First Nations arts and culture

Mary Katatjuku Pan from Amata (SA) with Punu Kutjara. 2016. Image by Rhett Hammerton. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women’s Council

Purrumpa

The Australia Council, together with the First Nations Strategy Panel, has officially launched Purrumpa – set to be the largest national gathering of First Nations arts and culture in 50 years.

Purrumpa will be held over five days on Kaurna Yerta at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 31 October to 4 November 2022.

Learn more

First Nations arts and culture make a rich contribution to the world’s culture, to Australia’s diverse contemporary culture and to national identity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts include traditional and contemporary practice, including all new forms of cultural expression. This is applied across all art forms and in urban, regional and remote areas.

The Australia Council regards First Nations cultures as living forces with their own strengths and influences, not as remnants of the past. We aim to help ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultural expressions are a source of pride for all Australians.

The value of First Nations arts activity to individuals, families and communities is significant culturally, socially and economically.

The Australia Council continues to build on our long term commitment to First Nations arts and culture, recognising the importance of First Nations peoples’ self-determination, cultural authority and leadership to our collective prosperity.

For over 50 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders have brought a guiding voice to the Australia Council – and to the nation – on matters relating to First Nations arts and culture and the broader arts and cultural sector.

The First Nations Arts and Culture Strategy Panel advises on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultural matters and ensures the Australia Council delivers its First Nations Arts and Culture Strategy.

To strategically support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture, the Strategy Panel takes a holistic and systemic view privileging Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. This view embraces global conversations of social justice, climate justice and decolonisation.

Download the First Nations Arts and Culture Strategy 2023–27 [PDF] [RTF].

The Australia Council’s research program investigates the First Nations arts ecology and promotes greater participation in First Nations arts experiences by all Australians.

Explore our First Nations research program.

First published in 2002 and revised in 2007, this protocol guide endorses the rights of First Nations people to their cultural heritage and supports First Nations creative practice. This protocol guide encourages self-determination and helps build a strong and diverse First Nations arts sector. These are key goals and priority areas of the Australia Council for the Arts.

Creative practitioners who work with First Nations artists or engage with First Nations cultural heritage in projects, and are funded by Australia Council for the Arts grant assessment panels are required to comply with this protocol guide as a condition of funding.

Over the years, the principles and protocols contained in this protocol guide have also been applied nationally and internationally – educating readers and users on First Nations Australian cultural heritage, and encouraging meaningful collaborations with First Nations artists and creators.

Download the protocols.

The Australia Council delivers dedicated funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, groups and organisations. This funding is assessed wholly by Indigenous peers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, groups and organisations are also welcome to apply for the range of grants and opportunities we offer.

Scroll down this page to find opportunities for First Nations artists and organisations.

Need help with your application? Contact a Grants Officer now

The Australia Council’s submission to the Closing the Gap Refresh advocates for increased investment in First Nations arts and cultural expression, cultural maintenance, and First Nations-led culturally based solutions across portfolios. It draws on the growing body of evidence showing participation in arts and culture supports outcomes across the Closing the Gap framework.

Our submission was developed in collaboration with our First Nations stakeholders. First Nations peoples’ indivisible rights to culture and self-determination are central in our submission. For decades, First Nations peoples have advocated for the critical role of culture – as a necessary part of the solution to First Nations disadvantage, and for the healing and strengthening of individuals and communities. However, culture has been the missing element from the Closing the Gap framework to date. Funding for First Nations culture made up just 1% of total direct government expenditure for First Nations Australians in 2015–16, and cultural outcomes have not featured in the measurement framework.

Now is the moment to invest in the inherent value and foundational role of strong culture in the Closing the Gap agenda.

Click here to read more.


Mary Katatjuku Pan from Amata (SA) with Punu Kutjara. 2016. Image by Rhett Hammerton. Copyright Tjanpi Desert Weavers

Opportunities for First Nations Artists


Closed

Digital Fellowship Program

This fellowship program brings practitioners based in Australia and New Zealand together to co-develop their digital practice and set directions for the future of the arts in our region.

View opportunity
Closed

Venice Biennale 2024: Expressions of Interest for artistic proposals

Opportunity for Australian artists and curators to present a ground-breaking and ambitious exhibition within the Australia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2024.

View opportunity
Closed

First Nations Emerging Career Development Award

The Emerging First Nations Career Development Award supports two Australian First Nations artists or arts workers between 18-30 years old to pursue their professional development.

View opportunity
Closed

The Dreaming Award

Support for two inspirational young First Nations artists aged 18-30 years to create a major body of work through mentoring and partnerships.

View opportunity
Closed

The Red Ochre Award (Lifetime achievement)

Nominations for senior artists are accepted from arts and community organisations and individuals.

View opportunity
Closed

Playing Australia Project Investment

Playing Australia Project Investment supports performing arts tours to reach regional and remote communities across Australia.

View opportunity
Closed

Digital Skills Program × Melbourne International Games Week

The Australia Council is pleased to announce the Digital Skills Program × Melbourne International Games Week.

View opportunity
Closed

International Engagement Fund

Our vision is for Australian arts, culture and creativity to be thriving and known globally for its innovation, sustainability and diversity.

View opportunity

Closed

Digital Fellowship Program

This fellowship program brings practitioners based in Australia and New Zealand together to co-develop their digital practice and set directions for the future of the arts in our region.
Closed

Venice Biennale 2024: Expressions of Interest for artistic proposals

Opportunity for Australian artists and curators to present a ground-breaking and ambitious exhibition within the Australia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2024.
Closed

First Nations Emerging Career Development Award

The Emerging First Nations Career Development Award supports two Australian First Nations artists or arts workers between 18-30 years old to pursue their professional development.
Closed

The Dreaming Award

Support for two inspirational young First Nations artists aged 18-30 years to create a major body of work through mentoring and partnerships.
Closed

The Red Ochre Award (Lifetime achievement)

Nominations for senior artists are accepted from arts and community organisations and individuals.
Closed

Playing Australia Project Investment

Playing Australia Project Investment supports performing arts tours to reach regional and remote communities across Australia.
Closed

Digital Skills Program × Melbourne International Games Week

The Australia Council is pleased to announce the Digital Skills Program × Melbourne International Games Week.
Closed

International Engagement Fund

Our vision is for Australian arts, culture and creativity to be thriving and known globally for its innovation, sustainability and diversity.