Culture, Art and Heritage

News & Resources

Culture, Art and Heritage

Regional Goal

Protect, promote, revitalise and maintain Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal traditions and cultural heritage.

Program Goal

The Culture, Art and Heritage program component objectives are:

  • Strong, supported and respected Ailan Kastom
  • Active and sustainable arts and craft industry
Program Objectives

The Culture, Art and Heritage program component will:

  • protect culturally significant sites and artefacts to ensure their longevity
  • revitalise and maintain traditional cultural practices (art, dance, language, story-telling) throughout the Torres Strait and Aboriginal communities in the region

Program Deliverables

  • Increased number of professionally active Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal artists and active art centres in the region.
  • Increased capacity and capability to facilitate cultural initiatives and projects.
  • Increased profile of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal arts and culture.
  • Increased community involvement in the preservation of cultural heritage.

Program Expenditure 2012 - 2013

Table 2-2 Culture, Art and Heritage Program Expenditure 2012 - 2013

Budget $'000's Actual $'000's Variance $'000's
4,023 3,847 -176
A photograph showing FaHCSIA Secretary Mr Finn Pratt inspecting the Gab Titui Cultural Centre renovation

Gab Titui Cultural Centre renovation inspection by FaHCSIA Secretary, Mr Finn Pratt.

A chart showing the details of TSRA's culture, art and heritage program

Culture, Art and Heritage Program Projects and Achievements

Project Name: Cultural Maintenance

Project purpose

To support the cultural development and maintenance of Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people residing within the Torres Strait.

To embed the TSRA Cultural Policy within all TSRA administrative and service delivery processes.

Achievements for 2012 - 2013

The program supported 23 grant applications for projects focused on arts development activities and a range of cultural maintenance projects relating to music, dance and language.

Stage five of the Music and Dance Audit continued, documenting and recording traditional and contemporary music and dance across the region. Mer and St Pauls communities were included in this stage of the audit. The Saibai community launched their CD and DVD package with traditional celebrations in February 2013. Cultural maintenance information will be presented as a CD and DVD package that will be on sale to the general public through the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. To date 10 Torres Strait communities have participated in this project, with seven audits still to be completed.

Ailan Kastom – The Culture of the Torres Strait is an important documentary sponsored by the TSRA. The documentary showcases the culture, history and heritage of the Torres Strait Islands people and the region. The film highlights the languages of the Torres Strait; sites of cultural significance; major ceremonies; the origins and development of art work, dance, music and song; and interviews with elders, community leaders and community members.

The third round of the Torres Strait Dance Strategy helped the Arpaka Dance Company from St Pauls community to participate in the World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festival in Adelaide, South Australia in March 2013.

The Community Cultural Planning project continued in 2012 - 2013. The aim of the project is to engage with community members to develop a clear plan that assists each community to work towards achieving their cultural and artistic goals. Erub was the first community to participate in the project; consultation commenced in early 2012 and the draft plan was delivered in early 2013. Poruma was the second community nominated to be part of the project; consultations commenced in early 2013 and the final plan is to be completed in August 2013.

Culture, Art and Heritage Program Projects and Achievements

Project Name: Arts Development

Project purpose

To implement the Torres Strait Islander Arts Development Plan to achieve:

  • a skilled and professional Torres Strait Islander arts industry
  • a regular supply of diverse Torres Strait Islander art to all identified markets, with a focus on high-quality work
  • an increase in Torres Strait Islander art sold across all markets.

Achievements for 2012 - 2013

The Torres Strait Annual Art Award winners will be announced on 23 July 2013. As part of preparation for this year's award, TSRA helped artists throughout the region to enter works that relate to the theme of ‘Ilan style'. The sixth event since the inception of the awards in 2008, this annual showcase of contemporary Torres Strait and Aboriginal art from across the region has grown in profile. This year a record 77 entries were received from 17 communities, with works ranging from prints, paintings, artefacts and sculptures to multimedia.

The three art centres based in Badu, Moa and Erub communities continued operating as independent incorporated bodies. Now into their fourth year and firmly established, each centre continues to develop its unique art and to improve practices to generate more works to supply market demand and increase income for their artists. Each art centre sells works through the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, through travelling exhibitions and direct to the market through arts fairs and online trading.

Gab Titui Cultural Centre staff attended both the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in 2012. Participation at these events is part of the ongoing promotion and marketing of Torres Strait art and culture at major arts industry events. Works were sourced from the region and sold directly to a wider market base to increase income generation for local artists.

