Australia’s Premier Indigenous Art Fair Set For Success in 2021

CAIRNS Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is committed to strengthening and celebrating culture, creating professional development opportunities for artists, and cultural exchange between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and visitors. CIAF focusses on offering an ethical art market place, attracting national and international collectors and curators, commissioning new work and providing pathways for emerging visual and performance artists.

“The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair is an iconic event – helping to showcase some of the Far North’s greatest experiences to thousands of tourists each year,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“Events like this that support local jobs and generate cash for local businesses are vital to our economic recovery.

“We’re partnering with event organisers to safeguard local jobs and rebuild our economy.

“The support of the government will help to ensure the future of this event beyond the pandemic.”

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said Australia is home to the longest continuous living cultures in the world, and CIAF helps to showcase this every year through its program of arts and cultural activities.

“The arts sector was impacted by the pandemic, and the Palaszczuk Government is supporting the industry through the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package,” Minister Enoch said.

“This $200,000 funding for CIAF, under the Spaces and Places program which is supported by the Recovery Package, will help the Fair build on the incredible success of last year’s event, which saw over $330,000 in arts sales, and reached more than 2.5 million people in 85 countries.

“Because of the pandemic, last year’s Fair moved entirely online, allowing Queensland’s First Nations artists, history and culture to be showcased on an international scale.

“This year’s festival is sure to be another hit. This funding will go towards creating new large scale, 3D works from First Nations artists, as well as a mentoring program to help boost artists’ skills, careers and networks.

“Last year I launched Creative Together 2020-2030: A 10-Year Roadmap for arts, culture and creativity in Queensland, which includes key priorities to elevate First Nations arts and share our stories and celebrate our storytellers, and this investment will further assist CIAF to support those priorities.

“The arts are key to delivering the Palaszczuk Government’s plan for economic recovery, each year injecting $8.5 billion into the state’s economy and supporting more than 92,000 jobs for Queenslanders, which is why we continue to invest in events such as CIAF,” Ms Enoch said.

Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the Palaszczuk Government has invested in CIAF with $600,000 annually, through the Backing Indigenous Arts initiative.

“CIAF plays a huge role in showcasing the unique and vast First Nations cultures we have here in Queensland and ensures that people have a place to ethically purchase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art,” Minister Crawford said.

“This year, CIAF will utilise the additional funding from the Palaszczuk Government to work with eight regional arts centres and independent artists to develop their artistic practice and importantly, enhance economic opportunities for First Nations artists.”

Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said it was exciting to welcome back the festival, which help boost the local tourism and showcase the unique cultures in the region.

“CIAF is an important part of our Cape York and Torres Strait Island communities each year, so it is great to welcome it back once again for 2021 in both a physical and digital format,” Ms Lui said.

“The Fair will continue to evolve as an innovative festival, spanning visual arts, dance, theatre, music, fashion and more.”

Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said CIAF provided an opportunity for local residents and visitors to explore Queensland’s rich artistic and cultural offerings.

“The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair has played a key role in the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to providing arts and culture experiences that are unique to Queensland,” he said.

CIAF General Manager Darrell Harris said CIAF’s underpinning aim for the Spaces and Places funding was to generate a body of work that will be on show at CIAF and for sale.

“In a snapshot, the funds will support CIAF’s effort to create the ‘wow’ factor for the art fair each year, by providing Indigenous artists with professional development in artistic practice to lift the quality of the work through offering commissions,” Mr Harris said.

“CIAF is very excited to receive this support. It demonstrates a commitment to the longevity of the Fair and faith in our team, and will be crucial for our Artistic Director, Janina Harding, and our artistic team, to venture further into communities, where they can build rapport with artists, families and art centre staff, to encourage the production of exciting new works,” he said.

“CIAF looks forward to having a greater presence across Queensland, in the Indigenous communities whose art and culture we showcase.”

Since the onset of COVID-19 the Palaszczuk Government has committed to nearly $60 million worth of initiatives to support the arts and cultural sector, including the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package.

CIAF also successfully secured $64,000 through the First Nations Commissioning Fund to develop the LIVE IT UP performing arts and music program to be presented in 2021, and $20,000 from the Digital Adaptation Fund for video and camera equipment through the recovery package.

CIAF will be held from 17-22 August 2021.

Further Information /

Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Image Credit / Cairns Indigenous Art Fair