Injalak is a non-profit Aboriginal-owned enterprise. The Art Centre here in Gunbalanya was officially opened in late November 1989. Prior to 1989 its origins were in a small shed used for screen printing. The building that houses the various functions of the Art Centre is long and flanked on either side by covered verandahs. The artists work on either side of the verandah, sitting on the ground and grinding their ochres.
Indigenous community art centres play an important role in the artistic and cultural life of traditional Aboriginal artists living in remote communities. Injalak Arts is an outstanding example of a community organisation that is 100% Aboriginal owned and delivers positive social, economic and cultural outcomes for its members.
Injalak Arts has around 300 members – artists and weavers from Gunbalanya and surrounding outstations. Any Kunwinjku speaking person over the age of 18 is eligible for membership. Although the Arts Centre is located in Gunbalanya, it also services those members who choose to live at their outstations thereby generating livelihoods for many individuals and families.
Injalak is owned by an incorporated non-profit Association (NT) whose members are the artists and community. The Association’s activities are overseen by a Management Committee of nine elected members. The Association has a number of objectives, with the major emphasis being cultural maintenance and economic self-determination. In its constitution the Association aims to “support and enrich the culture of the people in this area” and provide economic benefits for the residents of Gunbalanya and its outstations while being non-profit making.
Screenprint Workshop Manager
Lauren Hicks & Romy Caen
In early 2013 Injalak trialled a new management structure. The original model, in place for the last 23 years, had a single director/manager as the key person responsible for management of the art centre. The new model recognised that key Association members were on-site daily and had corporate memory, experience and a deep level of understanding and engagement with the community that were critical in sustainable and culturally appropriate management of the centre.
The management team is comprised of three senior staff: the Mentor Manager and two Co-Managers. Former Manager (1991-95) Felicity Wright, originally returned to work with Injalak for a Change Manager and Business Planning consultancy in December 2012. In July 2013 she took up the role of Mentor Manager with Gabriel Maralngurra and Isaiah Nagurrgurrba appointed by the Executive Committee as Co-Managers. Both men were co-founders of Injalak in the late 1980s and are acclaimed artists and elders. The men have spent years working with a number of changing director/managers at Injalak, however, previously their contribution and senior status in the community was not formally acknowledged.
The team members share management responsibilities according to their experience, knowledge and skills. Since the men have taken on the management roles they have signalled to other members and community residents that there is a potential management career pathway at Injalak.
In the last year other members have also stepped up to take on more senior roles such as the Print Workshop Manager Reuben Manakgu and Tour Managers – Simon Badari and Joey Nganjmirra.
Left: Gabriel Maralngurra. Middle: Isaiah Nagurrgurrba. Right: Meeting with other staff members.
Injalak gratefully acknowledges the support of the NT Department of Business for its assistance in implementing the new model through its Indigenous Workshop Participation Initiatives.
Supported through the Australian Government’s Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program
In addition to the Co-Managers Injalak employs more than 20 Indigenous staff in a range of positions including: Culture Officer, Print Workshop Manager, Tour Manager, Maintenance Officer, Hill Tour Guides, Printers, Art Centre Guides, Retail staff, Art/Craft Demonstrators and Cleaners.
Some positions are seasonal.
Remote Jobs in Communities Program (RJCP)
Injalak partners with Jobfind Centre in Gunbalanya to provide activities, programs, training and employment opportunities for Jobseeker participants as artists and craftspeople, tour guides, retail staff and printers.