Trouble afoot for Mwerre Anthurre Alice Springs Arts Centre Studio?

Trouble afoot for Mwerre Anthurre Alice Springs Arts Centre Studio?

A typical artwork of Kukula McDonald, artist at Bindi Inc.

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 18.10.13

Author: Susan McCulloch / AAD

According to a recent post on Facebook (in full under), Mwerre Anthurre, the arts centre arm of Bindi Inc. home of award winning and well known artists Kukula McDonald, Jane Mervin, Conroy Ginger, Lance James, Billy Kenda and long time representative of the late Billy Benn faces sudden closure.

The AAD contacted its new owner, Lifestyle Solutions, today and spoke with the Operations Manager.

We were told that they are undergoing a restructure and that representatives from the Indigenous Art Code, Ngurratjuta and Talapi, among others, had met with Lifestyle Solutions recently and were reassured that everything is business as usual. More meetings are scheduled for next week.

The Operations Manager also said that in the case of a walkout, as predicted by the Facebook post, there were backup staff available, quickly adding, however, that she hoped that wouldn't happen as it would be the artists who would suffer.

There have been management upsets recently with the Arts Centre Manager leaving then being reinstated. News is that the General Manager, who left also, may be reinstated too.

We will keep you updated.

In the meantime, Desert Mob are currently exhibiting some artworks from these artists, which closes 20 October 2013 - well worth seeing if you can make it.


Facebook post in full:

Get this out there!! If anyone can post it on Alice Springs Community Open Forum please do as I am waiting to be accepted by a the group! A valuable Alice Icon is about to be lost!

In the 1970’s a small dedicated group of people set up an organisation to support people with a disability. They raised money, they volunteered, they put their heart and soul into the notion that people with a disability need a place to find support and purpose. The energy and enthusiasm that went into Bindi has made it a local icon, with a building and garden located at 47 Elder Street, where 30 people find friendship and meaningful employment. A fully fitted workshop produces woodwork and metalwork products, known locally as ‘tuckerboxes’ of the finest quality.

At the rear of the building is a purpose built art studio, the home of Mwerre Anthurre Artists. Not just an art program, but a space for artists of national and international reputation to have an outlet for creative expression. The late Billy Benn Perrurle was a founding member of Mwerre Anthurre Artists, an Aboriginal artist collective supported by Bindi. Billy Benn was noted as one of the top 50 Aboriginal artists, with collections in all parts of the world.

A small local community organisation, even one with a big heart, is not immune from the threat of financial uncertainty. Over many years the parents and friends of Bindi have adapted to changing government policies and funding arrangements. After using reserve funds to remain open, they were forced to make a decision to partner with a larger organisation. The decision was not made lightly, and considerable effort was taken to find an organisation with similar values.

In July last year, Lifestyle Solutions Australia put out a press release titled ‘Bindi’s future secure’. They promised to build the organisation, introduce training, new staff and other resources to secure the future of Bindi as a social enterprise. The optimistic statements, however, turned out to be shallow. The building and grounds now belong to Lifestyle Solutions Australia. This week most of the staff were made redundant. The art studio and workshop have closed.

Lifestyle Solutions also owns an accommodation service. Coordinators and administration staff moved into the Bindi building, paying no rent or any contribution to running costs –these have all been at the expense of the Bindi programs. The Lifestyle Solutions ‘brand’ has taken over and the Bindi sign has been taken down. A phone call to 47 Elder Street will answer ‘Lifestyle Solutions’, no longer Bindi or Bindi Enterprises.

The media department of Lifestyle Solutions like to use the line ‘business as usual’. The newly appointed NT Manager has stated that nothing will change, but everything has changed. No art program, no workshop, and not enough staff to run any of the programs with adequate supervision, safety or support.

The Bindi team of supported employees have heard the comments. They know that Bindi will close, but the media line remains the same – ‘nothing will change, business as usual’. Full time care of a family member with a disability is a significant pressure on parents and carers who must never be taken for granted. The consequences are widespread, and the community will be affected by the ripple effect of losing a valuable service.

Perhaps at the head office of Lifestyle Solutions in Newcastle the CEO David Hogg will know about Andrew, Clayton, Kevin, Shaun, Ryan, Stewart, Tara, Nannette, Olivia, Jess, Lloyd, Adrian, Kukula, Jane, Billy, Conway, and Brandon. Maybe he will understand what it means to Daryl and Robert to have respite from their lives at the hospital, to be a member of the Bindi community for their part time jobs.

The participants of Bindi continue to arrive as though ‘business as usual’, but next week the majority of Bindi staff will walk away, and the new NT Manager will not even know their names. A small, local, community based organisation, set up by the community for the community, is now a commodity owned by Lifestyle Solutions Australia based in Newcastle. The assets valued at $1million are owned by David Hogg, the company owner and beneficiary of Lifestyle Solutions Australia.


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