How to… Support Charities and Nonprofits in the Arts Sector with Sue Roff

Sue Roff has decades of experience working within the public art sector working with the Australia Business Arts Foundation, the Public Galleries Association of Victoria, and is currently the outgoing Executive Director of Arts Project Australia (APA). Over her 13 years in this role, she has firmly cemented APA as a leading Victorian arts organisation.

Sue Roff

How would you briefly describe Arts Project Australia to a collector who has never heard of it?

Arts Project Australia is a leading Australian supported studio and gallery that represents and supports artists with intellectual disabilities, promotes their work, and advocates for their inclusion in the contemporary art sector. A vibrant creative social enterprise, our busy art studio in Northcote has over 150 artists develop their unique practice each week, while our public gallery at Collingwood Yards showcases APA artists’ work in a range of exhibitions throughout the year. As well as this, APA artists are exhibited in many prestigious galleries both nationally and internationally, and have work housed in a wide variety of private collections.  

Reflecting on your extensive experience representing and supporting art galleries, why do you think organisations like APA are so important to the arts and disability sectors? 

Artists with an intellectual disability have historically been underrepresented in Australian art despite the vibrancy and originality of their work. Over years of sustained advocacy, APA artists are now invited to exhibit and participate in galleries, museums, and art fairs across the world. When APA artists are recognised and valued within the community it opens a positive conversation about creativity and neurodiversity. Organisations like ours play a vital part in not only supporting artists with disabilities, but also in driving inclusion across the visual arts sector.

What advice would you give to a collector who is looking to support a charity or non-profit in the arts sector? 

Just do it! The best way to support an artist is to buy their work and the second-best way to support an artist is to buy their work. Small independent organisations that support artists all need help to survive – whether that’s buying a unique piece for your collection or donating directly to the organisation – support at the grass roots is crucial. 

Who is an artist on your watch list right now, and why?

Daniel Pace is an APA artist whose practice is growing and flourishing, particularly his ceramic sculptures. His series of ceramic trophies that serve as homages to entertainment icons like Shirley Temple and Mickey Mouse sold extremely fast at Spring 1883 and there is a magnificent ceramic chess set in our stockroom that any collector would love.  

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We wish you all the best for the future, Sue! 

Banner Image: Sue and APA artist, Michael Trasancos in Arts Project studio | Photo: Kate Longley

October 2023