Four Year Investment for Organisations

Expressions of interest

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Context for Expressions of Interest

Since the last cycle of four year investment was implemented, organisations in the arts and cultural sector were impacted by events that have significantly disrupted their operations and sustainability. The livelihood and well-being of artists, creatives and those working in the sector to support them were also impacted. The effects of this were experienced in different ways across the country.

The Australia Council acknowledges that the ramifications of these events are ongoing.

We anticipate that artists and creatives, management, and boards of organisations will develop artistic visions and plans that while forward looking, will take into account the very different operating environment likely to be experienced over the next few years.

We welcome and strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss your EOI in the context of your particular circumstances.

We also offer the following additional resources to these guidelines:


Guidelines

Four Year Investment provides multi-year investment for arts and cultural organisations. This will enable organisations to plan with longer-term certainty and increase their capacity to leverage other support and collaborations.

Organisations must demonstrate a high degree of artistic achievement, along with a compelling four year vision for the period 2025-2028. To be competitive, organisations will also need to show they are well governed, effectively managed, and generate diverse income streams.

It is the intention of this category to invest in organisations that are part of the small to medium arts and cultural sector. Large, well-resourced organisations or institutions seeking investment in multi-year arts programs may not be considered a priority for investment in this category.

Four Year Investment for Organisations is a two-stage process. Stage one is an expression of interest (EOI). If an organisation is successful in its first stage EOI, it will be invited to make a full Stage 2 application for assessment.

Investment for organisations approved after Stage 2 assessment will support activities from 1 January 2025 to 31 December 2028.

The minimum eligible grant request for this program is $100,000 per year, over the four year investment period ($400,000 in total). The maximum eligible grant request is $520,000 per year over the four year investment period ($2,080,000 in total).

The revised cap of $520,000 per year acknowledges partial indexation that has been applied across the 2021-2024 investment cycle.

The application process for Four Year Investment for Organisations involves two stages.

Stage 1: Expression of interest (EOI)

  • EOIs open for submission in September 2022
  • EOIs close 3pm AEDT on Tuesday, 14 February 2023
  • applicants notified in June 2023.

Stage 2: Full application for organisations invited after EOI process

  • applications open from June 2023
  • applications close August 2023
  • applicants notified by December 2023.

Who can submit an EOI

We accept EOIs from organisations that develop, create and/or present artistic programs.

Organisations that deliver services as part of an artistic program may apply for Four Year Investment and will be assessed on the quality of their artistic program.

The Australia Council will also support services to the arts sector through a new stream of investment called Delivery Partners.

The Australia Council requires that organisations be registered under Australian law (for example, incorporated association or company limited by guarantee) or created by law (for example, a government statutory authority).

  • Organisations that are not legally constituted are not eligible to apply.
  • Organisations that are registered as Trusts are not eligible to apply.

Organisations may be required to provide a certificate of incorporation or evidence of their current legal status.

It is the intention of this category to invest in organisations that are part of the small to medium arts and cultural sector. Large, well-resourced organisations or institutions seeking investment in multi-year arts programs may not be considered a priority for investment in this category.

Who can’t submit an EOI

You can’t submit an EOI if:

  • you have an overdue grant report
  • you have overdue Multi-Year Investment reporting
  • you owe money to the Australia Council
  • your organisation is not registered in Australia
  • you are an individual or group
  • your organisation is registered as a Trust.

What you can’t submit an EOI for

You can’t submit an EOI for the following activities:

  • activities that do not involve or benefit Australian practicing artists, arts professionals, audiences or communities
  • activities that do not have a clearly defined arts or cultural component
  • activities that have already taken place
  • activities engaging with First Nations content, artists and communities that do not adhere to the Australia Council First Nations Cultural & Intellectual Property Protocols.

Your application must comply with the following Protocols. We may contact you to request further information during the assessment process, or if successful, as a condition of your funding.

Protocols for using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts

All applications involving First Nations artists, communities or subject matter must adhere to these Protocols, provide evidence of this in their application and support material. More information on the First Nations Protocols is available here.

