Welcome Firstdraft to the CAOA Network


CAOA warmly welcome Firstdraft to our network of now fifteen organisations from every state and territory in Australia. Under the leadership of newly appointed General Manager, Georgia Hobbs, and her team of amazing staff, directors and volunteers, we look forward to working with Firstdraft as they continue to grow and shape Sydney’s emerging arts sector. Image: Zan Wimberley

Firstdraft Galleries, 2014

CAOA Update – Adelaide Meeting 2018


CAOA have been meeting over the past 25-years and we’ve recently launched a website, Facebook and Instagram so we can connect with the broader arts community across these networks. After every meeting, the host organisation will publish a short summary of the challenges and opportunities that are articulated in our meetings so we can share the things that are impacting the small to medium arts sector, beginning with Elizabeth Nowell, CEO, ACE Open.

Earlier this month, the Contemporary Arts Organisations Australia (CAOA) Network met to discuss industry updates, strategic planning, pressure points and priority areas for research and funding. The meetings were convened on Kaurna Country, Adelaide to coincide with the opening of the Adelaide Biennial and ACE Open’s exhibition Waqt al-tagheer: Time of change featuring eleven – a collective of leading Muslim artists from across Australia. ACE Open and the Samstag Museum at the University of South Australia hosted the network over two days of meetings.

Key concerns that arose from these meetings were to do with housing and infrastructure, staffing and human resources, WHS, funding and reporting as well as a major focus on implementing workplace complaints and sexual harassment policies. CAOA will issue a statement about sexual harassment in the workplace on International Women’s Day.

Since our last meeting in December 2017 we have settled into our new branding with the website caoa.com.au, Instagram @Caoaustralia and Facebook pages all gaining traction.

There was a lot of solidarity between organisations and it was heartening to see all directors come together and speak frankly about the challenges and hurdles they are facing moving forward across the small to medium arts network. It reminded us that we aren’t working in a vacuum and the importance of knowledge exchange between organisations.

The CAOA network continue to deliver a diverse range of programs, and it was wonderful to hear about all the ambitious projects happening across the country.

– Elizabeth Nowell, CEO, ACE Open

MTALKS Things we do Together: How to Sustain an Independant Arts Ecology


Raquel Ormella, ‘Golden Soil’, 2016. Photo by Sam Cranstoun.

In December 2017,  MTalks, Contemporary Art Organisations Australia (CAOA) brought together an esteemed panel of speakers to explore the present-day visual arts ecology from the perspective of independent, not-for-profit, and artist-run sectors.

Independent visual arts organisations occupy a space in the arts ecology—at the intersection of production and development—that necessitates a responsive and agile approach. Considering this unique position, how can the sector maintain equilibrium in a constantly shifting landscape? What is the relationship of independent arts spaces to new models for philanthropy and the changing role of state institutions? What does 21st-century arts advocacy look like? And most importantly, what do artists need from an arts ecology?

Chaired by Alexie Glass Kantor in conversation with  Megan Cope, Nicholas Mangan, Channon Goodwin, Charlotte Day, Terry Wu, Mikala Tai, Patrice Sharkey, and Liz Nowell.

Click here to read more by Richard Watts, Arts Hub and listen to the discussion here

Contemporary Arts Organisations Australia submission to Foreign Policy White Paper


This submission has been prepared by Contemporary Arts Organisations Australia (CAOs) in response to the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s call for contributions to key discussion points that will inform the Foreign Policy White Paper. This submission begins with an introduction to the CAOs network and the important roles that CAOs member organisations play in the Australian arts ecology. The submission concludes with six specific responses to the Foreign Policy White Paper’s stated strategic goals and questions.

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NAVA Let’s Talk: Contemporary Arts Organisations Australia



As the third in a series of ‘town hall’ public discussions at The Gunnery, the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and Artspace joined the Directors of Contemporary Art Organisations (CAOA) from across Australia in a conversation that is focused on how we should value the small to medium sector. This sector makes a significant contribution to expanding artists’ careers, engaging audiences and developing new works.

Let’s Talk was facilitated by Blair French, Director, Curatorial & Digital, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director, Artspace and Chair, CAO; Dr. Lizzie Muller, Program Director, Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership Program at UNSWArt &Design and Brianna Munting, Deputy Director, NAVA.

Small to Mediums in CAOs – Alexie Glass-Kantor


“Previously, it was inconceivable that there would ever be a time where there was not a Contemporary Arts Organisation in every state and territory of Australia. As such, last week the CAOs network felt compelled to stand up and make a statement, supported by over 38 signatories from leaders across the sector. This act of solidarity was underpinned by a collective understanding that a review process is to take place in the wake of these events, and although these organisations may yet endure, we want them to succeed. However as it stands, this unfortunate outcome renders an already challenging situation much more difficult, and places the reach and impact our arts ecology at risk.” 

Alexie Glass-Kantor, Chair of Contemporary Arts Organisations of Australia and Executive Director of Artspace, with Chloe Gunn, Development Assistant, Artspace. First published by National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).

Read the entire article here.

CAOs Statement: Visual Arts Sector Response to Funding Cuts


Audience numbers for visual art are up. Australian artists are driving the innovation agenda and are recognised globally. There has never been a more significant time to invest in innovation and creativity: and still our arts are in CAOs.

The announcement by the Australia Council that 65 organisations will no longer receive funding under its Four-Year Funding program (previously Key Organisations) delivers a major blow to Australia’s contemporary visual arts sector.

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The Countess Report – CAOs 2014


“Our data collection on Contemporary Art Organisations found 47.5% female artists and 46% male artists and 6.5% collaborations participated in their exhibition programs in 2014. Women held 47% of the Director roles while men held 53%. The organisations’ board members were 45% women and 55% men, and the board chairs were 31% women and 69% men. When Countess blog counted a sample of CAOs galleries in 2011 women were at 35% representation in exhibitions and at 38% in 2013, so 45% in 2014 is a very healthy result.”

Read the entire report here.

21st Century CAOs – A Forward Plan for Contemporary Art


21st Century CAOs – A Forward Plan for Contemporary Art emerged from a year of significant reflection, research and debate – a process of prioritising issues, and planning for change. This publication introduces CAOs as a network, its member organisations and its place in the ecology of the Australian visual arts. It documents some of the collective successes of the CAOs’ organisations through statistics and case studies. And it presents five urgent recommendations addressing – Income and Career Development for Artists, and Audience Diversification and Engagement.


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