Revising the Code of Practice: A Collaborative Plan

This plan outlines the collaborative work that will create the next full revision of the Code of Practice for the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Craft & Design Sector.

The Code sets the national best practice standards for the sector, providing a set of practical and ethical guidelines for the conduct of business between art, craft and design practitioners and galleries, agents, dealers, retailers, buyers, sponsors and partners, commissioners, employers and the managers of residencies, workshops, competitions, prizes and awards, and more. 

This update is not a partial but a full revision of the Code, creating a valuable twenty-first-century resource for a sector that’s ambitious and fair.

Illustration of 3 hands on a map

Illustration by Emily Johnson

About this plan

The Code of Practice for the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Craft and Design Sector (the Code) provides a set of best practice, ethical guidelines for the conduct of business between arts practitioners and arts sector employers in the Australian visual arts sector.

The Code was first published in 2001. While the Code has undergone a number of incremental revisions, so much has changed over the last two decades and this resource is now out-of-date and out-of-step with current legal, social, virtual and economic conditions. A series of recent consultations revealed there was great demand from artists and organisations for a full revision and expansion of the Code in order to provide a timely, trusted, accessible resource and best-practice reference for the contemporary arts sector. 

NAVA is currently undertaking a major revision of the Code, working with academic, legal and industry partners as well as consulting widely all over Australia. 

The aim is to collaboratively co-author a full draft of a set of principles and an ethical framework for accountability/responsibility of artists and organisations alike to support inclusion and accessibility for artists, arts venues and their audiences. 

The overlapping stages of the project intend to allow time for deliberative consultation of draft content and design. Working in partnership with RMIT School of Art to develop strategies to implement the new Code, as well as commissioning independent practitioners and arts workers as well as Terri Janke Indigenous Lawyers and Accessible Arts to develop and publish discussion papers on all areas to inform sector-wide consultation which will be done via roundtables, interviews, and a sector wide survey. In addition, full revisions to the existing ‘Fees and Wages Schedule’ will also be updated and expanded to reflect emerging and established practices, underpinned by a validated, comprehensive, ethical framework.

The new Code of Practice, once implemented, will more accurately reflect the contemporary practices and needs of Australian artists and arts workers, and further promote the development of a robust arts ecology that can sustain and support artists’ careers while preparing organisations, institutions and policymakers for working with, and for, artists in financially transparent, culturally competent and ethical ways.

How to contribute

Discussion papers

In consultation with artists, arts workers, Terri Janke and Company, Accessible Arts and RMIT School of Art, NAVA has developed discussion papers since the Code consultations in 2020 and 2021 and they are now available for your review and comment.


We have conducted open consultations on various topics to be covered in the revised Code of Practice including awards, prizes and competitions, residencies, workshops, exhibiting, commissioning new work, loans, touring and funding.

Click on the links below to view the consultation graphic recordings, learnings and next steps.

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Stakeholder engagement is essential to designing a Code that will be practical and useful for the sector. NAVA is proposing to deliver this comprehensive, new Code of Practice via a ten-step process:

  1. Focus group to develop map for the new Code structure;   
  2. Industry consultation meetings online;
  3. A series of discussion papers are prepared in partnership with RMIT School of Art, Terri Janke and Company, and Accessible Arts. The papers are distributed to the industry for feedback. Each discussion paper has a specific focus area and will be staggered to allow time for consideration and conversation; 
  4. NAVA convenes a number of meetings with different groups to discuss issues raised in the consultations, develop accessible formats and tools for the new Code, as well as to synthesise and validate processes; 
  5. Further consultation and feedback based on review of the discussion papers;
  6. New sections for the Code are co-authored and shared with the industry for feedback;  
  7. Artists and designers are commissioned to develop visual material for the new Code;
  8. A plan is established for regular revisions and review of content in order to ensure longevity and continued relevance;
  9. Final edit of the Code together with design and layout;
  10. The new Code will be launched in 2022 via a campaign to build awareness for implementation and pro-active adoption of the new standards by artists, organisations, institutions and policymakers.