After a bit over 2 years, I'm signing off from the NAVA blog, leaving this great organisation and off to wetter, if not greener, pastures. After moving back to Melbourne, I'm off to London and Europe for 6 months to work, do some arts research and generally have a great time.
And just in case you were worried, the NAVA blog will still keep going, as will the grants blog, so keep checking in.
Owen Leong, our fantastic new Communicaitons Officer will be keeping you up to date, as well as looking after all NAVA's other communications needs.
Our new NAVA Quarterly and the NAVA Gnome.
Last year, NAVA embarked on one of our biggest campaigns. Not resale royalty, tax changes, censorship, or even an ethical indigenous industry, but the task of changing how NAVA looked and operated! We spent almost a year evaluating our systems, developing new partnerships and preparing for change so that we could better reflect the industry which we represent. Some of the resulting changes which you may have noticed include the new website (still in a state of renewal) and, if you are a member, your new NAVA quarterly. The extra copies arrived at the office yesterday and we're all excited about the re-vamp. Our editor, Jaki Middleton has done a fantastic job in organising for us to add some colour to our lives and it has paid off.
As well as patting ourselves on the back, this post is also an encouragement to hear from NAVA members about the new-look magazine. What do you like about it? What don't you like? Is there something missing? Was there an article that you loved and want to rave about? We'd love to hear from you. Just add a comment to the end of this blog.
The NAVA Quarterly is only available to NAVA members. If you're not a NAVA member and wondering what all the fuss is about, you can call us to Join NAVA on (02) 9368 1900.
With the Archibald, Wynne, Sulman and Dobell prizes announced today and the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award announced yesterday, it's felt a bit like money season.
The Helen Lempriere winner, Tasmanian artist Matt Calvert has scored himself $85,000 and a decent amount of kudos for winning the illustrious prize. And John Beard, having painted an image of Janet Laurence to win the Archibald has won $35,000 and quite a bit of attention for the next while.
Entering a prize can be great for your art practice and the Australian visual arts and craft sector offers hundreds of prizes each year and if you're not careful, the seduction of the win can get you in all sorts of trouble. In previous years, unscrupulous businesses have used the art prize as a money-making scheme and an opportunity to take advantage of artists' lure of winning.
If you're entering an art prize, big or small, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. More information, both about the range of prizes and their terms and conditions is available in Money For Visual Artists , but here's a little taste test:
1. Do your research before entering. Find out why the prize/award is being organised; who benefits and how and whether it is an acquisitive prize, art prize or purchase exhibition.
2. Read the Terms and Conditions. Can i say that again? Read the Terms and Conditions. Yes, it's usually in small type, yes it's usually in more legal terms that we like to enjoy reading, but for the sake of you dignity, balance, stress levels and pride, please read the Terms and Conditions. If there's anything you don't understand, ask the have in the Advice Centre on our website, check out the Code of Practice and then if you're still unsure, ask the organisers. If something still smells fishy with the requirements of the prize, email us and we'll do our best to check it out.
3. Double check the copyright terms. More often than not, artists lose out on copyright. Make sure you are not handing over a non-exclusive license for the image of your work for an unreasonable amount of time. If you win, or make the shortlist, you can expect to grant permission for the prize to use image of your artwork in promoting the prize and the announcement of winners. Be wary of granting permission in using your image for other purposes.
There are many other things to consider when entering prizes, but these are a good start. Enjoy the thrill of entering a prize and good luck!
Well, the first NAVA Small Grants round for 2007 has closed and boy have we being swamped by applications!
Good luck to everyone who sent one in!
Internships are a benefit that NAVA occasionally offers as a way of developing the professional capacity of those working in the sector. These kinds of mentoring opportunities are gradually increasing in the visual arts and are often incorporated into arts administration training courses as work experience. It's a way of expanding the capacity, scope and opportunities for people rising up through the ranks, and an important element of the Australian visual arts sector that is not much acknowledged, but can be beneficial for both protegs and the mentoring person or organisation.
The idea of mentoring is now very common in the corporate sector. However, through the atelier studio model, this concept of learning by example and practise has had a history amongst artists for centuries. As we know, one attribute that artists have in abundance is their resourcefulness. This is often nurtured through the range of educational training, exhibitions and projects they have participated in. In more recent times, the process of internship and apprenticeship has been extended to curators and arts administrators through galleries and other arts organisations. Applying this principle has helped many of the top curators and senior staff in galleries around the country to work their way further up the ladder.
Gaining experience and learning from others on the job can be a valuable way to increase skills in areas that are difficult to teach at art school or university, including the art of networking, entrepreneurship and understanding how to capitalise on the intricacies of arts funding and philanthropy. Being able to impart valuable information about lobbying and advocacy, as well as inspiring young art workers to go on and fill top arts positions in other organisations is one of the contributions organisations can make to the industry and which many find very satisfying. To do it properly requires a commitment from the organisation to develop a well constructed schedule of opportunities and close supervision to ensure that the proteg is getting the chance to access a range of skills, contacts and expertise.
