Australia’s premier Indigenous art fair turns to SurePact for innovative project management solutions


The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) – a major not-for-profit event – is continuing to forge new pathways for artists and performers, as well as innovative and streamlined project management processes with SurePact’s software.

The client 

CIAF is a not-for-profit organisation that showcases the very best artworks, fashion designs and performances by Indigenous artists of Queensland. With a focus on offering an ethical art marketplace, CIAF attracts national and international collectors and curators, commissions new work and provides pathways and professional development opportunities for emerging visual and performance artists. 

Models adorned with Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre wearable ghostnet designs, Photo by Cristina Bevilacqua, Courtesy Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.
Image credit: Models adorned with Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre wearable ghostnet designs, Photo by Cristina Bevilacqua, Courtesy Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

CIAF was established by the Queensland Government as a strategic initiative of the Backing Indigenous Arts program in 2009. The CIAF has since transitioned to independent status, though, maintains valued support from both Commonwealth and State Government funding. In addition to this funding, CIAF actively seeks philanthropic and sponsorship partnerships to grow the myriad of program offerings, to provide new opportunities for Indigenous creatives going forward.

The problem 

As the organisation grows (with the initiation of the CIAF Evolution Project traineeship program and the welcoming of new team members), the need for CIAF to implement a more streamlined process for tracing activity around project delivery phases became apparent.

CIAF General Manager, Darrell Harris, says the organisation was looking to a “new way of doing things” with a focus on ensuring such processes could be accessible to all, including external contractors, artists, performers, and other stakeholders. 

“Everyone here is very capable and works very hard, but we didn’t have any software that encompassed and intertwined each person’s role, so we could track where each member of the team was at and provide support for them, if needed. That’s where I saw a gap that needed to be filled.”

The solution 

After seeing the SurePact software in action in a previous role, Harris recognised that it could be what CIAF had been looking for.

In December 2020, CIAF Project Coordinator, Megsi O’Toole, became the first member of the team to be trained and mentored in the use of SurePact. Quickly becoming proficient in administering the solution, she has since trained her colleagues to use the software.

O’Toole says CIAF has begun using SurePact’s grant management module to manage all lifecycle stages of grant delivery, centrally housing all contracts, documents and information related to a grant in one location, with a robust audit trail.

“As an organisation, we rely on grants to facilitate everything we do,” O’Toole says. “So inputting those grants into SurePact – having an overview of all the money coming into the organisation in one place, and a high-level understanding of which milestones need to be hit and when  – has been very beneficial.” 

With intelligent and customisable workflows, built-in analytics and real-time reporting dashboards, SurePact is helping CIAF to streamline all project activities into one place ahead of this year’s events (which are to be held from 17-22 August, 2021). 

“Internally, all of our staff have access to SurePact, and are currently using it to track their projects on a day-to-day basis,” O’Toole says. “So even in the month that we’ve been using SurePact, it’s really helped to clarify people’s roles,” she says. 

“Closer to the event, we’ll have our PR and marketing teams, artists, performers, event management, security – hundreds of external contractors – using SurePact to collaborate, as well as key stakeholders like the Cairns Convention Centre and Cairns Regional Council.

“SurePact’s functionality is simple, but there’s a depth of features – we’re still discovering all the things it can do for us, like the Asset Management register and lots more, which SurePact are helping to tailor to our unique needs.” 

O’Toole says she wouldn’t hesitate to recommend SurePact to other not-for-profit organisations looking for a grant and project management solution. 

“I would highly recommend it, especially if they’re currently operating off of multiple spreadsheets,” she says. “To have everyone working on the one platform, to enable that collaboration across the organisation – it’s just been such a game changer for us.”


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