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Active Arts Award

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Please read this fact sheet carefully before submitting your entry.

Fact sheet

This award is sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, through the Office of the Arts.

In scoring entries against the selection criteria below, the judges will be looking for projects that:

  • are innovative
  • are sustainable, such as: regular events which take place throughout the year; or annual events, where there is a commitment to hold the event on an ongoing basis, and
  • have generated some outcomes (with these outcomes being evidenced in the entry).

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The role of local government in active arts

This award recognises excellence in community engagement and participation in the arts which:

  • encourages active participation in artistic activities
  • celebrates active participation in the arts, and
  • results in cultural, social and economic benefits for artists and local communities.

For example, councils could enter projects for this award which involved:

  • designating public and private places for street, public visual and/or performance art
  • showcasing new art forms such as digital art, music and video
  • support of an arts project or festival that enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to celebrate and share arts and cultural activities with the local or broader community
  • support of a new arts or cultural festival that bring the community together and celebrates local identity
  • engaging youth or disadvantaged groups in arts initiatives
  • establishing a local community arts and craft, music, choir, orchestra or theatre group and hosting associated public performances or exhibitions
  • skills development, training or mentorship program linking emerging artists and communities with established professional artists
  • community arts projects that address social issues such as mental and physical health and well-being, unemployment, social and geographic isolation, substance abuse; and that promote awareness, community connectedness and social cohesion
  • Initiatives that support professional development or employment for artists, and
  • Initiatives that promote cross-sector partnerships, networks or collaborations.

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Entry guidelines

Entries open 3 December 2012 and close 15 February 2013. Entries will only be accepted during this timeframe.

The online entry:

  • requires you to provide a brief overall description of your project, for use in the Winner's Book and other promotional material
  • has a 300 word limit to each criterion; short attachments are permissible (10 page limit)
  • requires all selection criteria to be addressed as appropriate to the project; if a criterion is not relevant to the project state 'not applicable'.


  • applications and attachments will be printed in black and white only
  • DVDs and/or CDs will not be accepted.

If you are unable to access the online entry form, or if you require additional information please email the Awards Team at awards@regional.gov.au, or visit regional.gov.au/local/awards.

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Selection criteria

Entries for the awards should address the following selection criteria:

  1. Innovation and/or best practice
    How does your project demonstrate innovation and/or best practice in the way your council does business or delivers services to your community?
  2. Process and planning
    How did you determine what changes were required to improve your business practices and/or better meet your community's needs (for example, consultation processes, needs analysis, etcetera)?
  3. Benefits
    What are the benefits of the project? Who benefits and how?
  4. Transferability
    Could other councils adopt your initiative? How?
  5. Participation and Celebration
    How does your project encourage and increase your community's participation in, and celebration of, artistic activities?
  6. Cultural outcomes
    How does your project highlight the positive impact of active arts in the social, economic and cultural vibrancy of your community?

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The judging process

There are two stages to the judging process.

  1. Category judging
    Each award category will be judged by a category judging panel with judging based on the submitted entry form—entrants do not present to the category judging panels. A public announcement of category winners is made in March 2013, by the Minister for Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.
  2. National judging
    Category finalists will be asked to present their entries to the national judging panel in Canberra, early May 2013. The judging panel will consider category finalists based on a short presentation and the online entry submitted.

Judging will be based on the material provided by you, within the online entry form. You must address all selection criteria to ensure both sets of judges can properly assess your entry. However the judges may, at their sole discretion, take into account:

  • any website material referred to in your entry, and
  • any attachments, such as documents and images, that you have attached to your entry via the email facility provided at the end of the entry form—no more than 10 pages in length.

Depending on the entries received, judges may recommend a second award for a small council (councils with less than 15,000 rateable properties).

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About the sponsor

The Office for the Arts (OFTA) is the Australian Government's arts and culture policy and funding body. The funding and support we provide helps artists and organisations shape our cultural landscape, increase cultural diversity, and inspire, educate and entertain audiences across Australia and around the world.

