In May, Arts Law CEO Robyn Ayres travelled to Maningrida, a First Nations community in remote West Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Robyn was joined by senior lawyers, Robert McRobbie from Macquarie Group and from Allens, partner Tom Highnam and Head of Pro Bono Nicky Friedman.
The basis for their trip was a visit to the Maningrida Arts & Culture group, where Robyn and the lawyers discussed the legal needs of the two art centres, Maningrida Arts and Crafts and Babbarra Women’s Centre and local artists.
The team met with senior Maningrida artists, including Crusoe Kurrdal, and Balang John Mawurndjul, Owen Yalandja, Deborah Wurrkidj and other local artists. The legal team received enormous support from Maningrida Arts & Culture senior liaison, Derek Carter as well as the General Manager Michelle Culpitt and art centre managers Chole Gibbon and Ingrid Johanson and interpreter extraordinaire Murray Garde.
The legal work involved education about wills for artists and other key issues such copyright contracts and related issues.
The visit was the start of a new ‘Adopt a lawyer’ relationship between Allens and Macquarie with the Maningrida Arts & Culture group and their two art centres, Maningrida Arts and Crafts and Babbarra Women’s Centre.
This program is designed to streamline the existing Artists in the Black support of art centres by facilitating a strengthened relationship between an art centre and a law firm or legal practice. The art centre can contact pro bono lawyers at the firm directly for advice on issues and lawyers will develop a more detailed understanding of the art centre’s operations which will position it to provide relevant commercial and timely advice with a much more in-depth understanding of the cultural context.
For the pro bono lawyers, it was their first visit to a remote First Nations community.
Arts Law’s CEO, Robyn Ayres said, “It was such a privilege to work with such outstanding artists and these two amazing art centres. We all learned a lot about the central place of culture to everything that Maningrida Arts & Culture group and the artists do. Even a simple question like ‘what is your name’ can have extensive cultural implications.”