VACS Major Commissioning Projects (Individuals and Groups)

This program funds new visual arts and craft commissions to be created for presentation nationally and internationally.

Installation view, ‘Jacobus Capone: Orisons’, UNSW Galleries, Sydney, 2022. Photography: Jacquie Manning. Courtesy of Moore Contemporary.

About the program

These grants deliver investment to individuals and groups as part of the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy. Each year a designated number of grants are available to each state or territory reflecting the population spread of the country of which the Strategy is based.

Grants of $100,000 are available. The new commission proposed must be presented to audiences by 31 December 2024.

In 2023 the program will award grants to the following states and territories:

  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia.

The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will both have grants awarded in 2024, alongside New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.

Please note that successful recipients of Major Commissioning Projects grants in this round are not eligible to apply for this grant again until 2026. They are also not eligible to apply to the Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups grant category until the March closing date in 2025.

Please note: Your project must consider the latest government advice regarding COVID-19.

Please read through the following grant guidelines.

If you need advice about applying, contact an Artists Services Officer

Who can apply

You can only submit one application to each closing date for Major Commissioning Projects.

You must be an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident, and a practicing artist.

Only individuals and groups that have a confirmed invitation to present a new commission at an institution before 31 December 2024 may apply. The institution can be Australian or international. Institutions are defined as a galleries or organisations with a publicly accessible space for the presentation of visual arts and crafts.

You must reside in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria or Western Australia (the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will be eligible in 2024, alongside New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.)

Please note: If you wish to apply to this program and have already received Australia Council funding for part of the proposed activity, your funding request must not support activity which has already taken place, or received prior investment.

Who can’t apply

You can’t apply for this grant if:

  • you have already applied to this closing date of Major Commissioning Projects
  • you have received a Major Commissioning Projects grant in the last four funding rounds
  • you have already applied to Australia Council for the proposed project
  • you have already received funding from the Australia Council for the proposed project
  • you have an overdue grant report
  • you owe money to the Australia Council
  • you are an organisation
  • you are an individual or a group from the Australia Capital Territory or Northern Territory.

What can be applied for

Investment to support the creation of new work or a new body of works.

Access costs are legitimate expenses and may be included in your application. We encourage applicants to ensure that their work is accessible to everyone. Budgets may include costs associated with making activities accessible to a wide range of people (e.g., performances using Auslan, translation to other languages, captioning, audio description, temporary building adjustments, and materials in other formats).

If you are a d/Deaf applicant, an applicant with disability, or are working with d/Deaf artists or artists with disability, you may apply for access costs associated with the use of an interpreter, translation services, specific technical equipment, carer, or support worker assistance.

Please contact Artists Services to discuss your specific needs.
 

What can’t be applied for 

You can’t apply for: 

  • projects or activities that do not involve or benefit Australian practicing artists 
  • projects or activities that do not have a clearly defined arts component 
  • projects or activities that have already taken place 
  • activities that engage with First Nations content, artists and communities that do not adhere to the Australia Council’s First Nations Cultural & Intellectual Property Protocols. 
  • funding to cover the artist fee or production fee that the institution pays the artist/s as part of their invitation to commission a new work or body of work for exhibition.  

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 must address three assessment criteria in this category.

Under each criterion are bullet points indicating what peers may consider when assessing your application. You do not need to respond to every bullet point listed.

First criterion

Quality

Peers will assess the quality of the artistic and cultural activities at the centre of your proposal. They may consider:

  • vision, ideas, and artistic rationale
  • benefit and impact on career, artistic and cultural practice
  • level of innovation, ambition, experimentation or risk-taking
  • rigour and clear articulation of creative, engagement or development processes
  • significance of the work within the relevant area of practice and/or community
  • contribution to diverse cultural expression
  • timeliness and relevance of work
  • quality of previous work
  • responses to previous work from artistic or cultural peers, or the public.

Second criterion

Viability

Peers will assess the viability of your proposal. They may consider:

  • capacity to deliver the proposed activities or services
  • relevance and timeliness of the proposed activity
  • skills and ability of artists, arts professionals, collaborators, or partners involved, and their relevance to the activity
  • realistic and achievable planning and resource use, including contingency and COVID-safe plans for activities involving public presentations, national or international travel
  • appropriate payments to participating artists, arts professionals, collaborators, participants, or cultural consultants
  • the safety and wellbeing of people involved in the project
  • the role of partners or collaborators, including confirmation of involvement
  • the diversity and scale of income and co-funding, including earned income, grants, sponsorship, and in-kind contributions
  • where relevant to the project, evidence that the Protocols for using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts has been adhered to
  • evidence of appropriate consultation with participants, audiences, or communities
  • where relevant, evidence that you have considered and addressed any access issues associated with your project
  • where relevant, evidence that you have addressed the environmental impact of your project.

