Collaborate start-up launches app for indigenous artists

Wednesday 30 November, 2016

Aboriginal elder Glenn Bird, who works out of the CCIQ Collaborate innovation and accelerator hub, launches his indigenous art app in Brisbane next week.

The Yulngu program will assist indigenous artists to catalogue and sell their work.

Mr Bird received a significant grant from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) to help turn his concept into reality.

He had entered the CCIQ Suncorp #SmallBusinessChallenges competition last December and proposed his Yulngu app to help struggling local Aboriginal artists.

The app is effectively cutting out the middle man (art dealers, galleries and community art centres). It allows artists to sell directly to customers and improve their profit margin by at least 30 per cent.

One year on, Mr Bird will launch the app, with family, friends and dignitaries, including Queensland’s first female indigenous Member of Parliament, Leeanne Enoch, and CCIQ CEO Stephen Tait, in attendance at The Edge, at the State Library, South Brisbane, from 2pm on Thursday December 8.

Mr Bird said the afternoon launch would be staged as an art exhibition, with work from some of Queensland’s and Australia’s best known Aboriginal artists, including Paddy Fordham, winner of the 1993 Aboriginal Artist of the Year Award.

Several limited edition prints from Mr Fordham will be on sale. Guests will also be able to purchase any of the other 30-40 pieces of Aboriginal art which will be on display.

Mr Bird said he was very excited about the potential for the app and the benefit to indigenous artists.

“They can download the app from the Apple Store, upload their work and sell it to customers. It can all be done in a matter of moments,” he said.

He has spent more than 30 years in the indigenous art community in Queensland and the Northern Territory and brings a wealth of experience to the concept.

Mr Bird said that currently, art dealers might buy pieces from Aboriginal painters and carvers, or they might go on display in a gallery or centre in the hope that tourists or a member of the public buys the on-consignment pieces. The artist might get $40 out of every $100.

“The Yulngu app puts them in charge. They download their work and customers can buy directly from a mobile phone, tablet or computer. And the artist gets 70 per cent of the purchase price,” he said.

Mr Bird said he would explain to guests how the Yulngu app works and the meaning of its logo: “The Land. The Art. The Experience. Everyday”.

“I am excited and nervous at the same time,” he said.

His brother Gary Bird will MC the event, with his son Nathan, a rap artist under the name Birdz, will perform.

Maroochy Barambah, an Aboriginal mezzo-soprano singer, of the Turrbal-Gubbi Gubbi people and a member of the Stolen Generations, will perform the traditional welcome.

Mr Bird said he would outline how the next stage of the program would be to put the artists through a special certified training course to enable them to set up as a small business with their own ABN.

That will be done in conjunction with another Collaborate resident, non-profit organisation Impact Academy and its Managing Director Peter Ball.

“Impact Academy is thrilled to be working with Glenn in supporting the development of Yulngu. The Yulngu app will be incredibly beneficial for indigenous artists throughout Australia, particularly those in remote and rural locations,” he said.

CCIQ CEO Stephen Tait said he was delighted to be supporting small businesses and helping indigenous artists gain recognition and reward for their craft.

“This is a great project with enormous potential and CCIQ is only too happy to help,” he said.

All media are welcome to attend the December 8 launch of the Yulngu app.


Solving problems. Building businesses. About Collaborate.

In a unique approach to helping businesses to start-up, accelerate and innovate, the state’s leading business group, a global start-up incubator, a social enterprise accelerator and the state’s leading financial services provider have partnered to create Collaborate, a unique accelerator challenging entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to solve the problems of small business. For more information on Collaborate, visit:


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