Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy (VACS)

Policy Framework 2021 – 2024

The Australia Council delivers the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS), which is a formal agreement between the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to support the Australian contemporary visual arts sector by providing directed funding for individual artists, arts and craft organisations, arts events and artist run initiatives.

October 2019

At the Meeting of Cultural Ministers held in Adelaide on Friday 11 October 2019, Ministers agreed to a new Visual Arts and Craft Strategy Policy Framework for 2021–2024.

The Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) has been a valuable partnership between governments since 2003, and has been highly successful in meeting its original aim of providing stability to Australia’s visual arts and craft sector. Funding delivered through VACS, which has become an integral and essential component of visual arts and craft funding across all jurisdictions, has provided the sector with increased resilience, allowing it to take a strategic, long-term approach to addressing issues and pressures.


Purpose

To deliver a nationally coordinated joint package of funding and support for the Australian contemporary visual arts sector that promotes creative work by living visual artists and craft practitioners, and the organisations that support their practice – adapted from Report of the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry 2003 (the Myer Report).


Objectives

The following objectives apply to all funding under VACS:

Deepen audience engagement through critical discussion about individual artists and works; new approaches to audience engagement and market development, including the use of digital and online platforms; enhanced international engagement; and high quality touring exhibitions and events.

Expand markets and enhance international connections through market exposure and opportunities to leverage private sector support, including a particular focus on strengthening the profile of Australian arts and craft practitioners in international markets through activities such as residencies, exhibitions and fellowships.

Ensure opportunities for Australian contemporary visual artists through funding to create new work and support innovation and a diversity of practice; provide professional development opportunities; and support for artist run initiatives.

Provide professional support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists through funding to Indigenous visual arts industry service organisations and other visual arts organisations as needed to address service delivery gaps, enhance creative practice and provide professional opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts workers.

Build stronger, more resilient visual arts and craft organisations through business stability that drives stronger governance, innovation and art-form development, and major events and exhibitions.


Funding framework

Funding for VACS is a commitment of all governments in Australia, as agreed through the Meeting of Cultural Ministers (MCM). The Australian Government has committed 50 per cent of overall funding with states and territories, as a whole, matching the Australian Government contribution[1] on the basis of a formula agreed to by Cultural Ministers in 2003.

Funding is delivered via two streams:

A.  National priorities: the national stream delivers on Australian Government priorities and supports organisations and individuals that demonstrate their contribution to meeting the objectives of VACS at a national level, while also demonstrating the value they add to states and territories.

B.  State and territory priorities: the state and territory stream supports organisations and individuals that demonstrate their contribution to VACS at a state and territory level, while also demonstrating the value they add nationally.

Organisations may receive funding from both streams and to the extent it is possible, streamlined administrative arrangements will be applied.


[1] The Australian Government contribution matched by states and territories does not include funding for the Contemporary Touring Initiative, which is additional, unmatched contribution towards the objectives of the Strategy.


The VACS logos can be accessed here.

Additional information

Once you submit your application, we will send you an email acknowledging receipt of your application.

After you submit your application, we first check it meets the eligibility criteria for the grant or opportunity to which you are applying.

Applications to the Australia Council Grant Programs are assessed by arts practice peer panels against the published assessment criteria for the relevant grant program.

We aim to notify you of the outcome of your application no later than 12 weeks after the published closing date for the applicable grant round.

Once all applications have been assessed, you will be contacted about the outcome of your application. If you have been successful, you will also be sent a funding agreement. This outlines the conditions of funding, how you will be paid and your grant reporting requirements. The following pages outline these stages in more detail.

If your application is successful, you will receive an email advising you a grant is offered. You must then agree to the conditions of your grant, which represents the Australia Council’s contract with you – this can be done online, by email or by letter. Payment of a grant will not be made until the grant conditions have been agreed and accepted by all the relevant parties.

You should not start a project that depends on a grant until all relevant parties have agreed and accepted the grant conditions and we have evidence of such acceptance on file.

