Ends on

DESIGN Canberra
8–28 November 2020

The 2021 festival theme is… Transformation. 

In the context of the upheaval and disruption of the global pandemic and other confronting experiences of 2020, we have a shared responsibility and extraordinary opportunity to achieve real transformation.

After world changing events, history has shown that citizens, business and communities have responded with a celebration of life and gratitude and a burst of entrepreneurial energy. We hope that (after a well-earned rest at the end of 2020), 2021 creates momentum to build a more resilient, connected, creative and responsible way of living. The eighth edition of the DESIGN Canberra festival asks what should we retain and what can we discard to connect more meaningfully as a community, to nurture wellbeing and health, celebrate creativity and reduce our burden on the environment? Can design foster a vibrant, equitable, sustainable and innovative society?

The festival theme arose from our planning for Craft ACT’s 50th - golden - anniversary which takes place in 2021. We explored the values, tradition and symbolism of gold and, through that, alchemy and transformation.

‘We remain constantly inspired by the ways that artists and designers transform raw materials and ideas into objects, spaces and buildings to creatively express layers of meaning, history and connection from the domestic to the public sphere,’ said Rachael Coghlan, CEO and Artistic Director of the festival since 2016.

Read more here.

Submit your proposals by 9am Monday 8 March 2021.

How can I get involved?

In calling for proposals from across all design disciplines, we encourage a spirit of collaboration where Canberra’s creative community works together to showcase the best in contemporary design. We welcome proposals which align with the festival values, ambitions and aspirations including: contemporary, relevant, exploratory and authentic.

Whether you are an individual maker, a collective, a cultural or educational institution, a business, a researcher or a government agency, the festival provides a platform for a multi-faceted exploration of design, arts and creative industries. DESIGN Canberra is attracting more, and new, audiences each year. 

Proposals are welcome for:

  • Exhibitions
  • Events
  • Tours
  • Workshops
  • Activations
  • Installations
  • Design-related performance
  • Public talks
  • Publication launches
  • Online works
  • Research

PLEASE NOTE: A separate call-out for DESIGN Canberra Open Studios will happen in early 2021.

Programs can include dates before or after 8-28 November, but must have some overlap with DESIGN Canberra dates to be included in the program. 

DESIGN Canberra encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers to submit proposals for the festival program.

What will DESIGN Canberra do to support my event?

DESIGN Canberra is the major outreach activity of Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre, a not-for-profit membership-based organisation which supports local artists, designers and makers at every stage of their careers. The festival is delivered in collaboration with industry, associations and educational institutions committed to the design arts and creative industries in Canberra. In 2020, we attracted over 84,000 people to the festival.

Craft ACT curates the festival program, presenting opening and keynote events and exhibitions that form the backbone of the festival and providing a context for the events, exhibitions and activities of other presenters. We work with a network of stakeholders to present the festival and are generously supported and inspired by our design-focused corporate sponsors including the City Renewal Authority, Rolfe Classic BMW, home. by holly, University of Canberra, the Suburban Land Agency, Midnight Hotel,  Canberra Centre and the Alastair Swayn Foundation. ACT Government funding underpins the presentation of the festival, with a commitment to fund the festival every year from 2017-2022. This is a time for growth and long-term ambition.

Craft ACT has overall management responsibility for DESIGN Canberra, including governance, fundraising and high-level marketing and publicity. We are the central repository and contact point for a diverse range of presenters who engage with the festival. We manage a festival website on which all events are listed and coordinate DESIGN Canberra social and digital media. These are the main channels to access the program for most attendees. In 2020, DESIGN Canberra had more than 400,000 social media impressions and 190,000 web page views and 2.3 million impressions on digital ads. 

We produce and distribute a hard-copy festival flyer for high-level promotion with featured events and exhibitions that is distributed to 10,000 people. We send electronic newsletters to DESIGN Canberra followers who have been signing up since 2014. We will engage with selected proposals on cross-promotion and DESIGN Canberra branding requirements.

DESIGN Canberra provides a platform for linking makers and designers with new audiences and forging collaborations and marketplace connections. In 2020, artists and designers in DESIGN Canberra generated over $210,000 income directly through commissions, open studios, market sales and exhibitions. While we cannot provide funding for projects in the festival, we encourage you to include in your program a way to generate income to support your practice and project. This could include selling your work and/or charging a ticket price. DESIGN Canberra is also open to seeking collaborative funding opportunities for appropriate projects. Feel free to give us a call to discuss.

I’ve submitted my proposal. What next? 

Thank you for submitting a proposal to DESIGN Canberra. We can’t wait to hear what you have in mind and hope to work with you to present an inspiring and creative festival in 2021.

We hope to let you know by mid April if your proposal will be included in the festival program.
A curatorial panel will review the proposals and determine which ideas make a good fit with the 2021 festival program. The panel will include the Artistic Director and Program Director of DESIGN Canberra, as well as members of the DESIGN Canberra committee of cross-disciplinary experts and collaborators.

What if my proposal is accepted?

Congratulations! Your event will be included in DESIGN Canberra 2021.
Once we advise that your proposal has been accepted, we will ask you for additional information for marketing and promotional purposes. This will include text and images, with credits, that we can use on the DESIGN Canberra website.
We will ask for evidence of your public liability insurance (PLI) coverage. If you are a Craft ACT Accredited Professional or Associate member, your membership also buys you PLI coverage.

We will also provide you with DESIGN Canberra key promotional dates and information about how we can best promote your project and how you can best promote your participation in DESIGN Canberra. The festival has a growing, but still limited, budget for marketing. Increasing public and interstate recognition of the festival is where the bulk of that money goes and that is in the interest of all participants. Running a successful project or event in DESIGN Canberra is a collaborative endeavor. We require you to bring your audiences to DESIGN Canberra and in turn we will bring awareness of the DESIGN Canberra audience to your project. In our experience, projects in the festival are successful when all parties actively promote their participation to their own networks and communities, and we share in each other’s hard work.


You will be responsible for:

  • Organisation of your activity
  • Staffing during your activity
  • All relevant insurances and public liability (Craft ACT Accredited Professional and Associate members have insurance included in their membership)
  • Ensuring safety of any/all participants for your activity
  • All costs associated with your activity
  • Delivery of promotional information by due dates (as requested by Craft ACT) to be used for promotional purposes
  • Completing a brief survey at the end for reporting purposes

What happens if my proposal is not successful?

We will let you know if your proposal is not accepted. Please don’t be discouraged or disheartened if your proposal is unsuccessful. It simply is not possible to include all proposals in the program. There are many ways to be involved in the festival; we also welcome volunteers to help on a range of programs. We hope to see you at the festival.

Fees, charges and ticketing

In response to audience feedback, all ticketing will be managed by DESIGN Canberra and delivered on a central platform. Free events will not incur any fees or charges and paid ticketed events will incur a 20% commission on ticket sales.

Commercial operators who wish to participate may be invited to become a sponsor of the festival where appropriate, or will be charged a participation fee commensurate with the event. Advertising packages are also available. For more information contact designcanberra@craftact.org.au

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.