Underpinning NAVA’s advocacy work is the research it commissions or undertakes itself into the nature of Australian visual and media arts, craft and design, identifying policies and strategic actions which could be taken to facilitate the sector’s fruitful development.


Current work

NAVA is an industry partner on three current research projects supported by the ARC Linkage program:

  • Visual Arts Work: sustainable strategies for the Australian visual arts and craft sector led by researchers from RMIT University and The University of Melbourne, and industry partners the National Association of the Visual Arts (NAVA), and the Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA).
  • Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum led by researchers at the University New South Wales (UNSW) and Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) with industry partners the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), TATE UK, Art Gallery New South Wales (AGNSW) and independent artist Shelley Lasica.
  • Empowering Australia’s Visual Arts via Creative Blockchain Opportunities led by researchers from the University of Wollongong (UoW), University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) and The University of Queensland (UQ) with industry partners the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT), CSIRO Data61, Copyright Agency and Australian Copyright Council.

NAVA also supports the longitudinal studies by Professor David Throsby on the economic circumstances of arts practitioners over the last three decades as well as The Countess Report, an independent artist run initiative that publishes data on gender representation in the Australian contemporary art world.

Craft and Design

Designing for a better Australia

Agenda for Australian Craft and Design

Recognising the importance of craft and design within an increasingly complex social, economic, and cultural ecology, at the end of 2009 NAVA began the process of establishing a new peak body to promote Australian design. The Australian Design Alliance [AdA] was launched in September 2010. Following this, the National Craft Initiative (NCI) was launched in March 2013.

Gender Equality

The CoUNTess Report

Countess logo

NAVA backs the research of CoUNTess: a report on gender representation in the contemporary visual arts released to coincide with International Women’s Day 2016. It reveals that there is a continuing imbalance of power with men holding more positions at senior levels and male artists significantly better represented by commercial galleries.

Indigenous Art Code

To promote fair and ethical trade

Indigenous Art Code logo

The Indigenous Art Code was developed in the first instance by NAVA and then by the Australia Council for the Arts, who worked closely with an Industry Alliance Group made up of artists, Indigenous art centres, commercial art galleries, public art galleries, auction houses and visual arts peak bodies; including the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists, Umi Arts, Ananguku Arts, Desart, Australian Commercial Galleries Association, NAVA and the Australian Indigenous Art Trade Association.

After a period of public consultation the Industry Alliance Group endorsed a final Code in August 2009. The Code was publicly launched on 29 November 2010.

National Visual Arts Agenda

30 Year Vision

Dame Quentin Bryce, AC CVO

Dame Quentin Bryce, AC CVO. Photo by Jennifer Brankin, Polixenni Photography, 2013

In December 2013, NAVA launched its National Visual Arts Agenda outlining a 30 year vision which would see artists play a central role in all aspects of Australian life and help transform Australia into a truly great art nation. The National Visual Arts Agenda is drawn from NAVA’s long years of consultation, policy development and advocacy on behalf of the sector.

Small-to-Medium (S2M)

Economic Study

S2M Report 2017 front cover

S2M Report 2017.

Image: Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Richard Bell, Morphett Street Mural, production view, 2016.

Photo: Marie Falcinella

NAVA commissioned Economists at Large to measure the economic and cultural output of Australia’s small-to-medium (S2M) visual arts organisations. Throughout 2016, we conducted surveys of urban and regional galleries, artist-run initiatives (ARIs), Australian Craft and Design Centres (ACDCs) and Contemporary Arts Organisations (CAO).

The data in this study reveals that the small-to-medium (S2M) visual arts sector employs over 2,000 people, puts $100 million into the economy and produces 26,000 new art works each year with a budget worth just 0.03% of Federal Government revenue. However, there has been a 17.5% decline in per capita federal arts spending from 2008 to 2013.

This research project was supported by a Knowledge Exchange Grant from the City of Sydney.

Visual Arts Code and Policy



In 2001 the four year Visual Arts Industry Guidelines Research Project (VAIGRP) produced:

  • The Code of Practice for the Australian Visual Arts and Craft Sector;
  • Ideas for Policy and Legislation;
  • a series of research reports on various aspects of the art industry.

The outcomes were used to inform the work of the Commonwealth Government’s ‘Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry’.

With funding from the Australian Research Council and a contribution from the Australia Council, this project was initiated by NAVA and undertaken in partnership with the Universities of Sydney and Macquarie and the Art Gallery of NSW, a year later joined by Simpsons Solicitors.

Visual Arts Big Picture

In 2005 the final report was released of another NAVA initiated major research project. The Big Picture: a Planning Matrix for the Australian Visual Arts and Craft Sector which studied the impact on the sector of five intersecting forces significantly determining its fate:

Government Policy;

Economic Environment;


Technological Change;

Community Attitudes.

The report identified key trends and made 22 propositions for action.

Again with funding from the Australian Research Council and a contribution from the Australia Council, this research project was undertaken by NAVA in partnership with the Department of Art History and Theory at the University of Sydney.

Sector Research by Others

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

Digital collage of dancers, grass and water droplets

This protocol guide endorses the rights of Indigenous people to their cultural heritage and supports Indigenous creative practice. This protocol guide encourages self-determination and helps build a strong and diverse Indigenous arts sector. These are key goals and priority areas of the Australia Council for the Arts. Creative practitioners who work with Indigenous artists or engage with Indigenous 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 Indigenous Australian cultural heritage, and encouraging meaningful collaborations with Indigenous artists and creators.