OFTA believes all Australians, whether in regional areas or major cities, should have access to artistic and cultural activities, performances and exhibitions.

OFTA recognises that access to the arts and culture through local activities or public spaces contributes directly to the vitality, identity, social cohesion and liveability of communities.

In sponsoring this category award, OFTA recognises the important contribution local government makes to participation in the arts by local communities.

OFTA is keen to recognise councils that clearly encourage active participation in artistic activities by all members of the community.

General information about OFTA can be found at arts.gov.au/.

Questions and answers for entrants

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Who can apply?

All elected local government organisations (councils, shires, etcetera that provide direct services to Australian communities) may apply for this award.

  • The focus of the awards program is on the grass-roots efforts of councils and shires to better serve their communities. For this reason, other types of organisations, including local government associations, are not eligible to apply.
  • All award categories are open to all councils—large, small, capital city and non-capital city.
  • Where a project involves collaboration with other councils, one council may enter on behalf of other councils. The council that enters should specify details of the councils it is representing on its entry or in an attachment to its entry.
  • Councils that are involved in projects that are carried out in partnership with other bodies, or receive funding from other bodies (including Commonwealth bodies) may apply. In this instance, the entrant council is required to show in its entry that it was an active rather than passive partner in the project.
  • Councils and shires that are under administration are not eligible to apply or to receive an award.

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Can small councils enter?

We encourage small councils to enter. Depending on the entries received, the judges may recommend a second 'small council' award in each council, for a small council with less than 15,000 rateable properties.

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What is the timeline for the 2013 awards?

Entries open 3 December 2012
Entries close 15 February 2013
Category judging Late February to late March 2013
Category winners announced End March 2013
National judging: Category winners present their projects to the National Judges Early May 2013
Award presentation event: National Winners announced Mid June 2013

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Who are the judges?

Category judging

Each category judging panel is usually chaired by a representative from the sponsoring Department and includes representatives from one or more local government organisations (ALGA, ALGWA and/or LGMA), plus—depending on the category—other judges drawn from local government, universities etcetera.

National judging

The national judging panel is chaired by a senior local government person and includes representatives from local government organisations (ALGA, ALGWA and/or LGMA) and from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

All judges are required to sign conflict of interest declarations and to abstain from judging entries that they have an interest in—for example, from their own council.

Given the tight timeframes involved and the high number of entries in some categories, it is not possible to offer feedback on individual entries.

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What can we win?

Category winners will travel to Canberra to present their entry to the National Judging Panel in May 2013.

Category winners are presented a trophy and framed winner's certificate, during the National General Assembly in June 2013.

Up to two presentations are made for the overall National Award for Excellence by the Minister during a dinner in June 2013 at the Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra.

Category and national finalists will be provided with awards winner logos to place on their websites and correspondence.

No cash payments are made to awards winners.

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Winners' expenses

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport will fund awards-related travel and accommodation expenses of category and national winners who are invited to present to the national judging panel and/or attend the award presentation event in Canberra.

The department will make arrangements on behalf of:

  • one person per winning entrant to present to the national judging panel in May 2013
  • up to two people per winning entrant to attend the award presentation and official dinner in June 2013.

The department will not reimburse individuals for any expenses they may incur in participating in the awards, except by prior arrangement and only if the department is invoiced by the individual's employing council rather than directly by the individual.

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What happens after the awards?

Sponsoring departments are encouraged to promote the award winners and their projects throughout the local government sector, using a variety of communication options within your department's networks, for example, your internal website, social media outlets and industry contacts.

The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport will continue promoting award winners via stakeholder engagement, advertising, digital and social media and events and where possible, media engagement opportunities.

Award winners will be encouraged to share their experiences with other councils that are interested in their projects.

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The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sports would like to acknowledge the tremendous support from the 2013 sponsoring departments. Sponsor support of the awards program plays a vital role in ensuring the ongoing recognition of local government and community achievements. Involvement in the awards enables sponsors to better understand the issues faced by local governments. This knowledge can then be utilised to shape government programs to address areas of current community concern.

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Last Updated: 1 December, 2016