Commonwealth Child Safe Framework

All successful applicants are required to comply with all Australian law relating to employing or engaging people who work or volunteer with children, including working with children checks and mandatory reporting. Successful organisations who provide services directly to children, or whose funded activities involve contact with children, will additionally be required to implement the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.

You will need to select under which arts practice area you wish to have your EOI reviewed:

  • Community Arts and Cultural Development
  • Dance
  • Emerging and Experimental Arts
  • First Nations arts and culture *
  • Literature
  • Multi-art form
  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Visual Arts.

If you are unsure which arts practice area to choose, contact an Artists Services Officer.

*Only First Nations organisations with 51% or more First Nations representation in governance and key creatives at the time of submission, can choose to have their EOI reviewed under the First Nations arts practice area. However, First Nations organisations may alternatively choose to have their EOI reviewed under a different arts practice area.

Heads of Practice:

  • Community Arts and Cultural Development & Emerging and Experimental Arts – Zohar Spatz
  • Dance and Multi-art form – Sarah Greentree
  • First Nations arts & culture – Patricia Adjei
  • Literature – Wenona Byrne
  • Music – Kirsty Rivers
  • Theatre – Annette Madden
  • Visual Arts – Mikala Tai

EOIs are reviewed by expert industry representatives called Industry Advisors.

Industry Advisors are experts in their field with relevant experience and knowledge of an arts practice or sector. Industry Advisors will make recommendations for the Australia Council to consider when making the final decisions on which organisations to invite to make full applications and invest in for 2025-2028.

EOIs for Four Year Investment can be submitted through our application management system from September 2022.

Please note: any organisation seeking Four Year Investment must submit an EOI.

You will be asked to provide the following information:

  • the arts practice area under which you wish your EOI to be reviewed
  • a brief summary of your organisation, including an outline of your core activity and the role you play in the arts sector (approx. 750 words)
  • your organisation’s four year vision for the period 2025-2028 (approx. 500 words)
  • a brief summary of your organisation’s key activities over the last five years (approx. 500 words)
  • a description of how your organisation is addressing the different operating environment likely to be experienced in 2025-2028 after the disruption of the last 2 years (approx. 500 words)
  • a list of key staff in your organisation, with information on their roles
  • the members of your Board or governing committee (to whom the head of your organisation reports), with information on their length of service and the structure and composition of the Board
  • whether you report your financial information on a calendar or financial year basis
  • a summary of your audited financial information for each of the previous three years, including assets, liabilities, total income and total expenditure
  • investment you have received from sources other than the Australia Council in the past three years
  • projected high level income and expenditure for the next three years*
    • income should include government income (recurrent, project, other), contributed income (philanthropy, sponsorship), earned income (program, non-program related)
    • expenditure should include program costs (direct and non-direct), capital expenditure and salaries
    • the annual amount of investment you request from the Australia Council Four Year Investment program from 2025-2028.

*Organisations who report on a calendar year basis: 2023-2025. Organisations who report on a financial year basis: 2022/23-2024/25.

We will review your EOI against three assessment criteria listed below.

Under each criterion are bullet points indicating what may be considered when assessing your EOI. You do not need to respond to every bullet point listed.

1. Quality of artistic or cultural vision and achievements

We will review your organisation’s artistic achievements and artistic vision as described in your EOI. We may consider how your organisation’s track record and vision support:

  • the development of great art, artists and arts workers
  • engaging arts experiences
  • expanding access to arts experiences
  • activity that connects communities
  • creative work that reflects contemporary Australia
  • a dynamic sector that is diverse and inclusive
  • the progression of your artistic ambition over the four year cycle
  • enabling risk taking and experimentation in the realisation of works
  • a vibrant society and culture.

2. Organisational capacity

We will review your organisation’s track record of delivery, and capacity to deliver its vision. We may consider:

  • the experience of the people leading and governing your organisation
  • the financial health of your organisation, including the effective use of resources
  • the diversity and scale of income and co-funding you generate and receive
  • whether your work is supported by meaningful evaluation
  • how you demonstrate cultural competencies and adherence to relevant cultural protocols, particularly if your organisation works with diverse artists, audiences or communities. Where relevant, evidence that the Protocols for First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts have been adhered to
  • factors that have impacted your organisation’s financial health, planning and priorities.

