Industry News August 2020

Latest industry news from the visual and media arts, craft and design sector, August 2020.

In the News

Koorie Heritage Trust announced Blak Design, a new four-year initiative to foster Victorian First Nations led innovation within the design sector and provide a platform for nurturing sustainable, Indigenous-led and operated design businesses.

Award-winning critic and writer, Alison Croggon, was appointed as the inaugural Arts Editor of The Saturday Paper. 

It was announced that Sydney - instead of Melbourne - will host Van Gogh Alive, an internationally acclaimed, immersive exhibition celebrating the masterpieces of Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. The experience will make its Australian debut at Sydney’s Royal Hall of Industries later this year.

In Awards and Prizes

The prestigious 2020 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art awards were presented. Congratulations to Western Australian artist, Ngarralja Tommy May who won this year’s major Telstra Art Award, receiving a $50,000 award. Congratulations to Adrian Jangala Robertson who won the Telstra General Painting Award; Iluwanti Ken who won the Telstra Works on Paper Award; Marrnyula MunuŊgurr who won the Telstra Bark Painting Award; Siena Mayutu Wurmarri Stubbs who won the Telstra Multimedia Award; Jenna Lee who won the Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Award; and Cecilia Umbagai who won the Telstra Emerging Artist Award. 

The 2020 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Art Awards were announced. Congratulations to Clinton Naina who won the CIAF 2020 Premier’s Award for Excellence. Congratulations also to Erub Arts, who won the Cairns Regional Council Art Centre Award ($10,000); Paula Savage, who was awarded the Holding Redlich Innovation Award ($10,000); Toby Cedar, who won this year’s Ports North 3D Design, Sculpture and Installation Award ($5,000); Meredith Arkwookerum, who was awarded the BDO Emerging Art Award ($5,000); and Agnes Wotton, who won the Fibre Optics NQ Peoples Choice ($5,000). 

CREATE NSW and ARTSPACE announced that eight visual artists have been shortlisted for the 2020 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship. The shortlisted artists for the $30,000 Fellowship are Akil Ahamat, Tarik Ahlip, Tiyan Baker, Kate Brown, Dennis Golding, Julia Gutman, Nadia Hernández, and Kirtika Kain.

Artist, writer and academic Dr Sera Waters has been named the 2020 Guildhouse Fellow, receiving $50,000. 

Newcastle artist Michael Bell was awarded the $50,000 KILGOUR PRIZE 2020.

Photographer Sarah Rhodes won the major $15,000 acquisitive Women's Art Prize Tasmania for her work Paper Plane

The inaugural $4000 Joyce Spencer Fellowship was awarded to Dr Treahna Hamm. This new initiative aims to support textile artists based in regional NSW to develop and present new work. 

Artist Caroline Zilinksy won the 2020 Portia Geach Memorial Award - a portraiture prize for women in Australia - with her portrait of dancer Anthea Pilko.  

The four winners of the McClelland National Small Sculpture Awards 2020 were announced. Congratulations to James GeurtsMatt HinkleyKerrie Poliness, and Cyrus Tang, who each received a $3,000 prize. 

The Lester Prize announced 40 finalists for its 2020 edition. Congratulations to Willie Ackerman, Daevid Anderson, Jill Ansell, Anthony Bartok, Elizabeth Barden, Sam Broadhurst, Filippa Buttitta, Thomas Chandler, Doreen Chapman, Rachel Coad, Joshua Cocking, Daniel Connell, Serena Cowie, Stacey Evangelou, Jaye Early, Sebastian Galloway, Kierah Falkner Babbel, Andrea Huelin, Indra Geidans, Janne Kearney, Sean Hutton, Kate Kurucz, Jess Le Clerc, Michael O’Connell, Fiona O’Byrne, Nicole O’Loughlin, Sid Pattni, Oliver Shepherd, Lynn Savery, Lauren Snowden, Craig Soulsby, Loribelle Spirovski, Zoë Sydney, Jill Talbot, Wade Taylor, Datsun Tran, Ordella Wall, Jonathan Woolven, Marcus Wills, and Nick Stathopoulos

In Government

The Queensland Government will commit additional funding under the Backing Indigenous Arts initiative (BIA) as part of the state’s $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package. Funding will be delivered through two new opportunities including the First Nations Commissioning Fund and the Indigenous Art Centres Launch Fund

The Federal Government released guidelines for the $75 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund, an initiative part of the $250 million arts survival package announced in June. The RISE fund aims to reactivate the arts and cultural sector by supporting new events, activities and productions that require significant capital investment. Funding will be allocated in grants of $75,000 to $2 million.

