Four Year Funding Decision Making Process

Four Year Funding Process: decision making process, eligibility, criteria and asessment

The decision making process for Four Year Funding applications has a number of phases which are being undertaken between December 2015 and May 2016.

Arts practice panels of expert peers were developed in preparation for the Four Year Funding assessment process and these were approved by the Australia Council Board through its Nominations and Appointments Committee.

Phase 1: December 2015 – January 2016

  • Application deadline 1 December
  • Applications were received and processed and then made available to peer assessors in late December.
  • The peer assessors were inducted and briefed on all elements of the process and the criteria against which they assessed the applications.

Phase 2:  February – March 2016

  • The peers on each arts practice panel independently assessed the applications in their area of practice against the selection criteria for the category and entered scores into our online grants assessment system.
  • The assessment panel in each arts practice area then met to deliberate and determine a priority ranking for each application. These deliberations were supported by Australia Council staff who facilitated the meetings and by our Arts Practice Directors who provided context and background information. The peer assessors then gave further consideration to the cohort of competitive applications through the lens of our Four Year Funding Portfolio Framework. The priority ranking of applications was then refined further by the peer assessors, giving consideration to how an organisation and its strategic plan would benefit the arts practice ecology, including the impact of Australia Council funding on the organisation.
  • AssessmentCriteria
  • The recommendations of each arts practice assessment panel are then moderated as a whole across arts practice areas by an Industry Advisory Panel. This panel will comprise a representative from every arts practice assessment panel and the CEO of the Australia Council. The Industry Advisory Panel will provide further recommendations to the Council’s Executive on the allocation of the available budget. It will not adjust the rankings of the individual arts practice assessment panels.

Phase 3: April – May 2016

  • The Australia Council Executive team will then consider the advice of the Industry Advisory Panel and the alignment of the recommended cohort of organisations with Council’s strategic goals before making final recommendations on the allocation of the budget to the Board. 
  • The recommendations regarding the budget allocation will be presented to the Australia Council Board for final approval in late April.
  • Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application under embargo during the week of May 9.

Closing date

Applications for this program have currently closed and will open again in 2019.

The application process includes the submission of a five-year strategic plan. You can read the Australia Council's Strategic Plan Framework here.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application in early May 2016. 

Who can apply

We accept applications from organisations.

The Australia Council requires that organisations be registered under law (for example, incorporated association or company limited by guarantee) or created by law. Organisations that are not legally constituted are not eligible to apply. Organisations may be required to provide a certificate of incorporation or evidence of their current legal status.

Applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts organisations can choose to be assessed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts assessment panel or another arts practice panel.

Applications for funding to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts panel must come from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.  Organisations must have 51% Indigenous governance at the time of application. Organisations must have 100% Indigenous governance within 12 months of funding being awarded if the application for Four Year Funding is successful.

Who can’t apply

You can’t apply for a grant if:

  • you received a grant, or administered a grant, from the Australia Council in the past and that grant has not been satisfactorily acquitted
  • you owe money to the Australia Council
  • you were successful in the previous round.

What you can’t apply for

You can’t apply for the following activity:

  • activities that do not involve or benefit practicing artists or arts workers
  • activities that do not have a clearly defined arts component
  • activities that have already taken place.

Peer assessment

For a list of peer assessors click here.

As part of the application process, you will be able to choose which peer panel you want to assess your application.  The peer panels available are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts
  • Community Arts and Cultural Development
  • Dance
  • Emerging and Experimental Arts
  • Literature
  • Multi-art form
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts.

If you are unable to choose which peer panel assesses your application, you can have a discussion with Australia Council staff.

Please note that applications for funding to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts panel must come from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

Application process

Applications will be made using the Australia Council’s online system and will include the following:

  • an application form
  • a Strategic Plan
  • a year's program
  • a draft program for the following year
  • three URLs (a website link on the internet) that directly link to recent examples of your organisation’s work. This can include current programs and key artistic activity
  • a budget (the budget template used by existing multi-year funded organisations is available here)
  • audited accounts (or financial statements) for the last two years as a URL or attachment.

The application form will cover the following:

  • peer panel selection
  • organisation type
  • a summary of the organisation’s Four Year vision (approx. 500 words)
  • a brief description of the organisation (approx. 500 words)
  • a brief summary of the organisation’s key achievements over the last three years (approx. 300 words)
  • a list of current Board members
  • a list of key people in your organisation
  • past financial information
  • projected financial information for three years
  • a grant request between $75,000 and $300,000 per year.

Application Assessment Process

Applications will be assessed by expert arts practice peer assessment panels.

Once the expert peers have assessed the applications against the criteria published below, they will consider organisations in contention for funding in their arts practice against the Four Year Funding Portfolio Framework (see below).

One peer from each panel will then join a cross-art form panel to arrive at the final portfolio of organisations receiving funding across all areas of arts practice. This process will follow the peer assessment ranking and take the Four Year Funding Portfolio Framework into consideration.

Assessment Criteria

Expert peers will assess your application against the following three criteria.

To assess how well your full application meets our criteria, expert peers consider a number of prompts.  

Please note that not all of the prompts will apply to your full application, but that they are examples of the things our peers may consider.  

Organisations that deliver services to one of more areas of the arts with national impact can choose to have their application against ‘Artistic merit’ or ‘Quality of services to the arts’.

1. Artistic merit

Expert peers will assess the quality of your organisation’s artistic achievement and vision as described in your application.  

They may consider your organisation’s:

  • artistic vision and program of activities
  • support of great art and arts practice
  • support of artists and arts workers
  • development of audiences 
  • engagement with communities
  • contribution to a vibrant society and culture.

For further detail, please refer to the Australia Council’s Artistic Vibrancy Framework


   Quality of services to the arts 

Expert peers will assess the services to the arts delivered by your organisation.  

They may consider:

  • the benefit and relevance of your service to artists, arts organisations and their audiences
  • your organisation’s vision and program of activities
  • your organisation’s contribution to the sustainability of the arts sector
  • the range of any partnerships and cross-sectoral or community connections.

2. Organisational capacity

Expert peers will assess your organisation’s capacity to deliver its strategic plan.  

They may consider:

  • your strategic plan and how it delivers your vision and ambition
  • skills and ability of the key people involved
  • staffing and resource levels, including resource use 
  • appropriate governance and management arrangements, including succession planning
  • how you will measure your performance
  • diversity and scale of income and co-funding.

Where your organisation works with diverse artists, audiences or communities, peers will look for demonstrated cultural competencies, appropriateness and protocols for working with Indigenous artists.

3. Contribution to the Strategic Goals of the Australia Council

Expert peers will assess how your organisation’s strategic plan may contribute to one or more of the following goals:

  • Australian arts are without borders
  • Australia is known for its great art and artists
  • The arts enrich daily life for all
  • Australians cherish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.

For further detail, please refer to the Australia Council’s Strategic Plan 2014-2019

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