International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies

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IFACCA was established in 2001. It has over 100 members worldwide and holds a triennial World Summit on Arts and Culture, which is open to everyone with an interest in arts and cultural policy, and public support for artistic endeavour. The first four World Summits were held in Canada (Ottawa, 2000), Singapore (2003), England (Newcastle Gateshead, 2006) and Johannesburg (2009).

The National Arts Council of South Africa was a founding member.


IFACCA is the global network of national arts funding agencies. While IFACCA was inaugurated in December 2000 and the secretariat started in March 2001, the development of the Federation concept and the consultation process to assess its feasibility and structure occurred over the previous two years. This process is described below. Achievements since 2001 are described in IFACCA announcements and our anniversary publication, The First Five Years.

The Concept of a Federation The Canada Council’s World Summit in 2000 was the inaugural meeting of all known national arts council and similar bodies. There had been sporadic meetings of the nine so-called Anglophone arts councils (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia) but no formal ongoing linkages. The last meeting was held in Washington in June 1996. In the fifteen years prior to IFACCA’s inauguration, cultural support structures of many nations underwent significant change. In Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, there was an explosion of council-like or foundation-like agencies. These organisations are public bodies operating at the national level to support artistic and creative expression, with some (varying) degree of independence from government. Typically, they have been set up in response to social and political change, for example, the:

collapse of colonial and Communist state structures emergence of new democratic governments desire of communities to be active participants in arts/cultural decision-making need to reform government structures desire to encourage private sector contributions increasing recognition of the value of civil society or ‘third sector’ institutions There are now quasi-governmental national bodies funding the arts in all parts of the world, in poor as well as wealthy nations, including many non-English-speaking countries. Scholars of cultural policy often view the development of independent arts councils, with artists directly involved in policy-making and grant-making, as one indicator of the emergence of a cultural democracy. In establishing these organisations, governments have usually placed them squarely within the democratic tradition.

The Canada Council was of the view that these organisations - and as a consequence, the artists and arts groups they foster and support - could benefit from pooling their richly diverse experiences and innovative approaches to arts support. The Council’s major objective in organising the Summit was to lay the groundwork for an effective and sustainable global network of national arts councils and arts funding bodies. Specifically, a cultural information and cooperation network to communicate through the new technologies and undertake specific collaborative actions resulting in direct, concrete benefits for individual artists and arts groups around the world.

Many groups and disciplines in the cultural sector have international networks and associations - for example, museums, craft workers, public broadcasters, communications professionals, cultural management educators, etc. But there was no network for national arts councils and funding bodies. It is not surprising that one of the recommendations of the Action Plan produced by the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development, the 1998 Stockholm UNESCO meeting, was to establish such a network.

Coincidental to the Canada Council and UNESCO initiatives, a British Council seminar on arts funding policy in December 1998 brought together a group of 20 people from 17 countries in national, state, city, corporate and philanthropic arts funding roles. Participants greatly valued the opportunity to share information about their experiences and issues. At this meeting, Sarah Gardner (Australia Council) proposed that a network of such organisations be created to encourage more interaction in future. During 1999 she investigated different models and consulted with potential members. In September she discussed the concept with the CEO of the Canada Council, Dr Shirley Thomson, during a visit to Australia. As a result, the Canada Council invited the Australia Council to develop the model for the federation to launch at the Ottawa Summit.

Consultation Process During 2000, Sarah Gardner undertook a survey of a large number of arts councils and funding organisations to determine preferences, priorities and commitments to the federation. The Canada Council generously shared their newly created database of national arts support agencies to facilitate this research. This information formed the basis for the proposal for a federation considered at the World Summit. Advice was regularly provided by a steering committee comprising:

Keith Kelly, Director Planning and Research, Canada Council Patricia Quinn, CEO, Arts Council of Ireland Doreen Nteta, CEO, National Arts Council, South Africa Susan Loh, Director Corporate Communications and Marketing, National Arts Council, Singapore Aleksandra Uzelac for Biserka Cvjeticanin, Director, Culturelink Network and by others such as:

Jocelyn Harvey, consultant to the Canada Council Carla Delfos, Director, European League of Institutes of the Arts, Netherlands Several staff of the Australia Council and the Chair, Dr Margaret Seares About 59 arts councils and funding bodies in the following countries were invited by letter and/or email to participate in the survey:

Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, England, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United States, Wales, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Surveys and consultations were conducted verbally with:

Members of the steering committee Culturelink, Croatia Jennifer Bott, CEO, Australia Council Shirley Thomson, CEO, Canada Council Peter Hewitt, CEO, Arts Council of England Sivia Qoro, A/g Director Culture & Heritage, Ministry of Women & Culture, Fiji Jarmo Malkavaara, CEO, Arts Council of Finland Tseng, Sun Man, CEO, Hong Kong Arts Development Council Tessa Jackson, CEO, Scottish Arts Council Kaluachchi Jayathileke, President, Arts Council of Sri Lanka Celia Hong, President, Foundation for the Arts and Culture, Taiwan Frances Medley, Policy Director, Arts Council of Wales Pennie Ojeda, International Director, National Endowment for the Arts, USA Written surveys, other information or offers of assistance were provided by:

Rhee, Jin-Bae, Secretary-General, the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation Edwin CedeOo, National Director of the Arts, Panama Eike Eller, Assistant Coordinator, Ars Baltica (Estonia) Tatsushi Nishizawa, Director Cultural Policy Planning Office for Mr Masamine Sasaki, Commissioner, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Eliane Pszczol, Director Arts, Funarte, Brazil Retha Hofmeyr, Director Arts, Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture, Namibia Douglas Arcia, Coordinator of International Affairs, National Council of Culture of Venezuela In mid-September 2000 the Australia Council sent a draft proposal to all 116 national arts councils and arts funding/support agencies (ie potential voting members) invited to the World Summit. French translations of the covering letter and executive summary were provided to the relevant agencies. By October 11 responses had been received from Brazil, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Philippines and Sri Lanka. All considered the draft proposal satisfactory and were interested in receiving more information. Some offered additional comments that were taken into account in finalising the proposal.


For more information

See 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture and the IFACCA website at

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