Celebrating Culture and Art: The 2023 Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

  • DAAF 2023 represented over 1,600 artists from a record 78 Art Centres across Australia
  • Approximately 12,000 unique artworks were presented across the hybrid event
  • A record $4.4 million of sales was generated by DAAF 2023, of which 100% went directly back to the Art Centres and their communities
  • The event saw over 29,000 visitors across the physical fair and online event

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF) is an annual celebration of the rich cultural and artistic diversity of Australia's Indigenous Art Centres and their artists. In 2023 DAAF celebrated its 17th year, and has secured a reputation as one of Australia’s most significant and internationally recognised arts events.

DAAF is delivered by the DAAF Foundation, which is owned and governed by the Art Centres it represents. It presented an enormously successful 2023 event from 10-13 August, embracing a hybrid in-person and online event concept for the second consecutive year. For the first time, the annual Opening Ceremony on 10 August was open to the public, further fostering a sense of community and cultural exchange.

Combining the traditional in-person art fair experience at the Darwin Convention Centre, on Larrakia Country, with an impressive online e-commerce platform, the event brought together artists and art lovers in a shared passion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, design, and culture and created economic opportunities for Art Centres and artists.

This hybrid approach, emphasising both physical and digital interaction, not only allows anyone, anywhere, to ethically purchase artwork directly from Indigenous-owned Art Centres across Australia but also offers insight into the people, cultures, and communities they represent. The Fair also provides visitors with a genuine opportunity to meet Indigenous artists, performers, and Arts Workers from some of the most remote regions of Australia.

DAAF 2023 represented over 1,600 emerging and established artists, with 140 artists attending the physical Fair in Darwin. A record total of 78 Art Centres participated in the event, with 41 Art Centres in the hybrid event, 27 in the physical event only, and 10 in the online-only segment. Approximately 12,000 unique artworks were presented for the public to explore and purchase.

The 2023 Fair saw record sales, with $4.4 million generated by the physical and online fair. Importantly, DAAF takes no commission, ensuring that 100% of sales go directly back to the Art Centres and their communities.

The international appeal of DAAF is undeniable, with the 2023 event attracting 29,031 visitors from across the globe. This included over 15,874 attendees at the physical event and 13,157 unique online visitors. 43.9% of visitors surveyed were from interstate, and 92% of visitors surveyed wanted to revisit Darwin and recommend it to others, further bolstering the region's tourism. Economically, DAAF had a significant impact, stimulating the Northern Territory economy by over $12 million, with $10 million of this generated from in-scope visitor spending.

Bula'Bula Arts booth, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, 2023. Image Credit: Dylan Buckee

DAAF Foundation’s success extended far beyond the Fair in 2023. Its accompanying Public Program offered an array of immersive experiences, from sold-out masterclasses to artist demonstrations and cultural performances.

Country to Couture returned to the Darwin Convention Centre on 6 August, showcasing 22 unique collections from First Nations designers and artists to a record audience of 1184 members. The collections featured ready-to-wear pieces and collaborations with community Art Centres, exhibited at two different runway shows. The Foundation also hosted the National Indigenous Fashion Awards on 7 August, which celebrated a record 66 nominated designers and artists across six different categories. The Awards, hosted for the fourth year running, had over 400 attendees and were later broadcast on NITV, further expanding DAAF’s reach.

The TFFF has supported DAAF Foundation and its continued growth since 2017, and recognises the importance of the Fair’s elevation of Indigenous artists on a national and international stage. CEO Neal Harvey, along with philanthropic peers, was privileged to be able to attend the Fair in person this year.

The hybrid format of DAAF's 2023 event opened up incredible national and international sales and awareness opportunities for Art Centres, and the Foundation hopes to continue to present the event in a hybrid format in future.

Aerial view of Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, 2023. Image Credit: Dylan Buckee

Cover photo: Red Flag Dancers performance at DAAF 2023. Image Credit: Dylan Buckee. All photos courtesy of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation.

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation is supported through the Resilience stream.

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The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation is based in Meanjin (Brisbane).