The partnership between the TSRA and Arts Queensland continued through the Indigenous Regional Arts Development Fund. Funds went towards the common funding round for Culture, Art and Heritage projects and support the Arts Development Program.

In partnership with the Tropical North Queensland TAFE and Community Enterprises Australia, TSRA developed and supported the implementation of the Torres Strait arts worker training.

Arts skills development workshops were undertaken to support the development and maintenance of traditional arts and crafts, including drum making, weaving and carving.

Culture, Art and Heritage Program Projects and Achievements

Project Name: Gateway / Hub for the Presentation, Preservation, Promotion and Education of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Culture and Arts

Project purpose

To present, preserve, and promote Torres Strait and Aboriginal culture and provide education about the history of the region, its people and its culture, and a point of sale for art and craft.

Achievements for 2012 - 2013

The Gab Titui Cultural Centre closed from December 2012 to July 2013 to undergo major renovations. Program operations continued as normal during this period, but the Gallery was closed and sales activities were substantially reduced. The renovations provided extended climate-controlled exhibition areas, open viewing areas, museum-quality display facilities, new performance areas and a new outdoor stage, upgraded sales facilities, and improved visitor access.

During renovations, the Gab Titui Cultural Centre team visited each community in the region to strengthen relationships and to provide information about services, support and upcoming opportunities for cultural practitioners and artists. They also ran art workshops in conjunction with community schools.

Preparations for the re-opening of the Centre commenced with a formal program developed to showcase visual arts, through new exhibitions, arts demonstrations and workshops, and performing arts, through traditional dance and live music performance.

Operations and business practices have been reviewed and upgraded to package the Gab Titui Cultural Centre experience for artists, suppliers, community members, the general public, tourists and visitors to the region.

Project Name: Cultural Heritage Management (links to the Native Title and Environmental Management Programs)

Project purpose

To develop strategies to support community-owned Cultural Heritage Mapping to record cultural and sacred sites, artefacts, stories and histories.

To establish Cultural Heritage Bodies.

Achievements for 2012 - 2013

Cultural Heritage Management continues to be factored into the work of the Culture, Art and Heritage Program, in particular for projects linked with other programs areas such as the Native Title and Environmental Management areas. An example of this is the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) pilot project.

The TEK pilot project is being delivered on Boigu, Badu, Mabuiag and Moa islands. It will assist the Ranger Program in natural resource management, cultural heritage mapping and maintenance.

The TSRA promotes the Cultural Policy and Cultural Protocols Guide to partners and stakeholders and implements the protocols in all management practices.

TSRA has built effective relationships with the Queensland Library's Indigenous Knowledge Centre program to assist communities to document their heritage.

The TSRA has helped Prescribed Bodies Corporate in the region in their preparation to become registered as Cultural Heritage Bodies under the Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld).

Key Performance Indicators – Portfolio Budget Statements

Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Artists

Number of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal artists and cultural practitioners supported

In 2012 - 2013 the TSRA Culture, Art and Heritage Program supported over 200 artists and cultural practitioners through a broad range of activities. These included grants; cultural and arts skills development projects; and the promotion and creation of sales opportunities through the Gab Titui Cultural Centre gallery, gift shop and exhibitions areas. As at 30 June 2013 there were 167 active artists who engaged directly with the cultural centre. The total number of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal artists and cultural practitioners supported in a year has increased and will grow with the increase in activities and opportunities.

Measured change in the number of professionally active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and active art centres in the region.

The TSRA supported 23 grant applications jointly funded by the Culture, Art and Heritage Grant Program and the Indigenous Regional Arts Development Fund. The TSRA received 77 entries for the sixth Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award in 2013 compared to 44 entries received for the 2012 awards. The number of entries received for the regional art awards is a key indicator of activity in the art sector.

Additional Key Performance Indicators – Torres Strait Development Plan

Professional Artists

Increased number of professionally active Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal artists and active art centres in the region

The TSRA provided funding to the three art centres established in the region: Erub Ewer Meta (on Erub Island), Ngalmun Lagau Minaral (on Moa Island) and Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh (on Badu Island). The centres have been in operation for four years. During this time there has been an increase in the production and quality of artworks, a regular supply has been established and there has been an increase in artists' income. It is anticipated that revenue generated via the sale of artworks and locally manufactured handicrafts will increase in 2003 - 2014 with the re-opening of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre and the improved online trading facilities the TSRA offers.

