Build your practice with our international neighbours


Due to current travel restrictions, the following international investment opportunities will not be available in 2020:

  • International Arts Strategy Outcomes Fund 
  • International Residencies Program 
  • Support to attend international markets and platforms.

Artists and organisations seeking funding for viable international engagement can apply to the Arts Projects grant categories closing Tuesday 2 March 2021 for projects starting after 1 June 2021.

Please note that applications for international engagement that include physical mobility are unlikely to be considered as competitive until the Australian Government’s travel ban is lifted. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to adapt your international engagement to the digital space for the foreseeable future.

Applicants should ensure duty of care, health and wellbeing, risk mitigation, and adapting to ongoing travel restrictions and social distancing measures are all considered. 

Further information about strategic international opportunities will be announced in late 2020. 

Current situation

The Australia Council for the Arts has been in dialogue since January with the Australian arts sector and our international partners on the impacts of COVID-19. During this time, we have worked to support Australian artists and organisations whose international activity is affected to postpone or find suitable adaptations to their plans. We are actively monitoring the international situation and considering the available options, both short and long term for artists and organisations to re-engage.

The impact of COVID-19 on international touring, presentation, residencies, exchange and market development has been significant. Our data from the Resilience Fund shows that 41% of applicants reported their work impacted by international travel restrictions.

The Australian Government’s ban on overseas travel from Australia remains in place. Travellers cannot leave Australia unless they receive an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs.

The outlook for international travel is unclear.

Media reports suggest restrictions may not ease for another 12 months, and it could be up to two years before these conditions normalise to a pre-COVID environment.

We understand that artists and organisations are seeking certainty and continuity for their future international engagement – whether this means initiating new projects or resuming postponed or cancelled activity.

At present, the barriers to international engagement are very real and persistent. It is important that any proposal for activity that includes physical gathering, mobility and presentation seriously considers the risks posed by travel restrictions and social distancing, as well as duty of care for artists and participants.

Our current advice is to consider digital options for international engagement at least until 30 June 2021.

Future international engagement

The Council has been actively supporting cross-border engagement for Australian arts and culture for decades. Cross-border engagement remains a priority, recognising it is essential to the sustainability and development of the Australian arts sector. Resuming national and international physical mobility and exchange activity, including partnerships for mobility within so-called travel “bubbles”, is dependent on open borders, affordable travel, relaxing of social distancing measures, elimination of threats to health and wellbeing, and programming priorities. 

In the face of these challenges, over the past six months we have seen the sector innovate international engagement, deploying ways of making work, collaborating, presenting, connecting with audiences and developing markets using digital and hybrid models. We see these models for digital and hybrid engagement as crucial to future-proof international engagement.

The Council’s International Arts Strategy has been a valuable roadmap in directing and informing our investment. Climate change and environmental responsibility, and a post-pandemic environment, require significant reconsideration of international engagement, mobility and exchange. The opportunity exists to leverage the Australian art sector’s success and strong networks to innovate international engagement, mobility and exchange, including in partnership with our international counterparts.

As such, we are evaluating and refreshing our International Arts Strategy. It will be replaced with a new strategy incorporating international engagement, mobility and exchange. We see this process as a prime opportunity to build on the Australian sector’s pre-COVID success to innovate international engagement, mobility and exchange for the future.

Key considerations include:

  • How might we propose a radical new future for international engagement, mobility and exchange?
  • How do we support flexible, nimble, relevant, responsive, versatile international engagement and mobility in the future?
  • How do we think in a borderless way and breakdown the national/regional/international/physical divides in our programs?

Through the Council’s upcoming consultation, we are initiating a dialogue with the sector on recovery and future opportunities. There are multiple ways to connect with this work. Further information on how to participate will be released in late August.

A targeted program of connection without physical mobility will be implemented in the interim to support artists and organisations to stay connected, ensuring the continuation of vital relationships, collaborations and influence with peers, that in turn lead to future opportunities for Australian artists. Further information on these strategic initiatives will be announced in late 2020 alongside a new suite of Sector Recovery initiatives.


For International Arts Strategy enquiries:

For Grants Program enquiries:

If you an Australian artist or arts worker overseas, please contact us if you need to discuss your situation. If you haven’t already done so, register with Smart Traveller and refer to this site to see the latest updates on travel restrictions and advice.

If you are an Australian artist or arts worker overseas and require assistance, please refer to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for a list of Australian embassies, high commissions and consulates and their contact details.

We acknowledge the distress, hardship and isolation felt by artists and arts workers at this time. For support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Support Act on 1800 959 500.

Exit off canvas