Following extensive industry collaboration, the National Visual Arts Association (NAVA) has soft-launched the new Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Crafts and Design. NAVA’s comprehensive review ensures that the Code continues to reflect fair, ethical and self-reflective standards.

“Co-designed and co-authored, the new Code is a celebration of best practices. This comprehensive resource has been authored by over thirty arts practitioners, each with lived experience in their field,” said NAVA Chief Executive Penelope Benton.

“I was honored to be part of the process. I worked with NAVA many years ago to develop the Valuing Art, Respecting Culture protocols, and later with the Australian Council for the Arts protocols for the use of First Nations cultural and intellectual property in the arts,” said attorney Terri Janke.

“NAVA supports an equitable and thriving arts sector. This Code is a practical guide to best practices for all artists and arts organizations. The Code addresses all aspects of visual arts practice, including the creation, commissioning, sale and exhibition of works and funding.

“It also includes updates and new chapters on social media, racial equity and access rights. This update is timely in a rapidly changing and expanding industry. Above all, it guides readers on the considerations to take into account when working with First Nations artists.

“The Code promotes respect and self-determination for all First Nations artists and supports an arts sector enriched by the celebration of First Nations art and knowledge.

“The Code exemplifies leading arts administrative practice and helps lay the foundations for a strong Australian visual arts sector,” said Janke.

“The 2022 review represents the first comprehensive review since 2009. The Code has been restructured and significantly expanded, with an opening new chapter covering principles, ethics and rights, reflecting growing industry concerns about issues of justice, access, fair work and representation,” said Pénélope Benton.

“The sixth edition of the Code also includes a comprehensive revision of payment standards for artists and arts workers. Without a legislated industry award for the visual arts, crafts and design sector, the new code serves as both a map and an advocacy tool to support the proper payment of artists and arts workers .

Other key changes and additions include:

  • New sections in the Principles, Ethics and Rights chapter on First Nations, D/Deaf and Disability Access Rights, Racial Equity and Representation, Gender Equity, Fair Application Processes, freedom of expression, climate adaptation and environmental action, emergency response and disaster preparedness, community engagement, social media, and grievance and dispute resolution.
  • New sections in the Code on Artist-Run Initiatives (ARI), working with First Nations art centers, traveling exhibitions, festivals, funding and sponsorship.
  • Greater support for access rights, Indigenous cultural and intellectual property (ICIP), and other specific considerations for working with integrated First Nations practitioners everywhere.

The sixth edition of the Code was developed through extensive partnerships, consultation feedback sessions and working groups over three years with over 2,000 artists, arts workers and organizations across Australia.

“Through hundreds of discussions, NAVA has presented this revised code balancing the complex needs of artists, artistic workers with a diverse system of galleries and museums,” said Brett Adlington, CEO of M&G NSW.

“While the primary driver of the Code is an agreed standard for fair wages for artists; there are many things here that support museum and gallery practice, including appropriate work with First Nations artists and communities; support people with access needs; integrating environmental standards and policies to insurance, tax and WHS information.

The Code is available on a new digital platform with improved aspects of design, function and access. NAVA is currently seeking additional funding to support the second stage of the Code rollout, which will include additional accessibility features such as Auslan interpretations for key sections, visual tools and audio media to redesign the way people access and interact with the content of the Code online.

NAVA will maintain the Code as a living document, continuing to adapt and evolve in response to industry developments. The artistic community is invited to collaborate with NAVA through the online feedback framework integrated into the new Code website.

In 2023, NAVA will host a series of online training workshops with support materials to help current and future visual arts practitioners understand and apply the new Code.

NAVA would like to thank the Disability Focus Group of eight d/Deaf and disabled artists and arts workers across Australia, Terri Janke and Company, Arts Law Center of Australia, Accessible Arts, editor Monique Choy, freelance editor Margaret Mayhew, Code of Practice Project Manager Rhianna Pezzaniti and many leading artists and arts workers, public and commercial galleries, agencies and organizations for their generous collaboration, support and assistance in writing of the new Code.

This project was supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Arts Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the NSW Government through Create NSW.


For more information on the new Code of Practice for Visual Arts, Crafts and Design, visit: www.visualarts.net.au for details.

Image: Contributors to the new code of practice: (LR) Laura Curtis and Terri Janke (Terri Janke and Company), Vanessa Low, Sue Jo Wright, Debra Keenahan, Claudia Chinyere Akole, Connie Anthes, Monique Choy, Lachlan Herd and Penelope Benton – photo by Jacquie Manning 2022.