You may wish to refer to our guide on Essential Governance Practices.

3. Alignment with the Strategic Objectives of the Australia Council

We will review how your organisation’s vision aligns with one or more of the strategic objectives in the current Australia Council Corporate Plan 2022-2026. The objectives are:

  • Australians are transformed by arts and creativity – We will enable more opportunities for Australians to be captivated by, and inspired through, experiencing arts and culture.
  • Our arts reflect us – We will support equity of opportunity and access in our creative expression, workforce, leaders and audiences.
  • First Nations arts and culture are cherished – We will 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.
  • Arts and creativity are thriving – We will support the best circumstances for a thriving arts sector.
  • Arts and creativity are valued – We will increase awareness of the value of public investment in arts and creativity.

Stage 1 EOI

Based on the recommendations of Industry Advisors who will review EOIs in panels for each arts practice area, we will rank the EOIs from highest to lowest, based on how well each EOI meets the assessment criteria.

We will consider the arts practice context and analysis of the organisational and financial data provided in each EOI. Please note: if we have provided investment to your organisation previously, our review will also consider how well you have delivered the activity supported.

We may also consider the spread of organisations across arts practice genres, geography, and communities in prioritising how we rank organisations.

We will only invite organisations to make a full application where Industry Advisors have recommended that an EOI submitted meets the assessment criteria to a high degree.

A recommendation of the mix of organisations to be invited to submit full applications in Stage 2 will be presented to the Board of the Australia Council.

You will be notified of the outcome of your EOI in June 2023.

We expect a high volume of EOIs. Only a limited number of organisations will be invited to apply in Stage 2. Given this volume, we can only provide general feedback on EOIs rather than for each EOI submitted.

Stage 2 applications

If your EOI is approved, you will be invited to submit a full application for Four Year Investment. This includes:

  • projected financial information for the next three years (including the first year of Four Year Investment in 2025)
  • a Strategic Plan that covers 2025-2028 or a significant portion of that period
  • a detailed program of activities for the current or next year
  • a draft program of activities for the first year of Four Year Investment in 2025.

You may receive guidance from us on the level of investment you can request for your full application. This may vary from your request in the EOI.

You will be asked to provide the following support material:

  • up to three URLs (weblinks) that best demonstrate your organisation’s artistic output. These URLs may include video, audio, images or written material.
    Do not provide URLs that require the user to log in or sign up to a platform. Do not provide links to Spotify or other applications that require users to log in or pay for access. If you are linking to media files that are private or password protected like Vimeo, please provide the password.
  • the latest three years of your audited financial accounts or equivalent. Organisations who report on a calendar year basis: 2019, 2020 and 2021. Organisations who report on a financial year basis:  2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22.

Reporting requirements for successful organisations

Organisations applying for Four Year Investment should be aware of the reporting requirements should an application be approved. These are not negotiable and be part of the conditions of the funding agreement, so be sure to include the resources required to do so in your future budget projections.

Organisations receiving Four Year Investment must provide the Australia Council with financial reporting three times a year, as well as annual reports on KPIs and statistical data to receive payments.

You must provide your organisation’s annual financial statements audited in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards by an Approved Auditor, and discloses separately the Four Year Investment funding as both income or unexpended grants. An Approved Auditor means a person who is: (a) registered as a company auditor under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), or a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, or of CPA Australia or the National Institute of Accountants; and (b) not a principal, member, shareholder, officer or employee of the Organisation or of a related body corporate as defined in Section 50 of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

The data and outcomes reporting provides Council with valuable information to monitor the performance and activity of each organisation and ensures accountability for the investment of public funds. It also informs research and communication by Council, allowing us to demonstrate the impact of our funded organisations.