There are similar ways in which arts organisations also can mentor their own staff. Forming valuable connections by introducing staff members to patrons, stakeholders, members, curators, directors, etc. is important in helping them to developing a network of contacts which can lead to interesting projects and ideas. Including the junior staff in organisational planning is another way to develop skills that are valuable in the sector and can ensure that arts administrators will apply a wide range of these kinds of skills in their positions.
From its experience, NAVA would encourage others to offer mentoring and internship as a valuable way those further up the food chain can share their hard won knowledge and experience and contribute to developing a cohesive and highly-skilled Australian visual arts sector.
With the deadline for the Marketing Grant for NSW coming up, and some recent discussions on other arts websites about the importance of marketing, i thought it would be a good time to talk about it.
"But you're the Communications Co-ordinator, it's your job to think about marketing"
Yes, you're right. I do take home a small amount of money to think about how to market this organisation. But I'm also an artist and I've been involved in artist-run-spaces and i have seen how artists with the ingenuity to market themselves well can create opportunities for themselves.
Promoting your artwork, practice, project or publication doesn't have to be a huge affair. The important thing is that when you do it, you affirm that your work is worthwhile promoting and you do it in a way that is authentic to who you want to attract to your work.
And having said all that, nothing will replace a good quality body of work as an excellent marketing tool. But having an eye for promotion is an excellent companion to great work.
If you don't feel comfortable marketing yourself, you can start off small. Perhaps get a business card printed with your name, email and phone number on it. That way, when you're talking to people at an opening or those who may be interested in your work, you can give them a card so they can contact you again when they realise that they HAVE to have one of your works.
Or perhaps you're not great at talking to people face-to-face, so you set up a website, that you have a link to at the bottom of all your emails (yes, even the emails to Great-Aunt Mabel who will probably buy your work long before anyone else does). You only have to spend a couple of hours a month making sure it's updated, that people are visiting it and that you have links in the right places (like on your NAVA artists' profile, the art life, flickr and maybe your myspace page, if you're into that kind of thing). Once you start seeing that people are looking at your work online, it will inspire you to keep making work and to have more people look at it.
Once marketing is working, it becomes addictive, trust me.
And say both of these simple ideas scare you. There are still a tonne of other ways in which you can promote, market, tell people about yourself. Or if you still can't cope with the marketing idea, think of it as audience development.
Making a point of speaking to the people you've invited to your opening is a form of promotion. Inviting the kinds of people you would like to see your work is a way to market yourself. And both of these develop your audience. It's easy!
And while having a solid audience for your work can pay off financially, it isn't the only reason why it's important for artists and the visual arts sector to consider. Having a wide audience contributes to the response and dynamic of your work, addresses your ideas to those outside your 3 friends and your Great-Aunt Mabel, and generates discussion between more areas of society. Communication.
See how great it can be?
If you've had some success in marketing your practice, boast about it to us, as we always appreciate feedback from the sector.
If you've had some disasters in marketing your practice and need some guidance, the publication Getting Art There: An Artist's Marketing Manual is available from NAVA.
Artists and arts organisation have professional relationships with each other for a variety of reasons. More often than not, it's between an artist and a gallery of some description: artist-run-initiative, commerical gallery, regional, state or national public gallery, private hire-space gallery or a cafe that wants to show artworks.
In having that relationship with the gallery (or other organisation, like a local council or private commissioner), both of you will negotiate what you want out of the project/exhibition/ commission and, if we've taught anyone anything, will have a contract that outlines the terms of that agreement.
But sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes artists get ripped off by galleries, sometimes galleries get ripped off by artists, sometimes neither party has communicated well and you both end up feeling ripped off.
In fixing this kind of conflict, there are several things you can do:
1. Cry, scream, throw things at the wall and decide that the visual arts is a waste of time and you're off to become an accountant. We don't recommend this option (nothing against accountants).
2. Try to resolve the situation. Keep correspondence in writing and although you may feel passionately about the situation, try to remain courteous and professional. If you reach a solution, confim your understanding of the outcome in writing and ask that the other side do the same.
3. Come to NAVA for help. At the end of the day, if the situation has wider implications for the sector, we may even be able to back you up, write a letter to the other party, or take further action. However, until that happens, there are other means of resolution which we can help you with:
Research resources. Make sure you've read through the contract and any correspondence you've had between the two of you and ensure that you understand the nature of the problem. Consult the Code of Practice for the Australian Visual Arts and Craft Sector. Following the guidelines therein will prevent further disputes and may support your case, should it come to further action. The Code of Practice is available for purchase from NAVA and is a valuable resource to all Australian professional artists and arts workers. If you haven't already got it and can't afford it, most art school libraries have it and if your local library doesn't, ask them to order it.
Ask for advice. If you haven't been able to resolve the dispute after all this work, or found an answer in the Code of Practice or sections of the Advice Centre, you can email us for our expert advice through this site. You can also give us a call at our Sydney office for an answer to a specific question.
