Background Paper: Making CBRarts Happen 

Making CBRarts Happen - Background Paper (PDF 592KB) PDF


The ACT Government is committed, through the 2015 ACT Arts Policy, to the ongoing support of great art and great artists with a focus on developing a dynamic and diverse Canberra Region arts ecology. This support allows Canberra arts to engage at a local, national and global level.

CBRarts Forum: Making CBRarts Happen is part of our commitment to an ongoing conversation with the community about implementing the ACT Arts Policy, and to informing the development of the Arts Funding Plan.

Our Forum’s Objective

This Forum is the first step in the discussion between government, organisations and individuals about the direct and indirect funding supports available to the arts sector. Discussions will range from consideration of priorities; to what is working and ideas for improvements, and identifying gaps in support. 

Arts Funding Plan

We will consult on the Arts Funding Plan throughout 2016. Key themes for discussion are whether and how current funding arrangements may be revised and renewed to make them more clearly align with the goals of the ACT Arts Policy. The Plan will provide the arts sector and community with ACT Government’s arts funding priorities and outline what we are seeking to be achieve through funding categories. 

The Arts Funding Plan is a response to the communities’ wish that we clarify and better communicate arts funding priorities and mechanisms. The Arts Funding Plan will also be informed by: 

  • ACT Government priorities;
  • available resources; 
  • a review of current mechanisms and analysis of associated data; 
  • feedback received during the consultation to develop the 2015 ACT Arts Policy; and 
  • innovations and best practice models nationally.

The Arts Funding Plan will: 

  • outline the goals and objective of the ACT Arts Fund, consistent with the ACT Arts Policy;
  • present new and renewed support mechanisms; and
  • summarise the purpose of individual funding categories and other support, and how they contribute to support ACT artists at all stages of their careers and facilitate development of the sector as a whole.

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What we know

ACT Government Arts Fund

artsACT manages the ACT Government Arts Fund, which is the main avenue through which we provide direct financial support to the arts in Canberra. The ACT Arts Fund supports individual artists, arts organisations and community groups across all art forms and at all levels.

Applications are made to number of categories that are assessed by peer panels. artsACT makes recommendations to the Minister for Small Business and the Arts based on peer panel assessments. 

The 2015-16 fund categories and budget allocation.

Whole of Sector Support

artsACT provides whole of sector support mainly through advice and research delivered through our administration budget. We have identified particular needs in the following categories:

  • Research and data projects;
  • Promotion of Canberra Arts; and
  • Training and Capacity Building.

ACT Government Priorities

The 2015 ACT Arts Policy sets out a vision to be a diverse and dynamic and arts ecology valued locally, nationally and globally. Four principles support this vision:

  • Participation in and access to the arts
  • Great arts and great artists
  • Vitality of the Canberra Region arts ecology
  • Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.

The initial implementation of the Arts Policy is supported by the artsACT 2015 2016 Strategic Plan. Several actions identified relate to how we provide funding to support specific objectives. 

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National Trends

New models and priorities in arts funding

There have been significant change and renewal to arts funding across the States and Northern Territory, including how the arts form an important part of the economic, social and cultural fabric of the jurisdictions. The arts are also considered in the broader context of the creative industries and innovation. Capital infrastructure renewal programs and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts also feature across jurisdictions. 

Arts NSW

In 2013, Arts NSWExternal Link reviewed its arts funding program, in consultation with the sector, to:

  • simplify the application process; 
  • lessen the number of categories; 
  • provide more stability for organisations; and 
  • ensure that funding reflected a modern approach to support and develop the arts and cultural sector.

Following the review, Arts NSW introduced a new Arts and Cultural Development ProgramExternal Link. The Arts and Cultural Development Program is the NSW Government’s major grants program for arts and culture. The Arts and Cultural Development Program supports a resilient and vibrant arts and cultural sector, and deliver quality arts and cultural experiences to diverse audiences around NSW, through three main categories:

  • Program funding for organisations on an annual or multiyear basis;
  • Project funding for arts and cultural activities and events, and for professional development opportunities, for artists and arts organisations; and
  • Fellowships and Awards.

In 2015, Arts NSW produced a new 10-year arts policy: Create in NSW: The NSW Arts and Cultural Policy FrameworkExternal Link. The Arts and Cultural Development Program aligns to the objectives of the policy.

