2015 ACT Arts Policy

Acknowledgment of Country

The Australian Capital Territory is Ngunnawal Country. The ACT Government acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the Canberra region. The region was also an important meeting place and significant to other Aboriginal groups. The ACT Government acknowledges the historical dispossession and its continuing legacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Message from the Minister for the Arts

The arts improve and strengthen communities, and a strong arts sector is essential to the cultural, social and economic fabric of a place. Around the world, art plays a key role in the creation of vibrant, culturally rich and diverse cities and in Canberra we are fortunate to have a thriving local arts scene, made up of artists, arts workers and arts organisations who use their ideas and creativity to add colour, life and movement to our city.

In 2012 I released the ACT Arts Policy Framework which intended to set a vision for the arts sector in Canberra. The arts landscape has changed significantly since then, not only have we celebrated the centenary of our city and developed a city brand, but Canberra is increasingly being recognised as a creative and cultural hub.

Canberra is also being seen as one of the world’s most liveable cities and this is thanks in large part to our city culture. The 2015 ACT Arts Policy (PDF 1.5MB) PDF sets a vision for the future and outlines how we will support our local artists, so that Canberra can continue to be known not only as the world’s most liveable city, but also as one of Australia’s most vibrant artistic centres.

The new policy encourages collaboration and innovation, and respects the integrity of our local artists. If there is one constant in our arts sector, it’s that it is always changing. I look forward to continuing the conversation with artists, arts workers, arts organisations and audiences to ensure our arts policy remains relevant and engaged.

Our vision for the arts is simple. We want the arts in Canberra to be a diverse and dynamic arts ecology which is valued locally, nationally and globally. As Minister for the Arts I will encourage the pursuit of excellence and innovation, and anticipate that this revised policy will support our arts sector in its many and varied creative endeavours.

Joy Burch, MLA
Minister for the Arts
June 2015

Where are we now?

The ACT Government recognises that arts and culture are an integral part of the lives of individuals as well as the whole social and economic fabric of Canberra. The arts help to define our community’s identity and give expression to community values. Creativity is also fundamental to innovation and business growth.

The 2015 ACT Arts Policy outlines the vision, values and principles within which artsACT operates, as well as providing guidance for the work of the Cultural Facilities Corporation (CFC) and for other ACT Government agencies whose work impacts on or can be enhanced by the arts such as Visit Canberra, Innovation, Trade and Investment, Libraries, ACT Health, the Community Services Directorate and the Education and Training Directorate.

The Canberra Region has many diverse artists and arts organisations that provide inspiration and opportunity for residents within Canberra and beyond. It needs to be acknowledged that Canberra is and should continue to be a regional hub for the arts and that we have a responsibility for both state level and local engagement with the arts.

With this acknowledgement comes the need to be clear about responsibilities, especially for funding and it is for this reason that the ACT Arts Fund only supports ACT based arts practice.

Working together and making connections is essential to achieving the vision set out here and we need to build and maintain our relationships so we can achieve more. We are ready to put Canberra on the national and international stage.

Part of our commitment set out in this Policy is to work on our engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and artists to ensure that we are engaged with this important part of Australian culture and that it is celebrated, represented and embedded in what we do.

As the ACT Government’s arts agency, artsACT reports to the Minister for the Arts, Ms Joy Burch MLA. artsACT provides policy and funding advice to government; manages the ACT Arts Fund and a range of other arts development and funding initiatives; manages the ACT Government public art collection; oversees the development and management of key ACT arts facilities; and maintains links with other arts and cultural organisations including the Australia Council for the Arts and the federal Ministry for the Arts. artsACT does this to recognise the integral part the arts and culture play in our community and to encourage creativity, celebration, interpretation, artistic vibrancy and exchange of ideas. artsACT is genuine in our belief that Canberra is an influential part of the arts and cultural sector nationally and internationally and want to share that story.

The CFC is a statutory enterprise of the ACT Government managing the Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra Museum and Gallery and three ACT Historic Places run as house museums. The CFC has a vision for Canberra to be a creative capital that values the arts for their intrinsic qualities, their contribution to building a more inclusive and resilient society, their support for making the city an exciting place to live and an attractive destination for business and tourism, and their important role in the economy of the ACT. The CFC seeks to enable our distinctive institutions to provide enriching cultural experiences that contribute to Canberra’s identity.

