NAVA's new Code of Practice... almost there

A final progress update on NAVA's revision of the Code of Practice.

Photo by Jacquie Manning, 2022.

Next month, NAVA will release its new Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Craft and Design. Since it was announced that we would undertake this work in 2018, almost 2,000 people have been involved in consultations with varying degrees of input and more than 40 artists and arts workers were commissioned to first write a set of discussion papers and then develop the new Code in full. It’s been a tremendous undertaking, and we are so grateful to all of the advisers, consultants and writers for the many hours you all devoted to this major work, and for your insights, perspectives, collaborations and contributions.

Throughout August, various new sections are being shared with sector groups for feedback and we’re making changes as required with our copy-editor Monique Choy. At the same time, the new Code is undergoing a final review by the Arts Law Centre of Australia, Terri Janke and Company and accessibility consultants. A new custom-built accessible website is being developed to host the Code which will enable the sector to more easily navigate the content, which includes 18 new sections. NAVA Members and users of the Code will be able to contribute feedback via the new website to help us update and refine the guidelines over time.  

Claudia Chinyere Akole has been commissioned to develop the first suite of illustrations which will be visible online and in our marketing and promotions. Quotes are being received for Auslan and audio versions of the content and funding to support the full scope of that work is being sought. A plan for regular revisions and review of content has been made to ensure longevity and continued relevance.

NAVA also received funding this year to employ Alise Hardy and Andree Ruggeri to develop education resources about the Code and on its contents for school students, tertiary students, and gallery staff. That is underway and we’re looking to launch this new program in stages shortly after the Code is released in September.

In an unregulated sector the need for good practice benchmarks is paramount. They provide the standard which people working in various roles in the sector have agreed is equitable and ethical. They are a bargaining tool for artists, arts workers and organisations to negotiate appropriate agreements and also serve as an advocacy tool for the sector to improve the fundamental conditions of work and practice.

But the Code can’t be expected to do everything. There are other parallel measures for which NAVA is advocating for as part of the current consultation for a National Cultural Policy including industrial reform that sets an award rate for the visual arts, craft and design sector legislating the payment of artists’ fees and superannuation contributions, and extends access to the small claims jurisdiction in the Fair Work Division of the Court to assist artists to resolve disputes without recourse to costly legal proceedings.