Third criterion

Creation of new work

Peers will assess the contribution to the creation of new work. They may consider how the proposed activity will:

  • enable Australian artists to create new works
  • enable risk taking, experimentation and freedom of expression in the creation and realisation of new works
  • develop or extend the applicant’s creative practice
  • support a safe environment and wellbeing for people working in the arts
  • enable national or international opportunities for Australian artists and arts professionals
  • engage international audiences and communities with Australian work
  • develop strong partnerships and collaborations.

The types of questions we ask in the application form include:

  • a title for your project
  • a summary of your project
  • a brief bio of the artist or group applying
  • an outline of your project and what you want to do
  • a timetable or itinerary for your activities
  • a description of the outcome your project delivers
  • a projected budget which details the expenses, income, and in-kind support for the project
  • supporting material as relevant to your project, including examples of your work, bios of additional artists, and letters of support or permission from participants, communities, First Nations Elders or organisations.

Required support material:

  1. Presenting partner confirmation

Your application must include a letter of support from your presenting partner, evidencing their invitation to create a new work for presentation and their financial commitments to the project. Including, but not limited to, the artist fee and production fee they are providing.

Additional support material:

You are encouraged to submit additional support material with your application as outlined below.  Peer assessors may review this support material to help them gain a better sense of your project.

We do not accept application-related support material submitted via post. Application-related material received by post will not be assessed and will be returned to the sender. If you think you will have difficulty submitting your support material online, or need advice on what type of material to submit, please contact Artists Services.

There are four types of additional support material you may submit:

  1. Artistic support material

This should include relevant, recent examples of your artistic or cultural work.

Types of material we accept

Our preferred method of receiving support material is via URLs (weblinks).

You can provide up to three URLs (weblinks) that link to content that is relevant to your proposal. This may include video, audio, images, or written material.

These URLs can include a total of:

  • 10 minutes of video and/or audio recording
  • 10 images
  • 10 pages of written material (for example, excerpts of literary writing).

Please note: Our peer assessors will not access any URLs that require them to log in or sign up to a platform. Please 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 in the password field on the application form.

Other accepted file formats

If you cannot supply support material via URLs, you may upload support material to your application in the following formats:

  • video (MP4, QuickTime, and Windows Media)
  • audio (MP3 and Windows Media)
  • images (JPEG and PowerPoint)
  • written material (Word and PDF).
  1. Biographies and CVs

You can include a brief bio or curriculum vitae (CV) for key artists, personnel or other collaborators involved in your project.

Brief bios or CV information should be presented as a single document no longer than two A4 pages in total.

  1. Letters of support

Please note: As mentioned above, your application must include a letter of support from your presenting partner, evidencing their invitation to create a new work for presentation and their financial commitments to the project.

In addition to the letter of support from your presenting partner, you can include up to four letters of support, with each letter not exceeding one A4 page.

Individuals, groups, or organisations can write letters in support of your project. A support letter should explain how the project or activity will benefit you, other artists or arts professionals, participants, or the broader community. It can also detail the support or involvement of key project partners, or evidence consultation.

If relevant to your activity, letters of support must provide evidence of appropriate permissions and support from First Nations organisations, communities, and Elders. Please refer to the First Nations Protocols for more information.

  1. Travel risk management

Your project must consider the latest government advice regarding COVID-19.

If your application is successful, you will be responsible for your own COVID-19 safety planning and risk management.

If your project involves international travel, you must consider the costs and impact of quarantine and/or any additional travel and accommodation costs for all project participants. For the Australian Government’s latest travel advice, go to Smartraveller.

You are strongly encouraged to submit a one-page risk management and/or COVID-safe plan (in any format) with your application if it involves travel. If you require a template, you can download one here.

Frequently asked questions

You can submit one application to each closing date for Major Commissioning Projects. You can’t apply if you have received a Major Commissioning Projects grant in the last four funding rounds. 

You will receive your grant payment within two weeks of accepting your funding agreement. Please note we pay our grants in the financial year which they are approved. We will not adjust payment timelines to the particular circumstances of individuals. 

The deadline for applications is at 3:00pm AET on the closing date. We strongly recommend submitting before this. Administrative and technical support is only available during office hours (Monday-Friday) 9am to 5 pm AET. Late applications will not be accepted. 

Please refer to the Languages Other Than English page. 

We do not accept applications submitted via post. Any material received by post will not be assessed and will be returned to the sender. If you think you will have difficulty submitting your application online, please contact Artists Services. 

We do not amend, correct, update or change any part of your application once it has been submitted. However, if you receive additional confirmations for activities or artists after the closing date you may alert us to these, and we may bring them to the attention of peer assessors at the assessment meeting. These updates could include confirmation that a proposed activity will take place, a partnership has been secured, or funding from another source has been received. 

You can update us about such confirmations by contacting us. Briefly describe the nature of the confirmation and cite your application reference number.  You do not need to send us copies of confirmation emails from third parties – if we need to see evidence of the confirmation we will request it. 

