In the late 1990s, based on
anecdotal evidence NAVA became more and more concerned about the health of the
sector. It successfully applied for Australian Research Council and Australia Council funding in partnership with the universities of Sydney and Macquarie, Art
Gallery of NSW and Simpsons Solicitors to undertake the four-year Visual Arts
Industry Guidelines Research Project. In 2001 the findings were published which
amplified those from an Australia Council research study, Arts Economy
1968-1998: Three Decades of Growth in Australia, which revealed that although
the Australian arts economy had blossomed and consolidated during this time,
visual arts and craft workers had the largest decrease in median income of all
individuals in the arts industry.
this, NAVA began an intensive advocacy campaign to influence the Federal
Government to undertake an examination of the state of health of the visual
arts sector. To engage the whole visual arts community, NAVA formed the
National Visual Arts, Craft and Design Network (NVACDN) comprised of a
representative from each of the sectors within the industry. Convened by NAVA,
this group continues to the present to have input into policy development and
to take co-ordinated action.
In answer to this
sector-wide call for action, the then Coalition Government agreed to conduct an
independent Inquiry into the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Sector (the Myer Inquiry). This was the first-ever Australia-wide examination.
Rupert Myer presented his Inquiry Report in 2002, the recommendations led to an
agreement by federal, state and territory governments to introduce the jointly
funded Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS). The
Cultural Ministers Council - representing all federal, state and territory
cultural ministers - announced the VACS and its eight aims as follows:
- A network of stronger and
more responsive art and craft organisations.
- An increase in the number of
high-quality Australian contemporary visual art and craft exhibitions and
- New opportunities to tour
major contemporary visual art and craft exhibitions.
- Increased grant funding for
individual artists and craft practitioners.
- Increased professional
support for Indigenous artists.
- Increased support for arts
and craft publications to provide opportunities for discussion about individual
artists and encourage debate about issues for the sector.
- Improved market exposure and
sales opportunities for artists and craft practitioners.
- Greater opportunities for
public engagement with visual arts and craft.