This 2015 ACT Arts Policy was developed following a review of the ACT Arts Policy Framework which was released in 2012. The feedback received throughout the review process was invaluable in refreshing the Framework to create a new vision and refined principles.

The first step in the review process was the appointment of an independent Reference Group on 16 January 2015. The role of the Reference Group was to guide the consultation process.

The second step involved consultation with local arts organisations, artists and the public. The consultation involved a range of methodologies in order to garner a wide range of views, including a community forum attended by over 65 people, sector workshops attended by a total of 62 people, a closed Facebook group comprising 63 young and emerging artists, an online survey completed by 116 people and 26 written submissions. Overall, artsACT estimates that over 300 individuals and representative organisations were engaged in the consultation process.

A Consultation Report was developed to record the comments and views of the community through the review process.

How it all fits together

Our vision for the arts:

To be a diverse and dynamic arts ecology valued locally, nationally and globally.

Our principles:

What we do:

  • Policy, communications and partnerships
  • Public art and infrastructure
  • Funding
  • Government business, admin and support
  • Canberra Museum and Gallery (CFC)
  • Canberra Theatre Centre (CFC)
  • Historic Places (CFC)

ACT Government arts agency strategic plans:

  • artsACT Strategic Plan
  • CFC Strategic Plan

Our values:

  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Collaboration
  • Innovation

ACT Government priorities:

  • Health and education
  • Economic growth and diversification
  • Suburban renewal and better transport
  • Enhancing liveability and social inclusion

Our vision

To be a diverse and dynamic arts ecology valued locally, nationally and globally.

Our values

The ACT Government adheres to the values set out in the ACT Public Service Code of Conduct (2012). Those values are respect, integrity, collaboration and innovation. The ACT Arts Policy has at its centre the same values.


Respect means treating others with the sensitivity, courtesy and understanding we would wish for ourselves, and recognising that everyone has something to offer. It means thinking “would I be happy if this was happening to me” and rests on a foundation of fundamental decency in our dealings with people.


Integrity means being, honest, dependable, and it means recognising achievement, not shirking uncomfortable conversations and implies a consistency in our dealings with others.


Collaboration means actively sharing information and resources, working together towards shared goals and asking “who else do I need to talk with to get this right”. It means actively seeking opportunities for breaking down unhealthy silos and relies on genuine engagement with people.


Innovation means asking “but why”, actively seeking out new and better ways of doing what we do (as well as better things to do), and not settling for how it has always been. It means empowering people in all the connections we make to raise new ideas and necessitates sensible and thoughtful engagement with risk.

Our principles

Principle 1: Participation in and access to the arts

Principle 2: Great art and great artists

Principle 3: Vitality of the Canberra Region arts ecology

Principle 4: Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultures

What we will do and how we will know that we have succeeded

The 2015 ACT Arts Policy will be implemented through the work of artsACT and by guiding the activities of the CFC and other ACT Government agencies involved in the arts. The ACT Government is working on whole of government connections and together with the arts community we can work in partnership to support development and innovation. It is important to recognise that the arts can play a vital role in the delivery of services to our community and that other areas of government can provide a role in supporting the arts.

We have listened to the community and it is clear that there are many operational and practical elements of the work of artsACT which require clarification. We also know that the impact of what we do needs to be measured to inform planning and the best use of resources.

The priorities and actions which will see this Policy implemented are set out in the strategic plans of both artsACT and the CFC. Sitting alongside these strategic documents will be a number of operational plans which are to be developed by artsACT on issues such as: research and data; cultural infrastructure; communications; community arts and cultural development; and funding.

We will know that we have succeeded by using the measures set out in our strategic plans. There are a number of quantitative ways of measuring our success including through attendance and participation rates, number of people employed in the arts sector, and the achievements of our artists interstate and overseas. We recognise, however, that to paint a full picture of our arts ecology, we also need to look at qualitative information such as the public value and social, community and health impact of the arts. artsACT will develop a research and data plan in order to provide a comprehensive framework for the development and management of research undertaken and supported by the ACT Government as well as the Australian Government. This research will play an important role in our strategic planning, program development and overall evaluation of the impact of what we fund.

An important part of the implementation of this Policy will be promoting our successes: sharing the stories of artsACT, the CFC, artists, arts workers and arts organisations. Our engagement with the sector and the community will be essential in ensuring that we develop, grow and deliver.

More Information

You can download the full PDF version of the document here:

For more information, or to obtain a hard copy of the policy, contact artsACT on 02 6207 2384.

ACT Arts Policy Framework Cover