A Brief History of TAFTA

While The Australian Forum for Textile Arts, Ltd (TAFTA) became an actual company in 1987, it was born as early as 1974 at a meeting held at Sturt Crafts Centre, Mittagong, New South Wales. Twenty-five people attended, a main topic for discussion was the lack of trained textile teachers in the crafts. Six formative years followed, with other gatherings taking place, and many topics being discussed; then Brisbane hosted FORUM ’80, concentrating on workshops, and communication among a wide variety of textile crafts people.

A number of things resulted from this conference, including the decision to go ahead with a magazine, ‘Fibre Forum’, subsequently titled Textile Fibre Forum, which originally came out twice a year; then three times a year; then moved to colour (1987) and then became quarterly in 2000. Textile Fibre Forum celebrated its 100th issue in November 2010.

With the November issue #104, ownership of Textile Fibre Forum transferred to ArtWear Publications. Janet De Boer ceased to have editorial involvement with issue #118, published in June 2015.

Since those early days there have been many more developments including, in 1987, the actual formation of a not-for-profit arts company limited by guarantee (The Australian Forum for Textiles Arts Ltd) and legally structured according to ASIC regulations, with a Board of Directors and an employee (with the title of ‘Executive Director’, although the E.D. does not sit on the board). The liability of any one member of the company is limited to $15.00. The purpose of the company is to promote the textile arts; and, like all non-profits, this means that money raised through the activities of the company is to be used for that purpose in a very obvious and carefully audited manner.

As well, ‘FORUM’ conferences continued: Halls Gap in 1982; Canberra in 1984; Tamworth in 1987; Wollongong in 1989, with various committees staging these week-long events. Eventually TAFTA Ltd settled on Frensham School in Mittagong NSW as the home of an annual FORUM, and encouraged Regional FORUMs through a policy of auspicing developed in collaboration with Peggy Buckingham of Western Australia, the first person to stage a Regional FORUM.

The Mittagong FORUM continued for 14 years, until that ‘April’ event moved to Kinross-Wolaroi School in Orange NSW in 2005 where the ‘April FORUM in Orange’ was run successfully at Kinross-Wolaroi School for 7 years. It then moved to the Blue Mountains of NSW and was re-branded as the CONTEXTART FORUM. Commencing in 2015, Vanessa Taylor of Glenbrook NSW began to operate CONTEXTART as its general manager, with assistance from TAFTA Ltd (but as her own business): www.contextart.com.au

For the year 2000, to celebrate the new Millenium and TAFTA Ltd’s forward progress, the Board decided to make the magazine quarterly, and to develop a second annual FORUM at Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, as part of its brief to promote the textile arts, and in an effort to generate enough income for a more stable employee situation for the company. The tenth anniversary of The Geelong FORUM occurred in spring of 2009, with TAFTA Ltd fully able to celebrate a wonderful achievement there – and needing to consider its options for the future.

TAFTA Ltd continued to operate ‘The Geelong FORUM’ until October of 2014 at which time it moved to ‘Tafta Inc’ a not-for-profit association managed by Larissa Murdock and Bronni Packwood. They very capably ran the Geelong Fibre Forums for 2015 and 2016 and released their 2017 program on December 1st, 2016: www.taftainc.com.au

In 2008, The Board of TAFTA Ltd took the decision that TAFTA Ltd would no longer directly auspice Regional FORUMs but would make the E.D.’s expertise available on an advisory basis, within reason. Partially this was in recognition of the growing strength of textile events around the country. You can consult the News & Events page on this website and find any current details under the listings for the relevant state(s). Each month, towards the beginning of the month, the News & Events page is updated with listings for workshops, exhibitions, etc. coming up in Australia; scroll through it state by state to find what may be of particular interest to you. As well a regular e-newsletter has now commenced and you are very welcome to subscribe at no cost; see the Home Page.

These services will continue even though TAFTA Ltd was formally de-registered with ASIC on 2 November 2016. ‘TAFTA’ now stands for The Australian Forum for Textile Arts but it it not a company or association – just a name. Gallery 159 has ceased to operate.

The TAFTA Ltd archive has been accepted by the State Library of Queensland where it will be housed in the James Hardie Library.