If you wish to update your application once it has been submitted, but the closing date has not yet passed, you can submit a new, updated application and request to withdraw the original one by emailing operationsservicedesk@australiacouncil.gov.au 

Grant applications can be found and are submitted through our online system. If you are using the system for the first time you will need to register your details before filling out a grant application form. 

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application approximately 12 weeks after the closing date. Please see the guidelines page for the grant category you are interested in for more details. 

We define a ‘group’ as two or more individuals who do not form a legally constituted organisation. This can include co-collaborators and collectives.   

If you are successful in receiving a Major Commissioning Projects grant in 2023 you will not be eligible to apply for: 

  • VACS Major Commissioning Projects until 2026 
  • Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups until the March closing date in 2025. 

The Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy invests in individuals and groups that are Australian citizens or permanent residents only. 

We provide funding to practising artists. While you may not regularly earn income from your practice, you must be identified and recognised by your peers as a practising artist .  

No. If you have an overdue grant acquittal you will not be eligible to apply for any further grants. 

No. Only Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents may apply to the Australia Council for funding. Foreign nationals who are permitted to live and work in Australia by holding visas such as a Special Category visa or a Bridging visa are not eligible to apply. 

No. You must reside in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria or Western Australia to apply 

Yes. Early career artists are eligible to apply for funding through this category and a number of other opportunities listed on our website. 

Yes. If you have previously applied or received investment from the Australia Council for aspects or activities within the proposed project you are eligible to apply. You can’t be funded twice for activities that have already taken place.  

In 2023 the program will award one grant to a recipient in each of the following states and territories:  

  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia.

Yes. Projects must start after 1 April 2023 and end by 31 December 2024.  

Only individuals and groups that have a confirmed invitation to present a new commission at an institution before 31 December 2024 may apply. The institution can be Australian or international. Institutions are defined as a galleries or organisations with a publicly accessible space for the presentation of visual arts and crafts. 

Australia Council staff are available to assist you in understanding the purpose of the grant, application requirements, and submitting your application. Staff can assist over email, phone and using Microsoft Teams. We cannot review application drafts. 

Additional support can be discussed where needed. Where the additional support required is beyond the scope of what our staff can provide, we may recommend speaking to an appropriate organisation for further assistance. 

If you are applying as an unincorporated entity, unincorporated association, or partnership you do not need to have an administrator for your grant. However, you must be able to provide an ABN and bank account that are in the group’s name. If you cannot do this, you must nominate an administrator. For more information about this, please contact Artists Services. 

All individual or organisation grant applicants based in Australia must have an active Australian Business Number (ABN). Individual applicants without an ABN may have their grant administered by an individual or organisation with an ABN. Organisations operating outside of Australia do not need an ABN to apply. Individuals based outside of Australia may not need an ABN to apply, depending on their circumstances (please check with your accountant or tax advisor). 

 

The name of the applicant must match the name of the ABN and the name of the bank account we pay the grant into. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you cannot provide an ABN and bank account that are in the same name as the applicant, you will need to nominate an administrator for your grant. 

For more information about this, please contact Artists Services. 

No. You can’t apply for funding to cover the artist fee or production fee that the institution pays the artist/s as part of their invitation to commission a new work or body of work for exhibition.   

Grants paid by the Australia Council may be considered part of your income in a financial year and may be subject to tax. You must determine your own taxation liabilities. We suggest you consult your financial adviser or contact the Australian Taxation Office on 13 28 66. 

If you are GST-registered when you receive an Australia Council grant, the Australia Council will pay the grant amount plus GST. The budget provided in your application should be exclusive of GST. 

We encourage our applicants to seek funding from other sources to cover the complete costs of their projects. While it does depend on the size of your grant request, we would expect that applicants with large requests would also secure funding from elsewhere to cover all costs associated with a large-scale project. 

It is important that your Letter of Support from your exhibiting partner outlines their financial investment in the project and that the gallery/institution understands that if you are successful in receiving a Major Commissioning Projects Grant that it will not cover any of their costs. 

Yes. In-kind support refers to resources, goods and services (for example, use of a venue, materials, and people’s time) provided by yourself or others either free of charge, or below market value. Detailing in-kind costs in the budget is important as it gives peers a full understanding of the viability of your project and levels of support you are receiving. In-kind costs are also an expense so, when you save your application, any in-kind income you included will auto-populate to the expenses side of the budget. 

Grants can be considered income by Centrelink. The amount is generally assessed as a lump sum and could affect your Centrelink payment for the financial year. Artists who are running a business (even on a small scale) may have their grant treated differently. It is possible to have your grant paid to an administering body if you wish. 

Applicants should contact Centrelink on 13 28 50 for advice. Additionally, Centrelink’s Financial Information Service (FIS) is an education and information service available to everyone in the community and may be of benefit to applicants who also receive assistance through the social security system. To contact FIS phone 13 23 00.