The peak body protecting and promoting the Australian visual arts sector

Have your say on the draft NPEA guidelines

Respond to the call for comment on the draft National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) guidelines.

The Federal Government’s Ministry for the Arts is calling for feedback on its recently released draft guidelines for the National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA). The deadline is 5.00pm AEST Friday 31st July.

The Federal Government’s Ministry for the Arts is calling for feedback on its recently released draft guidelines for the National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).

The deadline is 5.00pm AEST Friday 31st July. You are encouraged to send your comments to


This program is to be funded using some of the $104.8m over four years removed from the Australia Council budget without the Government providing any evidence-based policy to underpin its decision. The NPEA will be using resources that were previously allocated by the Australia Council to support individuals, groups and small to medium arts organisations, market and audience development activities, international engagement, strategic projects, capacity building, research and operations.

Instead, the Australian Government has said it will provide approximately $20 million each financial year for the NPEA. The remaining $6m a year will be used by the Ministry for the Arts to cover the additional cost of operations to manage this program and to support to other government programs including the Major Festivals Initiative (with support to be doubled to $1.5m), Festivals Australia and Visions of Australia and possibly a proportion of support for Sounds Australia. There are similarities between the objectives of the NPEA and those of the Australia Council, Community Partnerships Australia, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and this represents a duplication of resources.

With its remaining funds, the Australia Council will have to find ways to support Key Organisations, national and international development activities, capacity building, research and operations. With $22.4m already committed to key organisations until the end of 2016, there will be only $12m left across the two funding rounds in September 2015 and February 2016 for the other programs.

Australia Council funding program update
The next funding round for project support for individual artists and arts organisations closes on the 1st of September 2015. See here for details.


1. Objectives:

  • deliver a wide range of quality arts and cultural experiences that grow arts audiences, throughout Australia and internationally
  • strengthen Australia’s reputation as a sophisticated and artistic nation with a confident, outward-focused arts sector
  • encourage greater private sector support and partnership funding for the arts
  • support collaborations to develop arts and culture initiatives including in specific regions or priority areas.

2. Grant streams:

  • Endowment Incentives
  • International and Cultural Diplomacy
  • Strategic Initiatives

3. Grant Criteria

  • quality
  • access
  • support and partnerships
  • value for money.


STEP 1. Go to the website and read the draft NPEA guidelines:

STEP 2. Write a letter which provides:

- your credentials (as an independent artist or other arts professional, representative of an organisation, audience member, arts supporter, arts educator etc)

- the experience on which you are basing your comments

- the areas of the guidelines that you think could be improved and how

- your contact details (though you can choose to respond anonymously if you wish).

STEP 3. Attach your letter to an email and send by the deadline 5.00pm AEST Friday 31st July to


You may wish to comment on the following:

- NPEA will not accept applications for projects by individuals. You might want to refer to the cuts to the Australia Council’s budget for individual artists and whether or not your state/territory arts funding body provides this sort of support;

- NPEA will not provide operational support for organisations. You might wish to comment on what proportion of your organisation’s funding has previously come from the Australia Council and how you will approach making up for any shortfall in Australia Council funding;

- interactive gaming will not be supported;

- creative writing is not mentioned in the guidelines (though not specifically excluded);

- applications will be considered by the Ministry at any time in order of receipt.You may wish to comment on exactly how the Ministry could achieve its aim to ensure the ‘best projects’ are supported, and there is an appropriate mix across art forms and types of activity, between regional, urban and international projects and across a range of communities.

- there will be around three assessors - one or two of them will be ‘independent assessors’ working along with departmental staff. They will be appointed by the Minister and directly accountable to him. You may wish to comment on whether this meets the principles of arm’s length funding and genuine peer assessment

- the Minister can withhold information about who has been funded. You may wish to comment on the problem this raises with potentially politically motived grant giving being masked by a lack of disclosure.