The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) was established by the Queensland Government as a strategic initiative of the Backing Indigenous Arts program in 2009. In order for CIAF to reach its full potential the event transitioned to independent status, outside of the auspices of the Queensland Government. A task force was established and in 2013 CIAF became a corporate entity.
CIAF Ltd is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, governed by a Board of Directors. The membership of the skills-based Board continues to progress its focus on an increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation.
CIAF Ltd continues to be supported by both Federal and State Government funding, but also actively seeks philanthropic and sponsorship partnerships.
The CIAF Collectors and Curators program facilitates meetings with artists, leading to acquisitions for private and public collections around the globe. Over the years representatives of many esteemed institutions (including the National Gallery of Australia, Australian National Maritime Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Auckland Art Gallery, University of Washington, National Gallery of Canada, Harvard University Art Museum, and Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia) have made purchases from CIAF.
CIAF enjoys extremely high visitor satisfaction rates, with 98 percent of visitors, artists and exhibitors rating the experience as and 'excellent' or 'good'. 90 percent of participants agree that CIAF increased their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultures.
CIAF's patronage and team has a rich history also, with the former, inaugural Co-Patrons being the 25th Governor of Queensland, The Hon. Penelope Wensley AC, and Australia's pre-eminent ceramicist, Dr. Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James AO. Former Artistic Directors include Michael Snelling, Avril Quaill and Janina Harding.