Standard grant conditions require you to, among other things:

  • seek prior approval for making a change to a funded project (for example, changes in the activity budget; changes to key creative personnel; or changes to start or end dates)
  • respond to requests for information about the project or grant
  • satisfactorily account for how the grant is spent (if you do not you will be required to return all monies for which you cannot satisfactorily account)
  • comply with all applicable laws
  • acknowledge the Australia Council’s support in all promotional material associated with the project; this includes use of the Australia Council’s logo and a standard text of acknowledgement.
  • provide artistic and financial acquittal reports at the end of the project
  • return any unspent grant funds at the completion of your project or on notice from us to return such unspent funds.

Grant agreements must be signed by a legal entity – either a legally constituted organisation or an individual. For unincorporated groups, see the section on administered grants

All individual or organisation grant applicants based in Australia must have an 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 into which we pay the funds. There are no exceptions to this rule. If applicants cannot provide an ABN and bank account that are in the same name as the applicant’s name, they will need to nominate an administrator for their grant.

Groups/ensembles/collectives, unincorporated associations/ unincorporated entities and other bodies with no legal status do not need an administrator if they have an active Australian Business Number (ABN) and bank account in their name. If they are unable to provide an active ABN and bank account that matches the name of the applicant, they must nominate an administrator. The name of the administrator must match the name of the ABN and bank account into which funds are paid if the application is successful.

If we approve your application you will need accept the conditions of the grant in a funding agreement.

After you accept your funding agreement online, we will automatically generate a payment for the grant on your behalf. You do not need to send us an invoice.

We will pay grant funds directly into your nominated bank account within two weeks after acceptance of the funding agreement. Grant payments cannot be postponed.

If you do not wish to have the grant funds paid directly into your bank account you can choose to have your grant administered by another individual or legally constituted organisation (Doesn’t apply to Arts Projects – Organisations).

When you apply, you will be asked to provide an active Australian Business Number or ‘ABN’. The ABN that you provide must correspond to the name of the applicant (or the administering body, if one has been nominated). When you accept your funding agreement, you will be asked to enter the details of the bank account you wish the grant to be paid into. The name associated with that bank account must correspond to the name in which the ABN has been registered.

Download the Australia Council for the Arts logo guidelines here.

Download the Major Festivals Initiative logo guidelines here.

Grant reports are required on completion of your project. Acquitting a grant means accurately reporting on the funded activities and the expenditure of Australia Council funding.

Please read your funding agreement to check details of the grant acquittal material you should provide.

The grant acquittal report is where you tell us:

  • how you spent your grant
  • what the artistic outcomes of your funded activity were.

If you do not provide a satisfactory grant report at the times and in the manner detailed in your funding agreement, the Australia Council will not make any further payments that may be due to you, and you will not be eligible  to apply for further grants.

If you do not provide a satisfactory grant report, the Australia Council may ask you to pay back all or part of the funding provided to you.

Grant reports are used by the Australia Council to fulfil obligations of accountability to the Australian Government. They are also essential to the development work of the Australia Council. The reports help us evaluate the achievements of funded activities, monitor the effectiveness of grant categories and ensure our policy development is consistent with the experience of artists in the field.

Reporting for Multi-year Funded Organisations

Organisations in receipt of multi-year funding are required to submit financial, statistical, and artistic reporting on an annual basis.

All reporting is submitted online via the Australia Council’s arts organisations reporting system.

If you are not sure what reporting you need to submit as part of your annual reporting, or what information to provide, please get in touch with your Australia Council contact.

All recipients must acknowledge that the Australia Council provided funding for their activities. When you acquit your grant, we will ask you how you acknowledged the Australia Council.

For printed or online material use our logo and this phrase:

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body OR The (company name) is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Logos for download and guidelines for the use of our logos.

Where projects do not have a public outcome, or do not produce any printed or online material, you will need to think about how best to acknowledge the Australia Council funding.