What is NAVA doing in these changing times?

Photo by Sia Duff, taken at NAVA's Best Practice: Commissioning Art in Public Space, ACE Open, Adelaide, June 2019. 

In keeping with 2020’s theme of change and expecting the unexpected, the NAVA team has a new profile and a new home – be assured though: we are focused on these turbulent times, the commitments we’ve made and navigating the best outcomes we can for our Members and the sector.

Leadership Change

At the end of last week, I stepped into the role of Acting CEO here at NAVA. Esther Anatolitis was warmly farewelled on 20 August after three impactful years as our leader. She will of course be missed but has left us with vision and inspiration and we wish her well in her next chapter. As the team and I continue our collaborative work on revising the Code of Practice, NAVA is also embarking on its next multi-year strategic planning cycle. It’s an exciting time to think strategically about the organisation’s vision, priorities and next leadership model. 

So much has changed since NAVA launched its Strategic Plan 2018-2020 – an incredible amount happening in the last 9 months alone! We have many priorities to rethink as NAVA embarks on developing its next strategic plan. Importantly, NAVA launched a survey a couple of days ago to hear from you – our Members and subscribers – about what you want from NAVA and the best role we can play to address the challenges and opportunities facing the sector more broadly. 

The survey is being conducted by independent research agency NSF Consulting and should only take 5-10 minutes to complete. All your responses will remain confidential and no results will be attributed to any one individual in final reporting. NSF Consulting is a member of The Research Society and adheres to all relevant Privacy Laws.

There are 10 free NAVA Premium Memberships to be won for those who complete the survey. As part of this research, we are also offering paid opportunities to contribute to focus group work. You can express your interest by participating in the survey.

Internally, board and staff planning meetings are being facilitated by Sandra Fields. The next steps will be to review your feedback collected from the survey, hold further internal workshops, and then draft the plan in the coming months. NAVA’s new Strategic Plan will be presented to Members for feedback via online survey before it is finalised and released by the end of the year.

Arts Day on the Hill & NAVA Advocacy Program Recap

A massive thank you to you all for this year's Arts Day on the Hill collaboration. It's so important to be able to work together on skilling up and connecting confident, articulate advocacy for the arts all over Australia.

Arts Day on the Hill is our annual focus on national advocacy development for sustained government engagement with long-term policy focus. It was initiated by NAVA in 2019 and then supported by a generous three-year donation from Daniel Besen. This year, the program featured a strong online component of advocacy training and network building led by Esther Anatolitis well ahead of the day, with an intensive day of engagement on 12 August.

More than 1,200 people registered for the eighteen-week online advocacy training, at which 21 experts presented. 12 advocates presented at 5 NAVA-facilitated MP meetings on 12 August, while other advocates arranged their own in-person meetings (those lucky non-Victorians!), and there was significant social media engagement, with some 283 conversations achieving a 245.9K potential reach.

It’s been an amazing experience, building our skills together whilst learning from Australia’s leading experts in arts advocacy, policy, media and politics – especially at this time, to be able to lift our gaze to a bigger picture in the midst of a global pandemic. Our very last 2020 NAVA Advocacy Program: Arts Day on the Hill Debrief took place last Wednesday, where artists, Nadia Odlum and Sha Sarwari, joined Esther Anatolitis in reviewing our experiences and next steps, with Nicholas Pickard, former policy adviser and previous guest, joining half-way through to offer a national political perspective on the debrief. You can catch up on all recorded sessions here.

To help us review this year’s program and plan Arts Day on the Hill 2021, we are asking you to spare a couple of minutes to take this short feedback survey: nava.net.au/arts-hill-feedback/   


Last week NAVA raised a number of questions with the Office for the Arts in regard to the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund - the $75 million grant funding which is part of the Government's $250 million JobMaker plan to help restart the creative economy. Responses offered no surprises. At this stage, it will not be peer-assessed, decisions will be made by the Minister, individuals are not eligible to apply, nor will they accept the auspicing of individuals. Organisations can come together on a joint application with a lead organisation and a contract or agreement in place among that group. This is a great option for S2Ms. Applications open Monday 31 August, the first assessment period ends on 30 September 2020, and the fund will operate until 31 May 2021 unless funds are exhausted first. NAVA strongly encourages visual art, craft and design applications. 