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Frequently asked questions

Types of organisations we can support include incorporated associations, companies limited by guarantee or government statutory authorities. Organisations may be required to provide a certificate of incorporation or evidence of their current legal status.

No, only organisations that are registered under Australian law can apply. Further detail on who can apply to the Four Year Investment program is available on our website.

Yes, if you can demonstrate that:

  • the funding will support activities with a clearly defined arts component
  • there is a compelling financial rationale for subsidising these activities
  • none of the Australia Council funds will be distributed to shareholders.

Further detail on who can apply to the Four Year Investment program is available on our website.

It is the intention of this category to invest in organisations where the artistic activities funded through four year investment make up the majority of the organisation’s program. This is typically organisations that operate as small to medium enterprises. Large, well-resourced organisations or institutions seeking investment in multi-year arts programs may not be considered a priority for investment in this category.

  • As a FYIO you are not eligible to apply for the Arts Projects for Organisations category.
  • You are eligible to apply for government programs like Playing Australia, except if you are in receipt of Multi Year Playing Australia investment.
  • Other applications you submit to the Australia Council will need to demonstrate the activities are outside the scope of your Four Year Investment application or agreement.
  • Eligibility for other investment opportunities will be advised on a case by case basis as they arise.

Yes. You will need to demonstrate that your organisation generates diverse income streams; however, those income streams can come from any source.

Further details on who can apply to the Four Year Investment program is available on our website.

Trustee companies and Trusts are not eligible to apply.

We will accept your eligibility to submit an EOI based on your intention to change the company structure prior to receiving our investment.

If you have an overdue acquittal or outstanding Four Year Funding for Organisation reporting, you are ineligible to submit an EOI.

Yes, if your organisation is registered under, or by, Australian law. If you do not have a board or governing committee, you will need to explain what mechanisms you do have in place to oversee the effective management and sustainability of your organisation.

EOIs will open online in September 2022.

Information on the application process and key dates for the Four Year Investment program is available on our website.

The Four Year Investment for Organisations assessment is a two-stage process that maximises the notice period for organisations. If you are declined at the EOI stage, we aim to give your organisation 18 months’ notice. We also aim to provide at least 12 months’ notice of the outcomes of applications to Stage 2. We want to ensure that organisations can plan well in advance of any changes to their funding relationship with the Australia Council.

Yes, you will need to select from the following arts practices:

Community Arts and Cultural Development; Dance; Emerging and Experimental Arts; First Nations arts and culture; Literature; Multi-arts; Music; Theatre; Visual Arts.

Further detail on the EOI assessment process is available on our website.

The Australia Council expects to receive a high volume of submissions to the Four Year Investment program. The two-stage process aims to minimise the work required from organisations for the initial EOI stage. This is so that organisations that are not accepted through the EOI stage do not spend significant time and resources on the full application.

  • Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their EOI in June 2023
  • Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their Stage 2 application by December 2023
  • Key dates for the Four Year Investment program are available on our website.

Strategic plans will form part the Stage 2 application, closing in August 2023.

Further detail on the application process is available on our website.

Yes, but you will need to tailor your EOI and support material to make the case for your organisation’s contribution to the area of arts practice. We do not recommend you submit more than two EOIs.

If you submit more than one EOI, and you are invited to submit a full application at Stage 2, you will be advised under which arts practice area we will accept the application. Only one invitation at Stage 2 will be offered

The Four Year Investment category will not have separate assessment criteria for service organisations as was previously the case. However, organisations that deliver an artistic program and offer some services as part of their activity will remain eligible to apply to the Four Year Investment category. But please note, applications will be assessed primarily on the quality of the artistic program outlined in the application.

Organisations that primarily provide services for the arts may be eligible for investment through a new program called Delivery Partners. Delivery Partners provide key services for the arts as a whole, or within a particular artform area.

Delivery Partners are still required to submit business plans and budgets as part of their proposal, which is also reviewed by Industry Advisors who will make recommendations to the Australia Council. If approved, the Delivery Partner will enter into a negotiated investment agreement with the Australia Council. This agreement will include key performance indicators that measure the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.

