2021 DESIGN Canberra festival update

Craft ACT announces cancellation of 2021 DESIGN Canberra festival.

Design Canberra to present program to support artists impacted by Covid-driven cancellation and use creativity to support the Canberra community.

After an extensive risk planning process, Craft ACT has announced the decision to cancel the 2021 DESIGN Canberra Festival that was set to be presented this November. The full 2021 ‘Transformation’ program will instead be presented in November 2022.

With DESIGN Canberra representing one of the largest concentrations of art sales for the region each year and more than 520 local artists impacted by the cancellation, Craft ACT has announced a program that will be presented from 5-28 November, 2021 to support local artists and the Canberra community. The Design Canberra presents Nurture program will include creative workshops (online and in person), online studio tours and interviews; an online art auction, a sketchbook challenge, professional development workshops for artists, a music event that celebrates Craft ACT’s 50th anniversary and some public art commissions.

Craft ACT CEO Jodie Cunningham said, “Craft ACT recognises the devastating impact the Covid 19 crisis has had on the local arts industry and our devoted audiences. We are committed to keeping Canberrans safe in this challenging time and with so much continued uncertainty we have made the difficult decision to cancel the DESIGN Canberra Festival in 2021. The essence of DESIGN Canberra is about connection, community, exploration and activation of our city and given the extended lockdown and the ongoing uncertainty in the coming months we believe moving the 2021 Transformation programming to next year will ensure that the festival will run to its full potential in 2022. We are pleased to be able to present the Nurture program and encourage audiences to keep engaging with our artists and supporting them by buying their work during this time.”

“'Design Canberra presents ‘Nurture’, draws on the well documented benefits of creativity to support wellbeing and is aimed at supporting our artists and the Canberra community during this difficult time. The program is specifically tailored to focus on the well-being aspects of creativity, making and crafting as tools for health and recovery; and as an antidote to the stresses brought about by the pandemic,” Cunningham added.

Highlights of the Nurture Program include: 

  • Nurture: Online Craft and Design Auction. Craft ACT will give design-lovers the chance to own their own piece of contemporary design at an auction of works by Craft ACT members. All the proceeds will go directly to the artists. Craft ACT has removed the usual 30% commission on sales to ensure artists receive the maximum possible benefit.
  • Nurture: Mindful Making Workshops. Ticketed live-streamed and face to face workshops with Craft ACT artists across a variety of mediums that use craft and design techniques to promote wellbeing.
  • Nurture: Studio Stories. An ongoing resource of artist video interviews for our community to discover the stories behind the work of local designers and makers from Canberra, Australia’s design capital. Artworks by these artists will be available to purchase through the Craft ACT online shop.
  • Nurture: November Sketchbook Challenge. Participants will receive a sketchbook in the mail and a daily creative challenge in their email inbox to respond to in a sketchbook. At the end of the month the sketchbooks will become part of an online exhibition. The maker of the most innovative sketchbook will receive a cash prize of $2000.
  • Nurture: Thrive. Professional development workshops for makers: These workshops are designed to upskill artists, contributing to a sustainable and healthy creative economy that can weather future disruptions.
  • Nurture: Discover. Craft ACT will partner with the City Renewal Authority to commission several artists to develop concepts during lockdown and artworks during 2022 for small ephemeral public art interventions to activate City West to be launched in 2022. These works will be installed to form a trail of discovery throughout the city and change our communities' experience of place.
  • Nurture: Play: Solid Gold Craft ACT 50th Birthday Party. A ticketed music event that celebrates Crafts ACT’s Golden 50th birthday. Hosted by Chris Endrey, the lineup includes live music performances by Michael Simic (Mikelangelo) and Lucy Sugerman, a gold costume competition, a craft, design and music quiz; and a gold martini mixing tutorial.
  • New Membership Category: Craft + Design Lover Membership. Craft ACT has also just launched a new category for their membership program. The new category is aimed at supporters of the arts. The support will directly support Craft ACT to create greater opportunities for our community of craftspeople and designers, and for the growing audience who admire and appreciate the skill and excellence of their work.
Cunningham added, “Whilst we are disappointed not to hold a physical festival, we look forward to still being able to create a place for our community to come together and support the arts community. We are deeply grateful for the continued support of our Government stakeholders, sponsors and partners who will make it possible to present the DESIGN Canberra Transformation program in 2022 and in the meantime encourage people to support the visual arts community in the most direct way possible – by purchasing the work of artists (available on our website craftact.org.au).”

The full Design Canberra presents Nurture program will be announced on Tuesday 19 October 2021.

For more information and to register interest in the Nurture program please visit designcanberrafestival.com.au

Image 1: Lucy Irvine, signature DESIGN Canberra artwork, The Stills. Photo: Lean Timms.
Image 2: Gillawarra Arts, Indigenous jewellery workshop, DESIGN Canberra 2019. Photo: 5 Foot Photography