August Advocacy Recap

An update on key issues NAVA is working on for Members, including legislating an Award, recommendations for superannuation and tax reform, ABS data collection, and impacts of AI on copyright.

NAVA has had a busy month advancing the profile of critical issues for Members through written submissions, briefings, meetings with parliamentary advisors and attendance at the Creative Australia launch. The key issues NAVA is working on include legislating an Award, superannuation and tax reform, accurate ABS data collection, and AI and copyright.

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Award for the Visual Arts, Craft and Design

As well as endorsing NAVA’s Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Craft and Design, the Federal Government made a commitment in Revive to include minimum standards and Award coverage of the arts sector as part of the upcoming Review of Modern Awards. 

NAVA has embraced this opportunity and continues to work on establishing an Award for the Visual Arts, Craft, and Design sector that sets clear and enforceable guidelines for minimum payment standards and employment entitlements. Establishing an Award is a real opportunity to improve career pathways, remuneration and structures to reflect the proper value of work in our sector.

In the few months since publishing the last update on this work, the NAVA team has been researching the existing patchwork of Awards or Enterprise Bargaining Agreements applied across a fraction of the sector; reviewing inconsistent data and information to assess the reach of a new Award; and discussing briefing documents with several industrial experts and researchers. 

An announcement about the timing and scope of the Modern Award Review is expected before the end of September. As we get deeper into the work, we will be calling on the sector to contribute in various ways. 

Artist Roundtables

NAVA welcomes the current commitment by The Hon Tony Burke MP, Federal Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and the Arts, to meet with artists around the country every month to understand income streams and business challenges and hear their views on cultural policy.

After connecting with many of the practising visual artists and arts workers who attended a recent roundtable co-hosted by Minister Burke and Allegra Spender, Independent MP for Wentworth, NAVA followed up in meetings with their advisors to make recommendations around the key issues raised that would significantly improve conditions of work and practice.

The recognition of artists as workers is a priority in the National Cultural Policy’s third Pillar, the Centrality of the Artist. To support this policy area, in addition to NAVA’s work underway for a legislated Award, NAVA recommends superannuation reforms to extend eligibility to visual artists, as well as a unique asset class for artworks and exhibition provision to Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF) legislation; tax reforms including tax exemption for art prizes, extended tax deductions for artists residencies and reintroduction of the low-income tax offset and the small business tax offset for artists; changes to Centrelink to adopt an income averaging process for artists’ fees and other forms of sporadic income and ensure employment-seeking activities include the professional work of artists and arts workers; a cohesive approach to building commercial markets for Australian visual artists globally as well as locally; and changes to NDIS certification and categorisation to ensure artists living with disability have access to adequate payment and support as workers.

Accurate sector data

NAVA was invited to make a late submission to the Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research (BCARR)’s Cultural and Creative Activity Satellite Accounts Methodology Refresh consultation. This work is another Revive initiative following urgent calls for accurate data from NAVA and others across the sector, including colleagues at RMIT University currently undertaking major research project Visual Arts Work: sustainable strategies for the Australian visual arts and craft sector. The industry’s capacity to track creative and cultural output was severely curtailed after the discontinuation of ABS’s Cultural and Creative Satellite Accounts, published annually until 2014. Most concerning, the full size and scope of Australia’s visual arts, craft and design sector is currently unknown. 

NAVA’s submission made key recommendations to support the accurate collection and publication of data across the creative and cultural industries on levels and types of employment, creative practice, geographic trends, revenue and how many are working other jobs. A more comprehensive picture of how the sector works is vital for understanding and communicating the valuable contribution of arts and culture to the economy and social wellbeing and for informing government policymaking at all levels. Read NAVA’s submission.

NAVA represented the interests of artists at recent industry roundtables hosted by the Attorney General’s Department on copyright issues, where one of the more recent topics centred on the impacts of AI. NAVA continues to advocate collaboratively with other arts industry bodies for a robust copyright framework that ensures creators are appropriately attributed and remunerated for the use of their work in AI training models and outputs.

NAVA also made several submissions including:

Launch of Creative Australia

On 24 August, NAVA’s Executive Director Penelope Benton attended the launch of Creative Australia, which replaces the Australia Council for the Arts. NAVA looks forward to working collaboratively with the new Creative Workplaces Council to embed the learnings from NAVA's Code of Practice, which sets minimum employment and payment standards for artists and arts workers. In particular, the Code’s new Principles, Ethics and Rights chapter makes important recommendations for safer workplaces.

State Arts Policies

NAVA recently made submissions to consultations for new arts policy in both Western Australia and New South Wales calling for state endorsement of NAVA’s Code of Practice; as well as  implementation and embedding of the recommendations made in the Code to state government agencies’ policies, procedures and practices; require all funded organisations to adopt a policy on artist payments at or above minimum standard rates as set out in the Code, and that funding levels are adequate to support those payments, including indexation of multi-year grants.

For a full list of NAVA’s recent work visit NAVA in action.

Victorian Sick Pay Guarantee

At the end of August, the Victorian Government extended its Sick Pay Guarantee program to provide eligible casual and contract workers in Victoria with sick and carer pay. Victorian artists and gallery/museum workers are now eligible for this program until 2025. This is a big win for visual artists and other precarious workers. Those who have signed up for the program receive minimum wage sick and carer’s pay when they are unable to work due to illness for up to 38 hours per year. More information on eligibility and how to sign up can be found on the Victorian Government website.

Note: It seems artists and arts workers are split across multiple categories, for example gallery and museum attendants or guides can be found under Sports and Personal Services while artists and other occupations are listed under Arts and Creative Industries.

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Image credit

Image: Amelia Dowling, too much | not enough, 2022, hand embroidery on linen, cotton, wood, 30 x 30cm. Courtesy of the artist.

ID: Photo of hand embroidered text on linen in a round timber frame, hanging on a white wall. In red cotton the text reads ‘too much’. Underneath this in pink cotton, upside-down text reads ‘not enough’.