Indigenous artists to run their own small businesses with app

Thursday 11 August, 2016

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

Mr Bird is a resident of CCIQ’s innovation and accelerator hub Collaborate in Brisbane and has launched an app, Yulngu, to assist indigenous artists catalogue and sell their work.

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.

Mr Bird said he was very excited about the potential for the app and the benefit to indigenous artists. It will be launched this month.

“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, as app designer and developer, and business mentor for the artists, will get up to 30 per cent.

He said 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.

“It will provide an immediate connection to any consumers seeking authentic quality art and will also provide an innovative providence platform to create a secondary marketplace that ensures artists are rewarded as art continues to change hands into the future.

“Impact Academy's expertise in supporting early stage enterprises to start and scale has been applied to achieving success in various indigenous enterprises already and we are excited by quality and quantity of indigenous owned enterprises that are emerging.

“Glenn's efforts in developing Yulngu are impressive and we look forward to helping him launch and scale the app to achieve significant and measurable outcomes for indigenous artists moving forward.”

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.

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