Maruku Arts slow shut down

What do we do now? How long will this last? Are our old people going to make it through this? These are the questions I have been asking myself over the last few days. Everyday there is a new announcement. Don’t go here, shut down this and don’t even think about crossing a border. Two weeks ago, Maruku was looking at having its best tourism season yet! Last year we put $1.5 million dollars into 22 different communities across the central and western deserts. We were looking at upping that this year by at least another $200,000. But on Tuesday the 17th of March 2020 we made the decision to stop all tours for the safety of Anangu. This saw the loss of 8 staff and dramatically reduced the hours of others. The $6090 weekly payment to Anangu tour guides came to an abrupt halt. Our retail gallery, which is in the Cultural Centre within Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, needed to encourage Anangu artists to stay at home for their own safety. Meaning that demo artists who get paid an hourly wage also lost their source of income. Today, on the 25th of March 2020, the federal government announced that galleries must now be closed. The Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park board of directors have also made the necessary decision to close the park. The remainder of our staff have now become obsolete.
What do we do now? Our commitment is to our artists. How are we going to support them during these hard times? Do we just curl up in a ball, turn on Netflix and hope this all blows over quickly? No! We are stronger than that! This 35 year old Aboriginal owned non-for-profit was set up on the back of giants, legends. We owe it to them to do everything within our power to hold this company together and help protect Anangu culture. So, how do we do that? Well, we are all stuck in community together, so why not make the most of it. Today we are making bush medicine to give out to everyone in community. We are banding together with the other services in Mutitjulu to ensure Anangu stay safe and fed. Our staff who have found themselves with reduced hours have approached the Mutitjulu shop to help with the growing demands. In a few weeks, if it has come to pass that Covid-19 has not made it’s way into community, we will be setting up bush trips. We will be teaming up with Central Land Council, Mutitjulu community and Rise Nguratjuta, to take Anangu back onto their homelands where they can once again share tjukurpa (creation stories), teach the children how to once again live off the land, go hunting and make traditional tools. Let’s get back to basics. Let’s use this time constructively. Let’s be proud of what we do.
Check out our insta page for images of the Bush Medicine being made and distributed to community. If you would like to help Maruku get through these uncertain times, please check out our upcoming Chuffed page. We know this is a tough time for everyone and we hope you are all staying safe and healthy. Dahna Edwards