The Australia Council will talk through investment options with service organisations that previously were funded through Four Year Funding.

We will provide further detail on Delivery Partners on our website in November 2022.

No, arts organisations do not need to have a national reach, they may work at any scale. However, arts organisations must be able demonstrate the quality of their artistic program and that their work is recognised nationally as an exemplar of its kind.

This means an organisation may present its artistic program for a local community or region but that the work is considered as being of high quality by peers in other parts of their arts sector or the broader community in Australia or internationally.

  • You can apply for a minimum of $100,000 per year ($400,000 over the four years) up to a maximum of $520,000 per year ($2,080,000 over the four years).
  • Further detail on program guidelines is available on the Australia Council website.
  • If your organisation is invited to submit a full application at Stage 2, you will receive guidance on the investment you may request. This may be higher or lower than the amount requested in your EOI.
  • Think carefully about the amount you request in your EOI. If the mismatch between your four year vision and the resources required is too great, this may affect the viability of your application.
  • Organisations that have applications approved at Stage 2, may also be offered an investment amount lower than was requested for the four years.
  • This is possible. However, the situation will be different for each artform given that the scale and diversity of organisations in each sector varies widely.
  • We encourage you to make realistic and well evidenced requests for funding in your EOI. The request should be informed by your current financial position and capacity, and your vision for Four Year Investment.
  • Further detail on the assessment process is available on the Australia Council website.

The level of funding for Four Year Investment and for Delivery Partners for services will remain at around $28 million per year. At this stage, we do not anticipate the overall budget allocation for Four Year Investment and Delivery Partners will change significantly.

  • There is no set amount to award by State or Territory.
  • The amount of funding available for each artform will be informed by an analysis of the funding requests for the Four Year Investment program and for the other investment programs we offer.
  • We aim to ensure Council’s investment reflects where each artform needs it most, whether that is for individuals and groups, or project/multi-year year funding for organisations.
  • Applications will be reviewed by Industry Advisors who will make recommendations for Council to consider when making the final investment decisions for organisations. The Industry Advisors will review applications under arts practice areas relevant to their knowledge and experience.
  • Industry Advisors will participate in both EOI and Stage 2 reviews.
  • The full list of industry Advisors will be published on our website following notification of the outcomes of Stage 2.

Further detail on Industry Advice is available in the guidelines on the Australia Council website.

  • To leverage our sector expertise and position as a national agency, a recalibration was needed of the Four Year Investment program to ensure effective, efficient, and impactful investment.
  • To ensure that our investment in the national landscape is distinct and strategic, we need to take into consideration a range of investments including state and territory investments, the National Performing Arts Partnership Framework (NPAPF) and Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS).
  • We are moving to an Industry Advisor method of assessment so that we can take account of the recommendations of experts in the industry while also taking a strategic overview of the entire national landscape. Industry Advisors will make recommendations after reviewing applications within an arts practice area. The Australia Council will then consider their recommendations within the context of a national investment portfolio across all art forms.
  • Industry Advisors will be artists, arts/creative industries workers, arts administrators/managers or other people with relevant experience and knowledge of an arts practice or sector.
  • The Industry Advice method of assessment still involves a significant process of review, commentary, and deliberation by external experts. However, it also involves Australia Council staff allowing for greater strategic oversight and greater capacity to shape the investment portfolio to meet the strategic needs of the entire sector.
  • Importantly, this model of assessment and decision-making remains at arm’s length from government.
  • We expect a high volume of applications at the EOI stage.
  • Only the most competitive organisations will be invited to submit a full application. Therefore, we expect the success rate at the EOI stage to be low.
  • There will be a smaller number of organisations invited to submit a full application at Stage 2; so consequently, the success rate will be higher at this stage.
  • The success rate at each stage is dependent on the number of applications, the size of the grant requests, and the overall budget available.

Will the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) be part of the FYI process?

VACS Leadership Organisations are assessed separately to the Four Year Investment process.

Your four year vision should ideally cover all (or a significant portion) of the period 2025–2028.

