Visual Arts and Craft Strategy – National Priorities

Applications are now closed

Closing date: Tuesday 4 February 2020 (11:59pm AEDT), for activities starting from 1 January 2021. 

Technical and administrative support will not be available after 5pm on the closing date.

Applicant will be notified of the outcome by early April 2020.

This is an invitation only category for Australian visual arts organisations. 

About the program

The Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) delivers a nationally coordinated package of funding and support for the Australian contemporary visual arts sector that promotes creative work by living artists and craft practitioners, and the organisations that support their practice. More information on the VACS framework and objectives is available here.

National priority funding delivers on Australian Government priorities and supports organisations and individuals that demonstrate their contribution to meeting the objectives of VACS at a national level, while also demonstrating the value they add to states and territories.

The funding can support organisations who:

  • demonstrate national leadership through exceptional and consistent achievement of the VACS objectives
  • deliver nationally-significant activities focused in a particular jurisdiction
  • provide benefits across the national visual arts and crafts sector in terms of international engagement, First Nations, audience engagement and sector capacity.

This is an invitation only category for Australian visual arts organisations. The invited organisations, the amount they can apply for and the amount of funding awarded are determined by the Australia Council in consultation with the relevant state and territory arts funding agencies.


Who can apply

This is an invitation only category for Australian visual arts organisations. The invited organisations are determined by the Australia Council in consultation with the relevant State and Territory arts funding agencies.

Who can’t apply

You can’t apply for this grant if:

  • your organisation was not invited to apply
  • 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.

What can’t be applied for

You can’t apply for the following activity:

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

Assessment process

Your application will be reviewed by a panel of expert advisors from the visual arts sector against the criteria below. Their assessment of how well applicants meet these criteria will inform negotiations between the Australia Council and the relevant State or Territory arts funding agency, including the amount of funding to be awarded.

Assessment criteria

Your application will be reviewed against three assessment criteria. Under each criterion are bullet points indicating what peers may consider when assessing your application. You do not need to respond to every bullet point listed.

1. Artistic merit

Advisors will review the artistic merit of your proposal. They may consider:

  • the artistic quality and diversity of the activities described in your proposal
  • your regional, national or international reputation for artistic excellence
  • evidence of the national significance and leadership provided by your organisation in the visual arts sector
  • your demonstrated commitment to partnerships across the sector and information sharing as part of a national network
  • evidence of audience engagement and access to touring exhibitions.
2. Viability

Advisors will review the viability of your proposal. They may consider:

  • the financial viability of your organisation, the strategic plan and program of activities
  • your capacity to maximise revenue from a range of sources including sponsorship and philanthropic support
  • strong governance and strategic planning, including the experience of the people leading your organisation.
3. Contribution to one or more of the VACS objectives

Advisors will review your contribution to one or more of the VACS objectives. They may consider how your proposal:

  • Deepens audience engagement – through critical discussion about individual artists and works; new approaches to audience engagement and market development, including the use of digital and online platforms; enhanced international engagement; high quality touring exhibitions and events.
  • Expands markets and enhance international connections – through market exposure and opportunities to leverage private sector support, including a particular focus on strengthening the profile of Australian arts and craft practitioners in international markets through activities such as residencies, exhibitions and fellowships.
  • Ensures opportunities for Australian contemporary visual artists – through funding to create new work and support innovation and a diversity of practice; provide professional development opportunities; and support for artist run initiatives.
  • Provides professional support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists – through funding to Indigenous visual arts industry service organisations and other visual arts organisation as needed to address service delivery gaps, enhance creative practice and provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts workers.
  • Builds stronger, more resilient arts and craft organisations – through business stability that drives stronger governance, innovation and art-form development, and major events and exhibitions.Shape

Application form

Organisations invited to apply to this category can access the application form online here.

The types of questions we ask in the application form include:

  • Whether you report on a calendar or financial year basis
  • Your Project title and summary
  • A description of your organisation and key achievements (2,400 characters)
  • A description of the activities the VACS funding will support, and an overview of how you will allocate the funding (7,500 characters)
  • An explanation of how these activities meet one or more of the VACS objectives (7,500 characters).Shape

Support material

You are required to submit support material with your application. The industry advisors may review this support material to help them gain a better sense of your organisation and proposal. If you need advice on what type of support material to submit, please contact the grants team.

You should provide:

  • Up to three URLs (web links) that best demonstrate your organisation’s artistic output and leadership in the visual arts sector. These URLs may link to video, audio, images and written material.
  • A strategic plan that covers most of the VACS funding contract period from 2021 to 2024, uploaded as a written document (Word, PDF). The plan should be no more than 20 pages. A guide on refreshing or developing your strategic plan is available in PDF or RTF format.
  • The two most recent sets of certified or audited accounts – if you report on a calendar year basis, please provide accounts for 2017 and 2018; if you report on a financial year basis, please provide 2017/18 and 2018/19.
  • A detailed program of activities for 2020 (or 2020/21 if you plan on a financial year basis), and an outline program of activities for 2021 (or 2021/22 if you plan on a financial year basis).

Our preferred method of receiving artistic support material is via URLs. You can submit up to three URLs, which may include video, audio, images and written material. Please note that these URLs can include a total of:

  • 10 minutes of video and/or audio recording 
  • 10 images 
  • 10 pages of written material.

If you cannot supply support material via URLs, you may upload three files with your application in the following formats: 

  • Video (MP4, QuickTime, and Windows Media) 
  • Audio (MP3 and Windows Media) 
  • Images (Slideshow in MS PowerPoint (preferred) or JPEG) 
  • Written material (MS Word and PDF).

Please note: we do not accept application-related support material submitted via post. Application-related material received by post will not be assessed and will be returned to the sender. If you think you will have difficulty submitting your support material online, please contact the grants team.

Reporting for Grant Recipients

Successful recipients of VACS National Priorities funding must provide the Australia Council with biannual financial, statistical and artistic program data as well as an annual report on outcomes achieved, to receive their payments.

Funding agreements will be negotiated to align as far as possible with other funding agreements to which the organisation may be party.

The data and outcomes reporting provide Council with valuable information to monitor the performance and activity of each organisation and ensures accountability for investment of public funds. The data will also be aggregated to provide a nationally focused snapshot with input from all jurisdictions, for consideration at each Meeting of Cultural Ministers.

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