Any person in the two communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi can engage with the activities of the art centre. Anyone who does engage is referred to as an ‘artist’ whether they have just started painting or have been painting for many years.
Artists actively participate in the ongoing development of the organisation. The management of the art centre works hard to create a space where the artists feel safe, comfortable and happy to come together to paint and share their knowledge. There are over 600 artists currently participating. Some come every day and some may do only one or two paintings a year.
People also come from other nearby outlying communities, Yuelumu, Laramba, Willowra and Alice Springs to sell craft items through the centre. If people from any of these communities are in Yuendumu visiting family they are also welcome to participate in the art centre.
Visitors to the art centre often ask why Aboriginal people paint. There are many reasons, the primary ones being:
- To engage in a social activity
- To have a meaningful daily activity
- To keep traditional culture alive
- To transmit culture to the younger generations
- To share their culture with the wider community, both nationally and internationally
- To earn additional income
- To gain acknowledgement, respect and pride
It is not uncommon to find several generations of one family at the art centre at any one time, grandparents painting with their grandchildren. In this way the younger generations are being instructed in the stories and designs of their traditional culture. Frequently the older artists can be heard singing the songs associated with the story they are painting. It is often said that by the very act of painting traditional Indigenous culture is being reinvigorated and kept alive.