The EOI requires you to supply:

  • a summary of your audited or equivalent financial data for each of the previous three years, i.e., 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21.
  • projected high level income and expenditure for the next three years, i.e., 2022/23, 2023/24, 2024/25
  • The latest three years of your audited accounts, i.e., 2018/19 2019/20 and 2020/21

The stage 2 application asks for the following information:

  • projected financial information for the next three years entered into a budget template, i.e., 2022/23, 2024/25, 2025/26.
  • your audited figures for 2021/22

The EOI requires you to supply:

  • a summary of your audited or equivalent financial data for each of the previous three years i.e., 2019, 2020 and 2021.
  • projected high level income and expenditure for the next three years, i.e., 2023, 2024, 2025
  • the latest three years of your audited accounts. i.e., 2019, 2020 and 2021

The stage 2 application asks for the following information:

  • projected financial information for the next three years entered into a budget template, I.e.,2024, 2025, 2026.
  • your audited figures for 2022.
  • Yes. However, to be competitive, you will need to demonstrate your organisational capacity and viability. Factors that will strengthen your organisation’s capacity and viability include confirmed future funding and the track record of your key staff and board.
  • Further detail on applications, support material and the assessment criteria is available on our website.
  • Yes, please be sure to include the relevant support material and data with your application, so Industry Advisors can assess your application
  • You can use the certified accounts that you do produce to complete the financial data in the EOI, and you can attach these accounts as support material.
  • If you are approved for Four Year Investment you will be required to provide us with audited accounts as part of your regular reporting, so be sure to include the resources required to do so your future budget projections.

Yes. Please provide your organisation’s audited or equivalent financial data, and the forward projections for your whole organisation.

  • This situation probably the case for larger institutions like universities, local governments, or major galleries. Please note also that under of new Four Year Investment guidelines our intention is to fund organisations that make up the small to medium arts sector. Applications from large, well-resourced organisations or institutions may not be a priority.
  • Please contact our enquiries team to discuss your situation, including what financial data you are able to access for your program or business unit.
  • You will need to provide past audited financial data and accounts for your whole organisation. However, we may give you an exemption to provide forward projections that relate to your program or business unit only.
  • No late support material may be submitted for the EOI.
  • The only support material we will accept after the Stage 2 closing date is audited accounts for the 2022 financial year.
  • If you need to submit these accounts after the closing date, please send them to myi@australiacouncil.gov.au. Be sure to include your application reference number in the email.

    Please note: late support material is not distributed to Industry Advisors with your application. We make a note of it on file and bring it to the attention of Industry Advisors at our discretion.

Although letters of support are not specifically asked for in the EOI guidelines, you may supply them if you wish. You can include up to five letters of support, with each letter not exceeding one A4 page.

We encourage you to use one of the three URLs allocated for Artistic Support Material to supply letters of support, but if you prefer you can upload a PDF document in the ‘uploaded support material’ section of the online form instead.

  • You will not be penalised for providing additional support material beyond the recommended limit of 3 URLs, but we do advise against overwhelming the assessors with material. Make the selection that best demonstrates the quality of your organisation’s artistic output.

You need to provide:

  • a data summary of your balance sheet for the previous three years
  • a list of funding from sources other than the Australia Council in the previous three years.

Yes. All organisations, including those currently in receipt of Four Year Funding, will need to submit an EOI.

Find a list of the current Four Year Funded organisations here.

  • There will be no transitional funding offered to organisations currently in receipt of Four Year Funding if their request for investment in 2025-2028 is declined.
  • The two-stage process aims to maximise the notice period for all organisations. If you are declined at the EOI stage, we aim to give your organisation 18 months’ notice, and at least 12 months’ notice if you are declined at Stage 2.
  • The Australia Council is committed to working closely with organisations around the impact of the EOI/ Stage 2 outcomes. However, this does not include any transitional funding support.

The Australia Council will be in close contact with each State and Territory funding agency throughout the Four Year Investment process.

Yes, please be sure to include the relevant support material and data with your application, so Industry Advisors can review your application.