Artists’ Benevolent Fund

NAVA and Art Month Sydney have reinvigorated the Artists’ Benevolent Fund to make funds available for disaster and emergency visual arts practice recovery at this difficult time.

We are seeking donations from people who are passionate about making sure that Australia’s visual artists survive and thrive in their artistic practices, as they seek to deal with experiences beyond their control that can so tragically end careers.


The renewed Artists’ Benevolent Fund hopes to provide modest but useful one-off financial assistance to Australian visual artists in crisis as a result of fire, flood, storm, serious illness, major accident, declared state or national emergencies, or some other unexpected catastrophic experience.

It is not intended that the Fund should be used merely as a means of coping with current financial needs or to pay outstanding debts. Rather, the aim of the Fund is to support artists experiencing some form of crisis to continue to maintain their artistic practice, despite the debilitating experience that has befallen them. 

Funds are limited and applications will be considered in regard to the specific disaster situation. Artists can only apply once for a one-off payment in relation to that specific disaster. However, should another specific disaster befall them at a later stage in their career, artists are welcome to apply for a one-off payment in relation to that specific disaster.

The Fund might receive requests from:

  • Artists whose studios and/or entire bodies of work have been destroyed (e.g. as the result of fire, flood, storm, earthquake)
  • Artists who have suffered a major injury in their studio 
  • Artists suffering illnesses that impact on their ability to maintain their artistic practice 
  • Artists severely impacted in their practice by a declared state or national emergency, such as losing a critical work opportunity as the result of an event or activity cancelled because of COVID-19.

Your donation to the Artists’ Benevolent Fund will go directly to artists in times of emergency.

Double your generosity for double the impact!

With thanks to matched funding from Creative Partnerships Australia until 30 June 2020, every dollar donated to the Artists’ Benevolent Fund becomes two!!

The National Association for the Visual Arts is a tax-deductible fund listed on the Australian Government's Register of Cultural Organisations maintained under Subdivision 30-B of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Donations of $2.00 or more are tax-deductible.


Major donors

Small stone sculpture of a jersey kerb

Alex Seton, Small Obstacle, 2020, Molong marble, 1/50 (to be personally engraved with the supporter's name). Photo by Maja Baska.

To rebuild the Artists' Benevolent Fund, ClubB50 will raise $2.5m over a decade – that’s $250,000 per year going straight to visual artists. 

We need 50 donors to commit $5,000 per year for 10 years. That’s an incredibly impactful $50,000 donation that you’ll be making. 

And exclusively as part of ClubB50, you’ll receive a unique stunning artwork from Alex Seton, one of the artists who’s led the re-establishment of the fund.

All donations are tax deductible, so please give generously. Join ClubB50 and support our most visionary artists to create Australia’s future. 


Bert Flugelman (1923-2013) was an internationally renowned painter and sculptor whose works are in the public sculpture collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the City of Sydney and the City of Adelaide, among many other prominent institutions and locations. Twice during his artistic career, Bert suffered severe personal disasters which could have left him destitute, had it not been for the generosity of friends and colleagues in the art world. His appreciation of their support inspired him to see that other professional artists would also have access to financial assistance in times of dire need.

In 1967, in gratitude for the help he had twice received, Bert offered an Ian Fairweather painting from his collection to be sold and the proceeds used to establish a fund that could assist visual artists in extreme need. Artists Bert Flugelman and Guy Warren, stockbroker Michael Hobbs OAM (1934-2018), lawyer Shane Simpson AM, and accountant Tom Lowenstein OAM, were the Benevolent Fund Trustees, and the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) provided administration services for the Trust, from 1989 until it dissolved in 2014. 

In early 2020, following a devastating summer that touched so many, including the work and livelihoods of many artists, Art Month Sydney and NAVA invited donations to reinstate the Artists’ Benevolent Fund, so that artists could be offered some assistance in times of emergency.

We are re-establishing the fund at a time of very high demand given the COVID-19 impacts on the arts, and so we’ve framed these guidelines with that urgency in mind. Our aim is to be able to assist as many artists as possible in a timely way with minimal burden to the artist and no onerous application demands.