The 12 members of the Federal Government’s new Creative Economy Taskforce were appointed. The taskforce will provide strategic guidance for rebuilding the Australian arts sector as it emerges from COVID-19, and assist in the implementation of the Federal $250 million JobMaker plan to restart the creative economy. The taskforce will be chaired by Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE and John Barrington AM, and consists of Greta Bradman, Adrian Collette AM, Li Cunxin AO, Rachel Healy, Ian Kew, Fiona Menzies, Alison Page, Paul Piticco, Dan Rosen, and Chris Saines.

The Federal Government announced copyright reforms that will provide greater flexibility to reflect the need for Australia’s copyright arrangements to evolve to support digital access, while also providing certainty to copyright owners, creators and users. 

The Western Australian Government has announced a $76 million Recovery Plan to support culture and arts in Western Australia. The recovery package includes a $30 million redevelopment of Western Australia's iconic Perth Concert Hall, a $15 million ‘Getting the Show back on the Road’ plan to reactivate live performances and touring activities, and $2 million towards the development of online portals for Aboriginal art sales and presentation of performing arts activities.

Victorian Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, has announced an additional $2.3m in funding as part of the Sustaining Creative Workers Grants program, which will support 373 independent creatives and micro-businesses across Victoria. 

Moorabool Shire Council in Victoria has announced a new community grants program, offering funding to support local groups and organisations in the delivery of community projects and events. 

Moreland City Council have announced $200,000 in funding to be delivered by two new grant programs. The Flourish Arts Recovery Grants program offers up to $5,000 to individual artists and up to $10,000 to collectives, ensembles and not-profit organisations. The Thrive Community Grant program offers up to $5,000 to community groups so they can deliver one-off projects that will benefit the Moreland community. 

VicHealth has awarded over $1 million in funding for 12 initiatives as part of its Everyday Creativity and Art of Good Health grants.

The City of Greater Geelong has announced the Arts Industry Commissions program (AIC), which consists of a series of new commissions designed to provide support to professionals working in the arts, cultural and heritage sectors who have been impacted by COVID-19.

The NSW Government has announced the recipients of a $10 million multi-year arts funding boost to support 58 small to medium independent arts organisations for up to four years.

The City of Sydney pledged funding of $1.4 million for the cultural and creative sector, contributing to 31 projects and fourteen grants.

In addition to over $10 million provided in annual arts funding, the ACT Government has committed a further $6 million towards supporting Canberra’s creatives through the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthering this, an additional 59 artists were supported with $449,425 through HOMEFRONT, and an announcement was made that $375,000 has been provided towards the new Creative Recovery and Resilience program

In Research

A New Approach (ANA) released their latest report, titled Behind the Scenes, Drivers of arts and cultural policy settings in Australia and beyond. The report draws on 70 years of Australian and international arts, cultural and creative policies, and unpacks four key policy drivers. It posits the notion that if we want our public and private investments in arts and culture to be effective and relevant, then we need to have shared motivations to make the investment matter.

The four key cultural policy drivers are: to unify around a collective Identity, to build a reputation with stakeholders, to support social improvement, and to engage with economic contribution. 

