14 May
Robyn Ayres presenting at Mangkaja Art Resource Agency (MARA)

Arts Law & Artists in the Black on Outreach in WA

Arts Law’s Robyn Ayres and Donna Robinson were in Broome and Fitzroy Crossing this month to visit local First Nations art centres. They were joined by local Perth lawyer, Matt Clarke from Dentons. 

Arts Law CEO, Robyn Ayres gave us an inside look at what they achieved on their trip. 

After travelling for 13 hours, Donna Robinson and I finally arrived in Broome ready for an early journey to Fitzroy Crossing the next morning. We were joined in Perth by local lawyer, Matt Clarke from Dentons, who assisted the Artists in the Black outreach trip on a pro bono basis over the week.

We all enjoyed the 400 km drive east from Broome through the flat bush landscape, which was only broken by a couple of amazing rocky outcrops.

Once we arrived in Fitzroy Crossing, the team spent the afternoon drafting wills for local artists at Mangkaja Art Resource Agency (MARA). I also spoke with Belinda Cook, the manager of MARA, about various aspects of the art centre's business. In particular, we spoke about the difficulties the art centre has experienced in helping families manage deceased estates where there was no will. This really highlighted to me the importance of legal education on wills and estate planning among artists.  

The next day begun with Belinda and I focussing on contracts needed by the art centre, whilst Donna and Matt continued working on artists' wills.

At around 10am, 24 artists congregated to hear Arts Law talk to them about their rights, including copyright, moral rights, Indigenous cultural and intellectual property, wills and related issues. Many artists were shocked to hear the stories of how artists have been exploited due to a lack of understanding of their legal rights. The artists in attendance were also interested in learning how wills could help share income from their art and copyright with their families after their death. The afternoon was spent drafting as many wills as we could for all the artists who wanted one.

After Fitzroy Crossing, the team went back to Broome to spend two days with the artists and staff at Nagula Jarndu Women’s Arts and Resource Centre.

  “Working in the Mangkaja Art Centre was a tremendous experience, surrounded by the artists at work and their beautiful various art works. Taking instructions and preparing multiple wills was challenging and rewarding.” Donna Robinson (Senior Solicitor, Arts Law)

 “The vivid landscapes, the colourful personalities and the rich Aboriginal culture meld together to create a reality vastly different to my ordinary day in the office. It was an absolute pleasure to be in a position to make a small contribution of my time and resources to such a worthwhile cause. Truly an extraordinary experience and will be fondly remembered.” Matt Clarke (Solicitor, Dentons)