Case Studies

Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative Ltd and Governance issues

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Background

Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative Ltd (Boomalli) approached Artists in the Black (AITB) for assistance with governance issues which were threatening the closure of Boomalli despite a history of over 20 years. Since 1987 Boomalli has continued to promote the original objectives of the founding artist members by providing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists so that they can exhibit, define and promote Aboriginal art with Aboriginal endorsed guidance. It's one of Australia's longest running Aboriginal owned and operated art galleries.

Issues

Initially Boomalli sought assistance from AITB about its business structure. In September 2009, AITB secured the support of Allens Arthur Robinson (Allens), one of Australia's leading law firms. Since then Allens has been providing Boomalli with pro bono advice on various corporate governance and legal issues which were impacting Boomalli's survival, growth and relationships with various entities, including government authorities.

The corporate governance work ranged from drafting various documentation such as amendments to the Boomalli rules to allow for the appointment of non-Aboriginal directors with the relevant set of skills and the charter of the Financial and Risk Committee (whose role is to supervise Boomalli's financial and risk matters) to advising Boomalli and liaising with the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

The legal work, most of which is on-going, relates to the proposed transfer of the premises at 55-59 Flood Street, Leichhardt (Property) from Tullagulla Limited (a consortium comprising of Boomalli, Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation and Indigenous Screen Australia) to Boomalli (Proposed Transfer).

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The most recent legal work relates to the proposed transfer of the premises at 55-59 Flood Street, Leichhardt from Tullagulla Limited (a consortium comprising of Boomalli, Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation and Indigenous Screen Australia) to Boomalli. The work in relation to the proposed transfer includes advising on the legal implications of the dissolution of the consortium arrangements and the proposed de-registration of Tullagulla, and liaising and negotiating with the relevant stakeholders, including the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, Tullagulla, the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC). Allens have also drafted various legal documents such as the stamp duty exemption application lodged with the New South Wales Office of State Revenue, the Asset Sale Agreement and the NSW Transfer Form in anticipation of the proposed transfer. As the stamp duty exemption application was successful, Boomalli will not be liable to pay for stamp duty should the proposed transfer occur – a great outcome in helping out with some financial difficulties. Another milestone achievement was reached in February 2011 when the ILC Board consented to the proposed transfer.

Outcome for client

The work that has been done by Allens so far has been really helpful in improving Boomalli's compliance with its legal and regulatory requirements and maintaining occupation of the Property.

Bronwyn Bancroft, founding member of Boomalli and current director had this to say:

Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative will turn 25 in 2012. At 25 it is generally accepted that young people haven’t learned enough to be capable and competent around making life decisions.

Without Allens Arthur Robinson’s assistance we would not be turning 25 and would have been stripped of these rights. AAR's commitment and generosity in relation to the almost impossible task of saving the Co-operative has us getting ready to bake the cake of Self-determination. This wonderful achievement came to fruition through the skills, insights and professionalism of AAR, in particular, Cellia CotanCognard and Vijay Cugati, coupled with the referral from Robyn Ayres of Arts Law/Artists in the Black, which in its embryonic stage, was for assistance with a slight constitutional change.

We can only hope you come and blow out the candles with us next year.


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