Canberra arts worker in NGA’s Indigenous leadership program

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A CANBERRA arts worker was one of the artists to graduate from the National Gallery of Australia’s Indigenous Arts Leadership Program for 2015.

Sophia Nampitjimpa Sambono
Sophia Nampitjimpa Sambono

Sophia Nampitjimpa Sambono was one of ten participants who had the chance to see behind the scenes at the gallery to gain a comprehensive insight into how a major national cultural institution operates.

The ten-day program, hosted for the sixth time by the NGA and supported by Wesfarmers, was designed to increase Indigenous leadership within the visual arts sector. Each year, ten candidates are selected for a short-term Leadership Program and two additional candidates are selected for the Indigenous Fellowships.

“The Indigenous visual arts landscape is changing as more and more Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people enter the sector,” says Franchesca Cubillo, ?senior curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, adding, “There are currently 64 graduates of our program, some of whom have gone onto become Curators, Conservators, Arts Administrators, Public Relations and Marketing Consultants and Exhibition Installers.”

“I have no doubt that this talented group will pave the way for other Indigenous Australians working in arts management,” Helen Carroll, manager of Wesfarmers Arts says.

Sambono attended workshops on industry practice such as copyright law, arts marketing, conservation and exhibition design and much more. NGA curators provided her and the other participants with tours of the Pacific, Asian, International, Australian, Portrait and Photography Galleries and she had career mapping sessions with NGA staff.

Sambono is a Jingili/Irish/Scottish woman whose grandmother was a member of the stolen generation taken from her desert home of Newcastle Waters to Kahlin compound in Darwin.

Always been passionate about art, she went on to study screen production, then museums and collections, joining the National Film and Sound Archive, where she is now a curator of the Indigenous collections.

“I would love to segue my career into more arts and creative industries,” Sambono says.

The 2015 NGA Indigenous Arts Leadership participants were:

  • Shannon Brett, Manager Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct, QLD
  • Jo-Anne Driessens, Senior Arts & Culture Project Officer, The City of Gold Coast, QLD
  • Elizabeth Liddle, Manager, Indigenous Programs, Creative Victoria, VIC
  • Marisa Maher, Admin Art Assistant, Ngurratjuta Many Hands, NT
  • Aaron McTaggart, Deputy CEO, Merrepen Arts, NT
  • Danelle Nicol, Communications & Marketing Manager, UMI Arts, QLD
  • Aven Noah, Gallery Officer, Gab Titui Cultural Centre, QLD
  • April Phillips, Project Officer, Freshwater Saltwater Alliance, NSW
  • Sophia Sambono, Curator, Indigenous Connections, NFSA, ACT
  • Kathleen Toomath, Grants & Program Officer for the Department of Culture, WA


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Helen Musa
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