Lockdown and the arts

The Australian Institute logo

New research from The Australia Institute has found that more than one in two Australians agree that the Government should double funding for the Australia Council for the Arts to help support the arts during COVID-19, and the majority of Australians (62%) agree that online streaming services should be subject to similar Australian content obligations as televisions stations are.

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,004 Australians about how they have engaged with the creative arts during the lockdown on 8-9 May 2020.

University Art Museums Australia: Survey Report 2017-2019

Red logo for the University Art Museums Australia

University Art Museums Australia is a membership organisation driving advocacy and research on behalf of its constituents to enrich their respective communities, build networks and contribute to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life. Members are responsible for a university art collection, public facing gallery and associated exhibition, public and education programs. This report presents aggregated membership data collected from 22 university art museums over the three-year period, 2017-2019, reflecting the significant and dynamic roles they play in local and regional contexts, and nationally, as a major part of Australia’s cultural ecology. 

Australian Public Galleries Snapshot

Two people's hands holding with a purple overlay

The Australian Public Galleries Snapshot is a research initiative prepared by Museums & Galleries Queensland and Public Galleries Association of Victoria on behalf of the National Public Galleries Alliance. The Alliance is a network of Australian state and territory public gallery peak body and industry organisations working collaboratively to advance the sector. 

This report represents the first major Snapshot of Australia’s public gallery sector. It has been informed by the best available, nationally consistent information collected over a twelve-month period in 2017 and 2018. 

This Snapshot forms a benchmark from which the Alliance will develop a standardised methodology to capture and longitudinally report the ‘complete picture’ of our country’s dynamic public gallery sector.

Creating Our Future: results of the National Arts Participation Survey

Photo of man in hard hat and colourful shirt and necktie, speaking to a child, and showing her toys

Creating Our Future: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey is the fourth study in the landmark research series that explores Australians’ engagement with and attitudes towards the arts.

The survey was conducted in late 2019, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our world, lives and the cultural and creative industries. The survey results provide a benchmark of Australians’ arts engagement before the impacts of the pandemic, providing much needed information as doors reopen, audiences are rebuilt and the cultural and creative industries are re-ignited.

The report provides vital new evidence about the essential role arts and creativity play in Australian communities, showing the arts are a public good infused and embedded in the fabric of our daily lives.

Making Art Work

Making Art Work Report front cover

Making Art Work: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia by David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya is the sixth in a series carried out independently over thirty years by Professor Throsby at Macquarie University, with funding from the Australia Council. The series tracks trends in the lives and working conditions of Australian artists over 30 years and identifies challenges and opportunities for artists’ careers into the future. 

Connecting Australians: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey

Connecting Australians Report front cover

Connecting Australians: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey is the third in a landmark series by the Australia Council for the Arts, following editions in 2009 and 2013. It measures Australians’ engagement with the arts in 2016 – attending arts events, exhibitions and festivals; reading; listening to music; sharing and connecting with the arts online; and creating art themselves. The arts encompass theatre, dance, visual arts and craft, music, literature, First Nations and cross-art form work. Engagement with a person’s own cultural background through the arts is articulated for the first time, along with festival attendance and community arts and cultural development activities. The survey also captures the value of the arts to Australians through their attitudes, views about the impacts of the arts, and propensity to donate time or money to the arts.

Present State, WA

Present State An Inquiry Into the Visual Arts Sector in WA

Over the past few years, opportunities for visual artists in Western Australia appear to have declined, prompting calls from the sector to create a more sustainable industry.

In 2016, the Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) prepared this discussion paper to provide an overview of the visual arts sector in Western Australia to understand what is required to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the sector.

Recalibrating Culture: Production, Consumption, Policy

Khaled Sabsabi, Syria (video still), 2012

Professors Deborah Stevenson and David Rowe from the Institute for Culture and Society and a research team are examining the changing modes of cultural activity and participation in Australia. This project is funded by the Australian Research Council through its Linkage Projects grant scheme in collaboration with seven industry partners.

The purpose of the Australian Research Council Project - Recalibrating Culture: Production, Consumption, Policy is to understand the work practices of artists and cultural practitioners who live and/or practice in Greater Western Sydney. The research aimed to find out about the nature of artistic and cultural practice, how that work is undertaken, where it is done, and what is needed for arts and cultural practice to happen and prosper.

Private sector support grows for the arts in Australia

Viewer in a gallery

The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR), in collaboration with Creative Partnerships Australia, released new analysis on private sector support for Australia’s vibrant arts and culture sector.

The analysis estimates that private sector support to the arts in Australia has increased since 2009–10 from $221.1 million to between $268.5 million and $279.8 million in 2015–16.

First We See: National Review of Visual Education

Nora Speyer, aged 7, Lions, 2014 work on paper

Nora Speyer, aged 7, Lions, 2014 work on paper.

The National Review of Education in Visual Arts, Craft, Design and Visual Communication was commissioned in 2005 by the Australia Council with the then Australian Government Department of Education Science and Training (DEST) (now the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR]) and in cooperation with the then Australian Government Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) (now the Australian Government Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts [DEWHA]). A national Steering Committee of key leaders and stakeholders in arts and education sectors, including NAVA, provided advice about the Review and assisted researchers with important connections to key issues and problems.

Class at Work: Does Social Class Make a Difference in the Land of the ‘Fair Go’?

Diversity Council Australia's logo, which is the Australian continent, made from textile materials.

The research, based on a survey of more than 3,000 workers, highlights the experiences of inclusion and exclusion in the workplace in relation to workers' social class.