Creative Victoria

The establishment of Creative VictoriaExternal Link has seen a significant change in the Victorian Government’s approach to supporting, championing and growing the State’s creative industries, spanning arts, culture, screen, design and more. In bringing the Victorian Government’s support for the creative industriesExternal Link under one banner, Creative Victoria aims to open new opportunities for innovation, collaboration, cross-promotion and growth both across these industries and beyond. In response to feedback from the sector, Creative Victoria made some changes to its funding program for multiyear organisations including:

  • increased the term of funding from three to four years;
  • raised the minimum funding threshold from $40k to $60k each year;
  • removed the three previous categories (Lead, Established and Developing);
  • aligned reporting requirements and expectations with an organisation’s size, needs and the funding received;
  • simplified the program’s application process, and aligned it with Australia Council application requirements and funding cycle.
  • Creative Victoria also allows project funding for larger activities to be funded over more than one year.

Australian Government

The Australia Council has undergone significant change to its funding modelExternal Link and budget to ensure that its funding model aligns with its strategic planExternal Link. The Federal Ministry of the Arts has a new funding program known as CatalystExternal Link to artist and arts organisations, focusing on partnership and collaboration, innovation and participation, and international and cultural diplomacy. 

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Diversification of funding

Many ACT arts organisations have traditionally relied heavily on artsACT funding to support their ongoing operations, while a number have balanced their ACT Government funding with own-source revenue.  A number of arts organisations have also looked to the Australian Government for funding and been successful in Australia Council for the Arts and Ministry of the Arts funding, while other organisations have sought and gained philanthropic or private sector sponsorship. All of these funding sources are important in ensuring diversity in an organisation’s funding base and not relying too heavily on any single funding supply.

Australian Government

The ACT hasartists and arts organisations have had a history of low application numbers to the Australia Council and therefore low the ACT has very low relative funding rates to the ACT, compared with other states and the Northern Territory.

We strongly encourage Canberra artists and arts organisations to apply to the The Australia Council is the largest and Catalyst.  Asmost diverse source of federal funding for the arts, and has gone through significant change over the past few years. In addition to funding, being part of the application process, it is important that ACT applicants discuss and seek feedback on their applications to better understand its priorities and context, and strengthen future applications.peer assessment process can contribute to raising the profile of ACT artists and organisations within Australia Council processes. 

The sector can also benefit from ACT artists and arts administrators to register as peers with the Australia CouncilExternal Link. This assists in increasing the profile of Canberra arts, and provides insight to national trends and assessment process. Catalyst peer registrationExternal Link is open throughout the year.


The Australian Government’s new Catalyst Australian Arts and Culture FundExternal Link is also an avenue to seek Australian Government funding. It will provide $12 million each year to innovative projects and initiatives from arts and cultural organisations. Projects by, or that involve, small to medium organisations will be given priority. The fund may also support some gallery, library, archive, museum, arts education and infrastructure projects. The fund is aimed at forging new creative and financial partnerships and stimulating innovative ways to build participation by Australians, and enabling access to high quality arts experiences in regional communities and international activities that achieve cultural diplomacy objectives. Catalyst will complement Australia Council, Creative Partnerships Australia and other support programs.

Privates Sources

As the Canberra business sector grows and matures, there is an increasing recognition by big and small businesses of the benefits of support the arts and cultural activities. There a range of very good examples where arts organisations have partnered with a range of business and non-government entities to support their annual projects, prizes or activities.  Creative Partnerships AustraliaExternal Link and the Australian Cultural FundExternal Link have assisted ACT arts organisations to develop their skills in this area.

In addition, as individual artists and organisations develop their practice, the importance of building business and entrepreneurial skills alongside their arts practice as part of long-term sustainability. We encourage funded organisations to develop their private sources of funding, including Developing a relationship with the business community, through philanthropy, sponsorship, commissions, and other charges. This ensures this arrangements will assist in ensuing the sustainability of organisations and individuals practice. 

We also recognise there a significant element of the Canberra arts sector that currently does not receive or seek support from the ACT Government. Pursing private funding by individuals and organisationssources may better align with their strategic or professional development objectives.

Canberra artists and organisations access private sources of funding

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra has successfully secured significant corporate sponsorship which now equates to some 30% of income. The Canberra Glassworks recently secured sponsorship from John Hindmarsh for a regional glass prize.

Other Canberra artists and arts organisations have been successful in securing sponsorship from Creative Partnerships Australia including the Belconnen Arts Centre, QL2 Dance, Megalo Print Studio + Gallery, Stuart McMillen and Tobias Cole. Stephen Harrison was also recently successful in securing sponsorship from the AMP Future Fund.