NAVA welcomes the newly announced Creative Economy Taskforce chaired by Liz Ann Mcgregor and looks forward to contributing to their strategic guidance work to ensure that each element of this and future packages will be made available, openly and fairly, to everyone in the arts industry – artists, artsworkers, and those excluded to date such as local government and university museums, galleries and art schools. 

For the first time in Australia, the federal parliament has adopted a hybrid model this week with some MPs in Canberra and others contributing remotely. JobKeeper and JobSeeker extensions are on the agenda as well as the government's plan to double the cost of arts degree. As a member of the National Advocates for Arts Education, NAVA has contributed to a response to the Job-ready Graduates Package draft legislation, as well as written directly to a number of MPs and senators to oppose the reforms.

Yesterday, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP asked the Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts to inquire into and report on Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions. NAVA will be submitting a response to the inquiry and encourages you to add your voice, detailing the benefits the arts bring to Australia, and the significant impacts that COVID-19 has had on our industry. The terms of reference for the inquiry can be found here. Submissions are due by 22 October 2020.

Code of Practice Revision

Since our kick-starter consultation meetings with the sector at the end of June, Georgia Mokak, Holly Morrison and I have been working on a set of discussion papers with Dr Marnie Badham, RMIT University – School of Art; Laura Curtis, Terri Janke and Company; and Liz Martin and Daniel Savage, Accessible Arts. The papers present a brief overview of sector issues on various areas of sector activity, as raised in our consultations a couple of months ago, with key questions and discussion points for us to further unpack together. These will be put to a number of focus groups and released via broad surveys to form part of Stage 1 of our collaborative stakeholder engagement methodology. The purpose is to initiate discussion and feedback that will inform the drafting process in the new year. It’s been an insightful process thus far and we’re very much looking forward to sharing these with you soon, as well as hosting our next series of consultation meetings on the areas of the new Code that we didn’t get to in June.

If you would like to be involved in this work, please email Holly Morrison, NAVA's Best Practice and Finance Coordinator via hmorrison@visualarts.net.au with your name, contact details and area/s of expertise. If you identify as First Nations and are interested in being part of the consultation, please email Georgia Mokak (Djugun), NAVA’s First Nations Engagement Coordinator via georgia@visualarts.net.au to discuss further.

New Professional Development Resources & Courses

One of the overarching takeaways from our consultation work for the Code of Practice to date is that issues of accessibility, diversity, inclusion and cultural safety remain largely overlooked by artists and organisations across the arts and cultural sector. While addressing these as a priority will be central to the Code of Practice – both in the process of revising it, and in the final form of the Code itself, the NAVA team has been busy commissioning and developing new resources that we can make available now and adding links to existing material published by other organisations on our Guides page.

Tanushri Saha, of NAVA's Membership and Communications Team, has been working with our web developers on reformatting the Guides page to make it easier to navigate. Expect to see some helpful changes here in the coming weeks.

Justine Youssef, NAVA’s Professional Practice Coordinator is also developing an Online Reading Group Program to discuss the materials and resources available to Members, starting with NAVA's new guide for artists and organisations undertaking artistic projects with people of an asylum seeker or refugee background written by Safdar Ahmed. Details about this program will be released soon.

New Office

This month concluded a 30+ year accommodation subsidy from Create NSW for NAVA’s office at The Gunnery in Woolloomooloo.

Despite the challenge of a major office move during a global pandemic, a change in leadership, the delivery of a national day of advocacy for the arts and continued work on the Code revision, we are settling into our new temporary home in Darlinghurst while still practicing physical distancing. NAVA staff continue to work from home where practical and we encourage all enquiries to be made via email rather than by phone for now, so that we’re best placed to respond to you wherever we are.

The move also prompted some overdue archiving and in the coming months we will also be adding to the NAVA records already held by the NSW State Library, which were donated in 1993 and accessible here https://collection.sl.nsw.gov.au/record/Yj7QOO49.