NAVA Win: Archibald Prize finalists to receive artist loan fee for the first time

Finalists in the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes now receive an artist fee, marking a significant step towards the recognition of artists as workers. 

In a historic first, all 57 artists selected as finalists for Australia's prestigious Archibald Prize, will receive an artist loan fee. This milestone marks the first time in the prize's 103-year history that finalists will be compensated for their contributions, with each artist receiving a $1,000 loan fee for inclusion in the exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).

This development aligns with the recommendations in NAVA’s Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Craft and Design (the Code). Endorsed by the Federal Government's National Cultural Policy Revive: a place for every story, a story for every place, the Code sets good practice standards for the professional Australian contemporary arts sector, addressing the challenges visual artists face due to lack of regulation and increasingly precarious working conditions. Its goal is to foster a collaborative, equitable, and sustainable sector.

NAVA's Code highlights that additional costs artists incur as finalists, such as framing, transportation, and insurance, often hinder participation in competitions. By paying an artist fee, organisers can alleviate some of these financial burdens. This is particularly crucial for art prizes with exhibition components where artworks are not available for sale, ensuring artists are compensated for the value they provide to the public.

This year, artists selected as finalists for the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes will each receive a $1,000 artist fee, in addition to the existing $300 exhibition touring fee. The $100,000 prize for the Archibald winner remains unchanged. The new fee addresses the costs associated with artwork display and non-commercial image licensing, aligning with recommendations from NAVA’s Code.

An AGNSW spokesperson explained the significance of this change to the Sydney Morning Herald: “As custodians of some of Australia’s highest profile and most beloved art prizes, we recognise the role prizes play in expanding opportunities for artists at all stages of their careers. The new fee is part of our ongoing commitment to support the artist community in a concrete manner.”

NAVA Executive Director Penelope Benton expressed her support for the new initiative: “The introduction of an artist fee for finalists in the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prizes marks a significant step forward in recognising and valuing the vital contributions of artists and their work in public exhibitions. This decision aligns with the Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Craft and Design and NAVA's longstanding advocacy for artists' pay.”

This announcement comes just weeks after the release of Artists as Workers: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia, commissioned by Creative Australia. This study revealed persistently low incomes among artists despite rising production expenses. The AGNSW's decision to pay artist loan fees for their art prize exhibitions represents significant progress in the recognition and equitable treatment of artists within the Australian art sector, ensuring their work is valued and fairly compensated.

Image credit

Winner of the Packing Room Prize 2024, Matt Adnate ‘Rhythms of heritage’ (cropped). Spray paint and synthetic polymer paint on linen, 220 x 188.5 cm © the artist. Photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter.

ID: A photorealistic portrait painting of Danzal Baker aka Baker Boy, Indigenous Australian rapper, dancer, artist, and actor. He is looking at the viewer, a landscape is reflected in his eyes. He has long braids, a subtle moustache and goatee beard. Brushes of red and blue paint are in the background.

NAVA Win: Archibald Prize finalists to receive artist loan fee for the first time