How to use the Code of Practice in the classroom | Teacher Toolkit

This guide explains why it is essential for educators and students to learn about and use the Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Craft and Design in teaching and learning.

First published by National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) in November 2022. Written by Alise Hardy. Edited by Donnalyn Xu. Cover illustration by Claudia Chinyere Akole.

This resource is free to download and print by educators and students, and has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. 

What is the Code?

NAVA’s Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Craft and Design (the Code) sets out equitable, ethical and self-reflective standards for the professional Australian contemporary arts sector. 

The original Code was first published in 2001 - more than two decades ago. The sixth edition of the Code was released in 2022, as a valuable 21st century resource for an Australian visual arts sector that’s sustainable, equitable and ethical.
The Code covers good practice guidelines for the interactions between artists, arts workers and
organisations that work with them (like galleries, arts centres and schools).
Incorporating the needs of artists, arts workers, arts organisations, and schools, the Code has some significant new additions.

Should students learn about the Code?

Yes! The Code speaks to everyone that makes up the Australian arts ecology, including artists, arts

workers, audiences and consumers. This means the Code is relevant to students not only for the future but also the present. In other words, students are making art now, which means the Code considers them artists now too.

These include:

  • Principles, Ethics and Rights, which reflects the industry’sgrowing concern with issuesof justice, access, fair workand representation.
  • Ambitious and crucial recommendations for Climate Adaptation and Environmental Action and strategies for Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness.
  • Transparent guidelines, suggestions and approaches for both educators and artists working together in Education and Workshops.
  • A Glossary to define key words in the Code.
  • Learning about the Code at school means students will become professional artists with careers that are successful and sustainable, and arts workers that ensure artists are treated equitably, acknowledged correctly and paid fairly. Students will also be lifelong audience members and art buyers who understand artists are not only skilled at creating art, but also maintaining a business and public profile. 

Is the Code relevant to educators and schools?

Yes! Schools contribute to the Australian arts ecology and play an integral part in ensuring the future of our arts sector. Schools access and interact with artists and works of art online, at galleries and in classrooms. Schools also create, commission and display works of art by artists of all ages.

The Code can be used as a starting point to explore all aspects of what it means to be a contemporary visual artist, craftsperson or designer in Australia. It also guides educators and schools in ethical, financially transparent and culturally competent ways to engage with local artists in the classroom and community.
Educators can use the Code to guide their treatment of students as artists. Even as young people, student artists have several legal rights and educators have both ethical and legal responsibilities to ensure these rights are maintained.

How do I fit the Code into the Curriculum?

If you are teaching an Australian visual arts curriculum, regardless of your location, you are already exploring and using many parts of the Code. This is because all visual arts secondary and senior secondary curriculums are foundedin professional visual arts practice.

For example:

  • When your students are exhibiting or displaying their work, they areparticipating in legal obligations of copyright and moral rights under the Copyright Act 1968.
  • Or, when they are learning about Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP), appropriation or the gender imbalance in Australian national collections, they are learning about critical ideas that support ethical and equitable relationships with artists.
  • As the Code discusses these ideas, issues and topics (and many more) with straightforward suggestions and guidelines for every section, it is an invaluable resource to support teaching the curriculum.

The Code that EVERY educator should read (Links below):

This resource has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.