Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2020: The Cultural Evolution

Cairns-Indigenous-Art-Fair-2019-photo-Kerry-Trapnell-PhotographyIn unveiling its 2020 program of events that will utilise an innovative, online format, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair has invited the world to attend its annual showcase of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture this August.

In the spirit of its 10 year tradition, CIAF 2020 – The Cultural Evolution is a digital translation of its physical event program that in this 11th iteration is bookended by opening and closing ceremonies with a series of live stream presentations, performances, webinars, workshops, community spotlights, conversations and virtual gallery exhibitions rolling out over 10 days between Friday 14 August and Sunday 23 August 2020.

CIAF’s Artistic Director Janina Harding said this year’s program is so much more than a series of events that can be embraced, engaged with and enjoyed online, but at a profound level is a reflection of First Peoples’ resilience and survival skills.

“From the outset of pandemic restrictions CIAF as an organisation, was asking what it could do to continue supporting artists and communities who have come to rely on the event,” said Ms Harding. “For Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, CIAF plays an integral role in cultural sharing, understanding and in particular, artists’ social, emotional and economic welfare.

“After making the decision to go online we have confronted a number of challenges along the way but have also had great support from the community and especially, our funding partners who have joined with us and are also really excited to present CIAF in its digital format.”

According to Ms Harding, this new era for CIAF has presented fresh opportunities and ways of doing things that she believes will be a legacy they carry on in future events.

“We have been speaking regularly with the Mayors of Far North Queensland’s councils, artists and the Torres Strait Regional Authority who are all very positive while also working with a number of new and different businesses than we normally would from videographers and producers to those who specialise in virtual technology,” said Ms Harding..

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the digital delivery for CIAF 2020 was an inspiring way to enjoy the festival in what has been a challenging year for the arts community. “I am excited to share the talent and creativity of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and performers with a potential worldwide audience, through this innovative online format,” said Minister Enoch.

“The Palaszczuk Government has acted swiftly to implement more than $20 million in funding relief measures for artists and arts workers impacted by COVID-19, with the sustainability of the sector and continued employment a priority.”

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s program begins on Friday 14 August with an Opening Night program of presentations and entertainment hosted by actor and writer, Elaine Crombie.

Highlights from CIAF 2020 – The Cultural Evolution include two virtual art exhibitions; the Climate Change themed Art Fair and Under Currents – Cook 2020, performances from Kuranda’s favourite hip-hop, reggae band, Zennith, and other local Indigenous musicians, community spotlights from across the Cape and Torres Strait Islands and weaving workshops.

The program will also feature conversations with topics that include the artistic response to this year’s art exhibition, fashion performance and Indigenous Tourism, Climate Change themed Symposium, children’s storytelling, art markets, Water is Sacred fashion performance, comedy with Sean Choolburra and annual Art Awards including the Premier’s Award for Excellence.

CIAF 2020 – The Cultural Evolution runs from Friday 14 August to Sunday 23 August. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2019 – photo by Kerry Trapnell Photography