Revising the Code of Practice

NAVA's approach to revising the Code of Practice aims to cover all key areas of the sector while at the same time acknowledging that these areas overlap and interact. Photo by Sia Duff.

A Code of Practice is a practical guide to achieving ethical standards and principles in a particular industry. While most industries are guided by such codes, inconsistent application and gaps in NAVA's Code of Practice for the Australian Visual Arts, Craft and Design Sector means there are some areas of our industry operating without clear standards and principles.

NAVA’s current work on revising the Code of Practice is intended to create a twenty-first-century resource for an ambitious sector, by clarifying expectations and responsibilities when it comes to conducting business between artists, art workers, galleries, agents, collectors, sellers, commissioners, authoritative bodies and others. 

The arts sector is dynamic, diverse and multifaceted, but its lack of regulation and legislation, together with budget cuts and the increasing precarity of many of its participants, puts its sustainability at risk. We believe urgent action is needed. It is for this reason that this Code doubles as a map for ensuring a collaborative, equitable, creative and inclusive sector for current and future participants.


A layout of the headings and topics for the new Code of Practice

No other industry in Australia brings together such a vibrant mixture of multigenerational voices and cultural perspectives. The revised Code aims to cover all key areas of the industry while at the same time acknowledging that these areas overlap and interact. 

Each area should therefore be seen as points on a map, which includes, but is not limited to, principles, ethics and rights, payment standards, commissioning and funding, commercial interests and marketing, awards and prizes, studio programs, residencies and workshops. 


Revisions to the Code of Practice are being implemented through extensive research, partnerships, and consultations with public and private organisations, visual arts businesses and professionals, academics, industry leaders, working groups and feedback sessions. 

NAVA has partnered with CAST, Contemporary Art and Social Transformation research group at the School of Art, RMIT University. This partnership includes research and consultation to revise and update the Code. 

Additionally, further assistance will come from Ambitious & Fair: improving incomes & conditions for the visual arts sector, a research collaboration in development with Dr Grace McQuilten and Dr Marnie Badham from RMIT University, Associate Professor Kate McNeill and Associate Professor Jenny Lye from the University of Melbourne with industry partners and a national advisory team to be announced shortly. 

Since announcing this work as part of our Strategic Plan in 2018, NAVA has partnered with researchers and academics at RMIT, focussing first on developing guidelines for commissioning art in public space and new draft payment standards for artists and arts workers - both released to the sector in late 2019 as pilot pieces to this major revision. 

In 2020 we will continue to consult on payment standards as part of our wider research and consultation for the Code of Practice as a whole document. Our immediate focus is on expanding our partnerships with relevant organisations, liaising with industry representatives on loaning and touring, as well as looking more closely at the commercial sector, including the selling and marketing of art. Conversations will also be had about reaching fair conditions as a sector within the constrains of capped funding, collectively considering new models for new times.

In the lead up to publishing a revised Code of Practice in 2022, further research and consultation will take place across all areas of the sector, in collaboration with relevant networks, partners and advisors, including public galleries and touring networks, artist run initiatives, Aboriginal art centres, art fairs, commercial galleries and artists.


In mid-February NAVA will release our Code of Practice revision plan. This comprehensive outline will include a high-level sector stakeholder mapping and full timeline. 

Revising the Code of Practice