise Development Plan to achieve majority Aboriginal management and workforce by the time the Gallery opens in 2022.

Source: NT Government media release.

UPDATE, 1.26pm,  4 September 2018.

Terms of reference for the group are outlined on the government’s website. There is a strong emphasis on confidentiality. Members of the group will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement, to not disclose the content of the group’s discussions or recommendations to the government.

Excerpt of the terms below:

3. Role

The Reference Group will provide advice and recommendations through the Department of Tourism and Culture (DTC) to the Minister for Tourism and Culture. This may relate to:

  • development of the purpose and functions of the Gallery;
  • establishment and operation of the Gallery;
  • public programming, visitor experience and opening event;
  • planning and development of the building design;
  • legislation to establish the Gallery, functions, governance arrangements, accountability and reporting requirements;
  • key policy development and implementation, such as curatorial policy and collection acquisition and management, workforce planning and enterprise development;
  • advocacy and consultation and engagement with stakeholders, including with key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and artist organisations, traditional owners and individuals – locally, Territory wide and nationally;
  • promotion and marketing of the Gallery to position it as a national and international tourist destination, and linking it with Territory art centres and the broader Arts Trail;
  • fostering and building relationships with galleries and cultural institutions with shared focus and purpose nationally and internationally, eg the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory – Telstra NATSIAA, Art Gallery of South Australia – Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; and
  • establishment and fostering of partnerships with the corporate and philanthropic sector.

5. Conflict of Interest

Reference Group members will be required to sign and adhere to a Conflict of Interests/Private Interests Declaration form and be required subsequently to declare any potentially conflicting interest arising at any time.

6. Confidentiality

Reference Group members will be required to sign a Confidentiality form and maintain strict confidentially around all aspects of the project including the Reference Group’s discussions and endeavours and recommendations to Government.

8. Remuneration

Members will be remunerated and all costs associated with travel will be covered.

Remuneration will be in line with the Assembly Members and Statutory Officers (remuneration and Other Entitlements) Act approved classification.

9. Reporting

Advice and recommendations from the Reference Group shall be delivered through the DTC to the Minister for Tourism and Culture within the period of the Group’s term.

10. Meetings

The Reference Group will meet not less than three times a year and the first meeting will be held in Alice Springs. Subsequent meetings may be held via video/teleconference at the discretion of the Chair.

11. Secretariat

The Department of Tourism and Culture will provide Secretariat support to the Reference Group.