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What you have told us 

During the preparation of the 2015 ACT Arts Policy, a range of sector feedback was received, including the following points which have been grouped into two subjects for the purpose of this discussion.

The relationship between artsACT and the sector

  • Clarity and promotion of alignment between funding and the ACT Arts Policy
  • Clarity of communication channels and responsibilities
  • Transparent information on funding processes and outcomes and timing

Potential areas for consideration and further support

  • Professional development for artists and arts workers
  • Continued support for community arts and cultural development
  • The development of loans schemes and matched funding
  • Support for art form development
  • Greater flexibility in funding and funding timelines
  • Multiyear project funding
  • Support for National touring
  • Development of the evidence base and evaluation of activity

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The following questions have been developed to assist with the discussion on the development of a Funding Plan for the ACT.

Supporting Great Art and Great Artists

  • What are the expectations on funding from the ACT Government? 
  • How are the needs of individuals, organisations, and the whole sector managed, to provide for sustainability, diversity, growth, innovation and renewal across the sector?
  • How should unscheduled opportunities be managed along-side more structured funding rounds?
  • Is there a need for greater flexibility in the type and timing of funding available?

Developing the vitality of the arts ecology

  • How can funding be provided to support artist at all stages of their careers?
  • How can support be provided to artists, arts workers, organisations and facilities for sector-wide development? 
  • Do the current ACT Arts Fund categories remain relevant? If not – what changes are needed?

Diversifying funding for Canberra arts

  • What should expectations be for funding recipients when it comes to philanthropy, sponsorship, crowd-funding, entrepreneurial and other opportunities?
  • What is needed to take advantage of these opportunities?

Canberra: A city of Great Art and Great Artists

  • What is the Canberra’s arts ecology point of difference?
  • What does excellence look like in a Canberra Context?
  • What are the features of our dynamic and diverse arts ecology?
  • What stories do we have to tell local, national and global audiences?

Providing participation and access to the arts

  • How do we improve support for community access and participation in the arts?
  • How do we improve access to under-represented section of the community in terms of professional practice and community participation (for example people with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Canberra cultural and linguistic diversity)?

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An ongoing conversation

artsACT welcomes community and arts sector input as we develop a new Arts Funding Plan. We encourage joining the conversation on twitter using #CBRartshappen.
Following the Forum, you can continue to tweet or email, mail or meet with us to put forward your views on the development of the Plan. We ask that formal submissions are received by 13 May 2016 to prepare for the next stage in the Plan’s development. 

Information will be available on this website and through the artACT eNews and Twitter accountExternal Link (@artsACT1).

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2015-16 ACT Arts Fund
Fund Categories Budget Description
Key Arts Organisations $5,300,000 Supporting seventeen organisations with funding over five years to provide critical infrastructure and programs that enhance the vitality Canberra Arts ecology.
Program Organisations $550,000 Supporting eight organisations over two years to provide programs that enhance the vitality of the Canberra Arts ecology.
Project $830,000 50 - 60 projects annually to support ACT artists, groups and organisation to undertake one-off activities.
Llewellyn Hall $80,000 Providing 5-6 organisations annually are supported to provide affordable access to this significant piece of cultural infrastructure.
Arts Residencies $50,000 Providing for 5 - 6 residencies annually to assist in development Canberra as destination of choice for artistic development, and facilitate local practice development.
Out of Round $25,000 Providing for 5 - 6 residencies annually to assist in development Canberra as destination of choice for artistic development, and facilitate local practice development.
Book of the Year Award $15,000 Awards for excellence in literature for winner and shortlisted artists

The ACT Government also funds number specific initiatives to support specific objectives, and contribute to national initiatives that support arts organisations and individual artists:

Fund Categories Budget Description
Australian National University Community Outreach Program $1,290,000 Supporting community access and participation in the arts through a range of music and visual arts access programs.
Community Arts and Cultural Development $340,000 Administered through Belconnen and Tuggeranong Arts Centres to run community access and participation programs.
Visual Arts and Craft Strategy $145,000 An initiative with the Australia Council, currently providing funding to five Key Arts Organisations (visual arts)
Asialink Residencies $45,000 An initiative with the Asialink, for ACT artists to undertake residencies in Asia and a reciprocal residency in the ACT.
Fringe Festival $30,000 For a producer to present a fringe festival
Arts Law Centre of Australia $11,000 For ACT artists and arts organisations to access legal advice

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