Send us the details. The NAVA staff will let you know if your particular problem is unable to be solved through the above means and may need further research/consideration. We will encourage you to outline the situation in writing, with details about who is involved, when it happened and what you would like to see as an outcome of it all.
And then what happens?
If NAVA needs to act on the situation, there is a procedure we need to go through. For more information about this procedure and more detailed outline of the dispute representation process, go to the membership section of this website, which is featuring this members' benefit.
We all hope that no one has to go through this kind of conflict in their professional dealings as artists and arts workers. However, if you do, we hope that this kind of information helps to keep everyone communicating and relatively sane.
Regular readers of the NAVA blog may recall a previous one about the proposed inclusion of "parody" and "satire" as provisions for 'fair dealing' in the amendments to the Copyright Act.
Well, for artists who want to use other people's material for free, the good news is that it's now legal if you can make it fit the definitions. The Copyright Amendment Act 2006, now entitles Australian artists to officially use copyrighted material for these purposes.
Unfortunately, there isn't a definition for either exception in the Act, but according to my trusty Oxford Pocket Dictionary:
parody. 1. n. Composition in which an author's characteristics are ridiculed by imitation; feeble imitation, travest. 2. v.t Write p. of, caricature.
satire. n. Form of literary medley among the ancient Romans [probably a useless definition for most visual artists, but a good history lesson nonetheless]; composition in which vice or folly or person as guilty of it is held up to ridicule, use of ridicule or sarcasm or irony to expose & discourage vice & folly, thing that serves to expose false pretensions.
Previously, neither of these reasons was a valid excuse for using images or text copyrighted by others. This is not to say that images and text weren't previously used illegally, however, now artists can create works that reference others' work and use images by other Australian artists, photographers, designers, writers, musicians, etc in the creation of an artwork, if it is used for the purposes of parody or satire. Fair dealing means that the work can't be completely ripped off, but it may be used without prior permission or a licence.
While this is exciting news for some contemporary artists, it won't please those who would have preferred to be paid a fee for the use of their work.
And it doesn't mean that it's 'open slather' for all images. It is only for material protected by the Australian Copyright Act and an artist's work (or that of a writer, playwright, etc) is still protected from abuse by Moral Rights and Defamation laws.
We thoroughly recommend you check out the Australian Copyright Council 's website. They have a great information sheet on all the changes that have been made.
I know that Christmas is so last year, but it seems that the spirit of giving presents to those you care about is "Back by Popular Demand!" And the visual arts are on the receiving end of some exciting goodies.
The most recent windfall has come from arts patron extraordinaire, Mrs Janet Holmes Court , who has committed $75,000 over the next 5 years towards a small grant scheme for artists. Like Pat Corrigan and other private donors before her, she is supporting artists in their early stages to present their work publicly, many of whom may grace the walls of the big collections in years to come. These small grants give so many artists a chance to have some cash put towards an exhibition, as well as having a grant to add to their CV. And we know both of these things make a difference in the early years and then when applying for future funding/commercial representation. This kind of support helps artists to help themselves.
Thanks to NAVA Board member Kate McMillan for all her super work in approaching Mrs Holmes Court on behalf of NAVA and emerging artists Australia-wide.
Janet Holmes Court
photo credit: Frances Andrijich
And then there are more presents!
Artists who have experienced major crises and need a bit of extra love now have an extra special patron to thank. Tom Lowenstein from Lowentsteins Arts Management and the Painters and Sculptors' Association recently helped raise $13,500 towards the Australian Visual Artists Benevolent Trust . This trust, set up by Bert Flugelman through the sale of an Ian Fairweather work he owned. And with support from Guy Warren, was established for visual arts practitioners "faced with financial difficulty as a result of serious illness, accident or some other unexpected catastrophe."In the last couple of years, the funds had been greatly reduced and NAVA had been unable to help many artists until more money was donated to the trust. Now, thanks to Lowenstein and Friends, NAVA will be able to help a few more artists get back on their feet.
photo credit: Chris Beaumont
And we're certainly hoping to see more of this kind of philanthropy and fundrasing in the future aided by a change in tax laws for charities and not-for-profit organisations raising funds. As recently seen in the NAVA news , 2007 sees the minimum payment threshold for deductable funds will be reduced from $250 to $150 providing greater incentives for potential doners who are only able to make small contributions. The minor benefit incurred cannot exceed 20% of the gift (or ticket) price or $150 (up from 10%/$100).
I'm glad i bought a new diary for the year. There's now plenty of room to pencil in all the charity dinners for the arts which I'm sure i'll be invited to in between now and June 30!
After a well-earned break over the festive season, the NAVA staff are all back on deck, sparkling with vigour about the exciting things planned for this year and we will be doing our level best to give you all the kinds of things you expect from us.
Without giving too much away, I can tell you that in 2007 you can all look forward to some great new NAVA publications, grants galore, some interesting forums, more improvements to our website and some heavy campaigning around election time so we can secure you some good arts policy commitments from all political parties.
We hope your year is looking as exciting as ours is!