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Arts Worker
Extension Program

Franchesca Cubillo, Senior Curator Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia mentoring ANKA Arts Worker Extension Program 2016 participants.
Yolgnu (Aboriginal people) and Balanda (non-Aboriginal people) can train working together. There must be two-way learning. Because we are learning from one another. Sharing ideas together. Trying to help each other. Make Art Centres strong and grow.
— Ruth Nalmakarra, ANKA Special Advisor.


ANKA’s Arts Worker Extension Program (AWEP) is the leading professional development and career pathways program for Aboriginal arts workers from remote communities in Northern Australia. 

The program addresses key Indigenous employment and training needs in community Art Centres, strengthens Aboriginal workforce participation, and builds Indigenous arts leadership nationally. 

By providing tailored professional development and targeted training, and opening up career pathways for Aboriginal arts workers, the program strengthens the cultural and artistic vibrancy, and operation and governance of Indigenous arts and cultural enterprises.

The highly successful first stage of AWEP, developed and delivered by ANKA in partnership with major cultural and education institutions nationally over six years (from 2011 to 2016), produced outstanding results.

50 Aboriginal arts workers from 24 remote community Art Centres participated in and graduated from the program, and a network of highly skilled Aboriginal arts leaders now connects remote communities across the Top End.

After extensive evaluation and consultation, in 2019 ANKA has embarked on the next stage of AWEP featuring two new, updated professional development streams — the AWEP Foundation Program and the AWEP Pathways Program.

Rachael Morris, DJ Marika, Deborah Wurrkidj, Selina Gallagher, Jimmy Mungatopi, Serena Pinday, arts worker mentor Evangeline Wilson, Mally Pindan, Rhoda Hammer and Kieren McTaggart outside of Parliament House, Canberra 2014.
Evangeline Wilson with Tina Baum, Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013.

AWEP Foundation Program

The ANKA Arts Worker Extension Program (AWEP) Foundation Program is an intensive vocational education program for Aboriginal arts workers from Top End Art Centres looking to learn new skills, expand their professional networks, advance their career and increase their participation in the wider arts industry. 

The Foundation Program’s updated curriculum and delivery model aims to equip participants with the tools, knowledge, networks and confidence they need to undertake higher education, accredited training and leadership roles in the future.

Participants in the AWEP Foundation Program take part in:

Throughout the program participants use digital technology to develop their professional communication skills, expand their networks, build audiences, perform workplace tasks and advance their careers.

AWEP Pathways Program

Replacing the original AWEP Graduate Program, the new AWEP Pathways Program is an ongoing career development and support service connecting Graduates from all AWEP Programs to accredited training and higher education, and other ongoing professional development opportunities.

ANKA is partnering with education institutions and registered training organisations to develop new University courses and accredited training programs which cater to the evolving needs of AWEP Graduates.

Courses and accredited training programs are being developed in key areas such as Conservation, Arts Management and Curatorial Studies so AWEP Graduates can attain recognised qualifications and use these to advance their careers.

Higher Education Pilot programs are being designed so AWEP Graduates can complete intensive study with their peers, in manageable blocks, and take new skills and qualifications back to their communities to benefit their Art Centres.

Alongside higher education programs, ANKA will continue to develop and deliver a range of in-house professional development programs for AWEP Graduates, to be delivered in Darwin and in remote community Art Centres across the Top End.

Higher Education Pilot

In 2018 ANKA successfully piloted the ‘Specialist Certificate in Cross-Cultural Conservation and Heritage’ at the University of Melbourne in partnership with the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and Trinity College.

The pilot, part of the AWEP Pathways Program, involved 9 AWEP Graduates completing a two-week program of conservation lectures and practical tutorials at the University of Melbourne whilst living on campus at Trinity College.

The pilot was designed to give AWEP Graduates the opportunity to further develop expertise in the field of conservation and to enhance local management of important cultural collections. It also aimed to provide a model for the development and delivery of tailored accredited higher education for Aboriginal Arts Workers from remote communities.

Participants attended study preparation briefings in Darwin en-route to Melbourne and have delivered skill-sharing workshops in their own community Art Centres since their return.

Graduates of the pilot have gained a professional qualification, experienced higher education in a tailored, supportive environment and further developed their leadership and mentoring skills.


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