Artback NT: Showcasing Northern Territory artists to global audiences

From visual artists to musicians, theatre performers and dancers, Artback NT propels creatives onto the international stage while connecting remote communities to the national art sector.
Artback NT: Showcasing Northern Territory artists to global audiences

Photo by Benjamin Warlngundu Bayliss.  

Sharing Territory stories beyond local parameters, Artback NT collaborates with Northern Territory artists to develop and tour unique works, propelling them into the national and international spotlight.

From visual arts to performing arts (dance, theatre and music), to traditional and contemporary Indigenous dance, Artback NT has toured to 2.7 million audience members world-wide.


‘We take the work beyond initial ideas, beyond first presentations and tour it locally, regionally, nationally or internationally,’ Louise Partos, Executive Officer, Artback NT, told ArtsHub.

However, it’s not only touring support that Artback NT provides, they also activate cultural programs for the region.

Opening up opportunities

A unique opportunity Artback NT offers is the Taiwan – Australia: Indigenous Artist in Residence Program.

‘These are cultural exchanges we are proud of,’ Partos said. ‘We take Northern Territory Indigenous artists to Taiwan and we take Taiwanese artists to the Territory, enabling conversations. The exchanges are genuine interactions and connections. These experiences are an absolute joy.’

Artback NT’s focus is not only on exposing Territory artists to national and international audiences but its focus is also about bringing remote communities distinct opportunities.

One of the programs on offer is the SPARK NT Curator program, which awards an emerging curator with $10,000 to deliver their first exhibition.

‘We specifically respond to gaps within the sector,’ Partos said. ‘Our Artists on Tour programs is about utilising Territory artists to deliver a whole range of workshops to schools, after school care, aged care facilities, and community centres.’

‘We take NT artists to remote or very remote communities across the Territory which were not offering any workshops, any skills development, or any training.’

The Artists on Tour program offers rich experiences such as: Journey through Dance with Jinu Mathew; The Circus Toolkit with Andrea Cooper; Improvised Theatre with Gail Evans, and many others.

Partos explained, ‘Art was just not on the curriculum – there wasn’t a broader artists in residency program to support activities in schools. It’s really about identifying those gaps,’ she said.

Photo by Benjamin Warlngundu Bayliss.  

Artback NT’s dedication to delivering unique experiences to remote communities has seen them travel to 437 locations across the Northern Territory, including 141 Indigenous communities.

‘No one else does that, no one else goes off the beaten track – people might tour to Darwin or to Alice but we genuinely try and have that broader conversation across the Territory.’

Acknowledged as one of the leaders in best-practice models for community engagement, Partos said building close relationships with communities was key to creating powerful opportunities.

'It is so much about relationships that are built up over time. Work takes time to percolate, and relationships take time to build.’

After eleven years at the helm of Artback NT, Partos knows that the work they do is ongoing.

When asked what the future looks like for this ambitious organisation, she said it was about continuing to empower the region ‘and to absolutely delight audiences across multiple art forms’.

‘We want to continue to tour locally, nationally and internationally. We want to continue to offer transformative arts experiences, and connect the rest of Australia with the absolutely unique artistic work that is happening and being produced up here,’ Partos concluded.

To learn more about Artback NT visit:

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Andrea Simpson

Thursday 21 March, 2019

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy