Actor and art collector Steve Martin has helped launched a fund to promote indigenous art culture in Australia.
The fund is called National Endowment for Indigenous Visual Arts (Neiva). It was primarily organized by D’Lan Davidson, a Melbourne-based gallerist who is considered a specialist in Australian Indigenous art. Bruno Rashcle, a Swiss private equity fund manager and ardent art collector, financially backed the fund and offered an initial investment. The creators hope that soon, the program will be sufficient enough to generate its own revenues. Currently, the D’Lan Contemporary (the Armdale gallery owned by Davidson) provides all art sellers an option to 2.5 percent of their earnings per work towards the cause. The gallery matches the amount to up to 5 percent. However, with the creation of this program, the gallery plans to donate 2.5-10 percent on all future sales towards the fund. A committee, which consists entirely of Aboriginal art leaders, will have complete autonomy in deciding how to use the funds.
For the indigenous community in Australia, art forms the primary non-governmental source of income. However, the current state of their art market is not sufficient for the indigenous artists to fulfill both their own needs and that of their community. The program aims to change that by creating a sustainable market for the indigenous artists both within Australia and outside. The program will also aim to educate the youth and offer mentoring to young indigenous artists with potential.
Steve Martin was introduced to Australian indigenous art when he acquired a fantastic work by legendary aboriginal artist Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri in 2015. Since then, he was been a voice for supporting the Australian indigenous art. In 2019, Martin organized an exhibition titled “Desert Painters of Australia” at Gagosian Gallery featuring many Australian indigenous artists.