The key findings of the report are: 

  • Four key policy drivers underpin recent cultural policy globally: collective identity, reputation building, social improvement, and economic contribution. 
  • The four policy drivers can be deliberately combined in cultural policies to catalyse a range of specific effects emerging out of arts and cultural activities. 
  • When policy makers are not aware of the drivers they are using, and inadvertently use various drivers in combinations, they risk having contradictory goals. 
  • Considering the drivers that underpin cultural policy is necessary to planning the implementation of policy. Otherwise, policy intentions may not match the reality. 
  • Neither of the two major Australian political parties has significantly prioritised public expenditure on arts and culture more than the other. However, different governments have been influenced more by some drivers than others. At times, this has led some stakeholders to feel that arts and culture are being prioritised or de-prioritised, depending on whether those stakeholders value the same cultural policy drivers as the government of the day.
  •  The most effective cultural policies underpinned by economic contribution drivers take a creative industries approach and demonstrate how arts, culture and creative activities interact with each other to increase creativity and innovation across the economy.
  • The last decade has seen a greater concentration of different policy drivers in a range of policy settings across all three levels of government, and this has made arts and culture an increasingly complex area of public policy.
  • COVID-19 has accelerated innovation in the production, distribution and consumption of arts and culture via digital means. These trends need to be specifically addressed when updating Australian cultural policy settings for the 21st century.

In Organisations

Indigenous Art Code (IartC) in partnership with Macquarie Group, launched Our Art is Our Lifeline,  a new national campaign which encourages fairness through the ethical purchasing of artwork by First Nations artists, especially during the time of pandemic.

The ART ON THE MOVE Board has announced the appointment of Theo Costantino as the organisation’s new Executive Director.

Melissa Delaney has joined the Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT) as Chief Executive Officer. 

In Galleries

The Federal Government have pledged $600,000 over three years to assist Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art to acquire seven Papunya boards painted in the first critical years of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement in Australia.

Founded in 1980 by the Australian Government, the 8th of August marked the 40th Anniversary of Artbank, one of the largest and most diverse collections of contemporary Australian art in the world. 

Fremantle Arts Centre’s long-serving Director Jim Cathcart has announced his resignation after being in the Director’s role since 2005. 

The Board of Brisbane Powerhouse has announced Valmay Hill has joined as Chair. 

The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) has announced Sebastian Goldspink as the curator for the 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. 

Mariam Arcilla has joined the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art as the Engagement and Development Manager.

Gareth Hart has joined the Burrinja Cultural Centre as Creative Director and CEO, and Toni Kirk will transition from Acting Executive Director into the new role of Chief Operating Officer.

The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre announced it will undergo a $15 million artistic and digital transformation over the next two years.

Geelong Arts Centre announced Creative Engine, a new program which will allocate a total of $16,000 for local individuals and organisations.

In Festivals

Access Arts has appointed Madeleine Little as the next Festival Director and Hana Towas the Festival Producer of the third Undercover Artist Festival, Australia’s only professional festival that celebrates performing artists with disability. 

Adelaide Fringe have appointed Kate Costello as the new Chair of the festival.

Melbourne Fringe announced the appointment of Joel Bray, Rupert Sherwood, and Sonia Lindsay to the Melbourne Fringe Board. 

The Art Gallery of South Australia released attendance numbers for the recent 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres curated by Leigh Robb. 95,000 people engaged with the event online and  270, 689 attended the event in person.


On Wednesday the 12th August, NAVA facilitated Arts Day on the Hill - Australia’s annual focus on building sector capacity for sustained government engagement and lasting policy reform. This event saw 12 advocates presented at 5 NAVA-facilitated MP meetings on the day, while other Advocates arranged their own in-person meetings. There was significant social media engagement, with some 283 conversations achieving a 245.9K potential reach. This event follows the 18-week online NAVA Advocacy Program, which had 1285 people registered and 21 experts present.


Prolific Melbourne-based artist John Nixon (b.1949) passed away earlier this month. Celebrated as a seminal figure in Australian abstract art, he’s career spanned more than 50 years, leaving a memorable mark that will inform contemporary arts dialogue for generations to come. Among his accolades are representing Australia at Documenta 7 in 1982 and winning an Australia Council Fellowship Award in 2001. Nixon was a leading advocate for non-objective art forms, radical modernism, and constructivist ideas. He was well-known as a supportive mentor, teacher and collaborator, with a generous nature and was good-humoured.  

Devoted unionist and arts advocate, Paddy Garritty, has passed away aged 83. Known as the man who revitalised the Victorian Trades Hall and dedicated his life to advocating for community arts, Garritty’s passion for the arts and labour movements has shaped the cultural landscape of Australia.