Government is recruiting for the national Aboriginal art gallery



Jobs ads were placed about a week ago for a “senior director” for the NT Government’s proposed national Aboriginal art gallery. Applications close December 6.

The role is to “lead the delivery” of the project, working with “a diverse group of stakeholders, including Federal Government, key philanthropic organisations and corporate Australia to facilitate partnership opportunities and investment models”.

Facilitating “meaningful partnerships with Traditional Owners” and ensuring “social, cultural and economic opportunities for Aboriginal Territorians” are also mentioned, but not as a first priority. The successful applicant will, however, have to “display a high degree of cross-cultural competency.”

“Knowledge of the Arts” and of “the arts and museum sector” will assist; a tertiary qualification “in Social Policy, Arts Executive Management, or Public Policy, and membership of a relevant professional organisation”, will be viewed favourably, as will a “sound understanding of collections of works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists with cultural, historical and social significance”.

A video promoting the project online says it will be “one of the defining experiences of Central Australia, especially as we work together to recover from the impacts of Covid-19”.

It claims that the gallery will be led “by Aboriginal experts” and that the site in the Alice Springs CBD is supported by “many Aboriginal custodians”.

It says work is underway to acquire Anzac Oval, for the project’s green space; to relocate rugby, and to develop a detailed design brief. 

It refers to “extensive community consultation” which found “majority support for the gallery to be built at Anzac Hill precinct” and cites a “comprehensive business case by Ernst & Young”, painting a glowing picture of its prospects.

See our analysis of the consultation (in reality an exercise in persuasion) here and the business case (far from “comprehensive” by its own definition) here.

Images at top and below, screen captures from the government’s promotional video.




  1. The decision to build the National Aboriginal Art Gallery at the Anzac Oval has been made a long time ago. Key-stake holders have placed their bets well in advance and set the stage for it to happen. Just watch how all the pieces will fall into place: the demolition of the Plaza, building of Resort-style accommodation at its place, demolition of the Transit Plaza making space for a new Shopping Centre and on and on it goes.
    Every so-called consultation with key groups, organisations and focus groups were mere lip-services to either support that outcome at best or give the process a cover of legitimacy. There is, of course, the possibility, vague as it may be, that the Gallery will change the fortune of a town reeling in pain. More likely it will go down the same fate as many other projects announced with great fanfare in the past to do exactly the same but ending up being a burden to the budget. One doesn’t have to go far and look at the Desert Knowledge Project, Desert Wildlife Park, Megafauna Central and the list goes on. At least one positive outcome is that they keep some people in a job – the more public servants the merrier it seems. There are many other great projects however that have happened and are in the process to happen not paid for by the taxpayer and without the publicity and political interference. At least that is until they become so successful that the government feels the urge to jump in on the bandwagon and cash in on their success, be it for PR purposes only.
    It is almost impossible for the average citizen to see through the muddy water of back door deals, connections, favouritism and sheer selfishness by so many, to even get a chance to understand what really goes on away from the scrutiny of the public eye. All they’re left to do is wonder why things are playing out the way they do and write comments on public forums like this one, only to be ignored or ridiculed by the spin doctors if they get to close to the truth.


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