Short-term benefit description

Increased number of:

  1. Active Torres Strait Islander artists
  2. Active art centres in the region.
Benefit target Progress COAG target
15 applications for funding supported through the Culture, Art and Heritage Program this year. The TSRA supported 23 grant applications jointly funded by the Culture, Art and Heritage Grant Program and the Indigenous Regional Arts Development Fund. Strong culture and respect of Ailan Kastom underpins the achievement of all the Closing the Gap targets.
Three art centres were established as at June 2011. 77 artist entries were received for the sixth Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award.  
  Over 200 artists and cultural practitioners were supported through the Culture, Art and Heritage Program.
  Some 167 active artists engaged with the Gab Titui Cultural Centre.
  The TSRA worked in partnership with Community Enterprises Australia / My Pathway and TAFE to provide training to 23 arts workers.
  The TSRA continued to fund the three art centres established in the region: Erub Ewer Meta (on Erub Island), Ngalmun Lagau Minaral (on Moa Island) and Badhulgaw Kuthinaw Mudh (on Badu Island).

Cultural Maintenance

Increased capacity and capability to facilitate cultural initiatives and projects

The TSRA, through the Culture, Art and Heritage Program, has worked closely with all the communities of the region to meet this performance measure. It has done this through three avenues:

  • strengthening and building on existing community relationships and providing tailored support and opportunities to help achieve both short-term and long term-goals
  • reviewing, upgrading and monitoring operational and business practice to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the program in meeting community needs and addressing priorities
  • effectively working with all stakeholders to develop partnerships to meet the needs of all parties.

Recent activities in this area include:

  • assisting artists and dance teams to package their products to enter the market more effectively
  • renovating the Gab Titui Cultural Centre to improve access, increase storage requirements and create multifunctional spaces to enhance the Centre's capacity for programming
  • working with key cultural institutions to ensure that Torres Strait culture and art can be promoted effectively to state, national and international audiences to the region's benefit.

The benefit achievements against the Torres Strait Development Plan related to this KPI are shown below.

Short-term benefit description

Increased capacity and capability to facilitate cultural initiatives and projects.

Benefit target Progress COAG target
Increase display area. Major renovations at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre have been completed, with official re-opening scheduled for 23 July 2013. Strong culture and respect of Ailan Kastom underpins the achievement of all the Closing the Gap targets.
Develop two external partnerships for display by 1 July 2010. Torres Strait culture and art were presented at both the Darwin and Cairns Arts Fairs in 2012. The Arpaka Dance Company was supported to perform at the World of Music, Art and Dance Festival (WOMAD) in Adelaide in 2013.

Arts Development

Increased profile of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal arts and culture

The promotion of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal arts and culture continues to be a core activity of the TSRA through the Culture, Art and Heritage Program and the Gab Titui Cultural Centre. Exhibitions, ongoing displays of works, events, tours and attendance at art fairs all contribute to raising the profile of the arts and culture of the region. Networking with tourism operators and promotion of activities through industry publications and the Gab Titui Cultural Centre website all contribute to increasing the number of visitors seeking information about Torres Strait culture and the arts, artists and art centres in the region.

Short-term benefit description

Increased profile of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal arts and culture:

Benefit target Progress COAG target
14,000 visitors to Gab Titui Cultural Centre in 2010 - 2011. 7,019 visitors recorded as at 30 June 2013. $105,276 was generated through retail and sales activities as at 30 June 2013. Strong culture and respect of Ailan Kastom underpins the achievement of all the Closing the Gap targets.
$240,000 generated through retail and activities in 2011 - 2012. While the projected revenue and visitor targets for the Gab Titui Cultural Centre were not reached in 2012 - 2013 this was due to the renovations underway between December 2012 and July 2013.
20,000 hits on Gab Titui Cultural Centre website. Over 48,212 hits recorded at 30 June 2013.

Cultural Heritage

Increased community involvement in the preservation of cultural heritage

This target is jointly shared between the Culture, Art and Heritage, Environmental Management, and Native Title Programs. The Culture, Art and Heritage Program supports and funds grants for community-based cultural heritage projects; develops partnerships with communities for cultural maintenance and heritage projects through the Gab Titui Cultural Centre; and works with communities on a broad range of opportunities with external parties. It also works with the Environmental Management Program on the Traditional Ecological Knowledge project as an important cultural heritage management initiative.

Short-term benefit description

Increased community involvement in the preservation of cultural heritage.

Benefit target BProgress BCOAG target
One cultural heritage activity undertaken in 2011 - 2012. The Gab Titui Cultural Centre worked closely with communities in 2012 - 2013 to identify important traditional stories that can be linked to artefacts and artworks that could be displayed to the general public. Strong culture and respect of Ailan Kastom underpins the achievement of all the Closing the Gap targets.