Our history

Tobias Richardson, Basketball Centre (Love Whatever it Takes), Yuendumu, 2016, acrylic on perspex, 127x70cm

Artback NT was born out of a need to further develop and nurture art and culture in the Northern Territory. Constituted in 1994, under the Northern Territory Associations Act (amended 2004), Artback NT is a not for profit association that currently receives funding from the Northern Territory Government through Arts NT and from the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council for the Arts. Artback NT is also proactive in leveraging income through strategic partnerships with the corporate sector and other government agencies such as Catalyst – Australian Arts and Culture Fund.

Artback NT is the National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) agency for the Northern Territory and, in 1998, became the Territory’s peak visual and performing arts touring organisation through an amalgamation with Circuit North. The unique environment of the Northern Territory resulted in the development of a touring model responsive to the cultural and geographic diversity of the region. The new model maximised the potential of alternative venues and called on innovative solutions to provide meaningful access to performing and visual arts for the remote communities we service.

Acknowledging our Territory-wide brief, Artback NT opened a dedicated visual arts office in Alice Springs during 2003. Maintaining an office in the second largest town in the Territory, in addition to our office in Darwin, is not only important to understanding and valuing local needs, but also illustrates our ongoing commitment to the region and our genuine desire to engage with our community.

Further, in direct response to community need, we established the three-year Indigenous Traditional Dance Program in Alice Springs in 2007. The success of this program saw the model adapted for Tennant Creek (2010-2012) and Borroloola (2013-2015). The program included an annual public showcase event DanceSite, which has become a community highlight whilst also providing training and job opportunities for locals. Since 2016 ITDP has been based in the communities of Borroloola and Numbulwar.

In addition to visual and performing arts, Artback NT partnered with Music NT in 2010 for the delivery of a three-year Indigenous music touring initiative. Artback NT delivered and managed this initiative independently from 2012.

In 2013 a third office was established in Borroloola, in the Territory’s northeast. This demonstration of continued local presence has further consolidated our commitment to active engagement and our vision of building the capacity of isolated communities.

Artback NT continues to strengthen and enrich the arts and cultural lives of people from all regions of Australia. Since 1996, Artback NT has toured to every State and Territory and reached audiences of over 2.76 million. In 2021 and beyond we want to stimulate the international appetite for Indigenous culture and create opportunities for Territory artists to engage with new audiences, enrich their cultural lives and showcase our Territory stories.