Application Guidelines

What the Artists’ Benevolent Fund offers

The Artists’ Benevolent Fund will offer eligible artists a one-off payment of $2,000 to provide immediate assistance following a disaster or catastrophic event in their lives. Pending the capacity of the Fund, the panel may consider larger amounts as appropriate to the need of the beneficiary.

Given the Fund will need to be accessed at the most difficult of times, its application process presents the minimal burden to artists, asking for an outline of the specific disaster situation as well as some additional information to give the selection panel the full context. 

The Artists’ Benevolent Fund relies on donations to ensure that as many artists as possible can be assisted. Twenty years ago, $1,000 on average was granted by the Fund. Since that time, artists’ average incomes have not changed, however, the costs of carrying out a professional practice have increased significantly. The Fund has now set its average grant-making at $2,000. No budget or other financial documents will need to be provided as the Fund aims to assess grants with efficiency, thus the one-off payment of just the one amount. 


The applicant must be:

  • An Australian citizen or resident, and
  • A professional practitioner in the visual arts, regardless of career stage.

Assessment of whether you can be regarded as a practicing artist will be based on how well overall you meet NAVA’s criteria listed below. No single indicator is determinative. A practicing artist may:

  • seek to build a reputation as a professional artist
  • make attempts to bring their work to the public or relevant market
  • have regular public exhibitions of their artwork
  • offer work for sale, or sell artwork
  • have work acquired for public or private collections
  • secure work, commissions or consultancies on the basis of their professional expertise
  • secure residencies, teach, lecture or give public talks
  • be eligible to apply for or have been awarded government grants
  • secure awards or prizes
  • seek philanthropic patronage or sponsorship
  • carry out work in a business-like manner (e.g. keep financial records, have
  • formal written contracts or agreements, have a written business plan)
  • regularly participate in activities designed to promote their work including by establishing a website and carrying out other marketing activities
  • achieve industry or peer recognition through published works, critical texts or media profile
  • rent, lease or own space dedicated for an art purpose
  • be professionally qualified or have equivalent experience typical of others in the industry
  • be a member of a professional association or union (such as NAVA).

The Fund will prioritise applications from artists whose specific disaster situation is not covered by an insurance policy.

NAVA employees and board members are not eligible to apply.


NAVA is entered on the Register of Cultural Organisations (ROCO), and is subject to various obligations as a consequence of that registration. One such requirement is that any provision of financial support by NAVA to any artists must be consistent with or in furtherance of NAVA’s constitutional objects of promoting one or more specified cultural forms, and supporting artists to develop, grow and sustain their arts or cultural practice. Consistent with this object, the specific aim of the Artists' Benevolent Fund is to support artists who have experienced or are experiencing a crisis that significantly impacts on them in the pursuit of their artistic practice.

Artists will be required to submit an application. This will be straightforward and non-burdensome, offering the information that’s needed for a granting decision to be made. The artist will be expected to describe how the funds are intended to be used to enable the artist to develop, grow and sustain their arts or cultural practice.

The Fund is designed to ensure that recipients of support will only use the funding provided in ways that enable them to develop, grow and/or sustain and maintain their artistic practice in the context of the catastrophic event that has occurred to them.

Decisions will be determined by a small panel appointed by NAVA and Art Month Sydney whose composition will be more than 50% artists.

The panel will convene to make funding decisions as they come in, so that applicants receive a response as quickly as possible. The Fund will aim to respond to applicants within two to three weeks of receiving an application.

The decision to award assistance is a matter for the absolute discretion of the panel. Their decisions will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. The panel will have the right to impose such terms as they consider appropriate.

There will be basic requirements placed on the recipient as a condition of the award or grant. For example, the artist will be required to report on the use of the Funds received.

Opening the Fund to applications

Applications are now open and there is no deadline date for submissions. 

Please note, funds are limited and we continue to seek donations to ensure that as many artists as possible can be assisted.

Art Month Sydney and NAVA logos
NAVA gratefully acknowledges the advice and support of its pro bono legal partner, Arnold Bloch Leibler.