59th Venice Art Biennale 2021

We are seeking proposals for the official New Zealand presentation at the 59th La Biennale di Venezia. The Biennale is the most prestigious event on the international contemporary visual arts calendar. Both curator or artist-led presentations are welcome.

Artforms funded:

This content is tagged as Visual arts .

Funding rounds

Opening dates:
Closing dates:
Notification dates:
Round 1
19 Jul 2019, 12pm

1. Check your eligibility

This will be New Zealand’s 10th official exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia. A series of diverse and powerful presentations by New Zealand artists have built up a legacy of art which is brave, affecting, rich, resonant and superbly well-executed. See the history at NZ at Venice website

To be eligible to present in Venice at the New Zealand pavilion:

  • the applicant must have significant exhibition experience in New Zealand and/or internationally. Priority will be given to those with established profiles within New Zealand’s contemporary arts sector as well as internationally and who have clearly articulated long-term international goals
  • the proposal must include artist(s) that are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of New Zealand. Artists can be based overseas and proposals including international curators and/or collaborators will be considered.
  • the artist(s) and/or curator must be able to participate in media interviews and promotional activities and be ambassadors for the project. Media training will be available if required. The creative team are key members of the exhibition promotion team in New Zealand and Venice.
  • employed curators must include a letter of support from their employer.

You must discuss your eligibility with us before you submit your proposal.
Email Jude Chambers before Monday 15 July to arrange a meeting time.

2. See what's funded

Our objectives for New Zealand at Venice

Creative New Zealand aims to:

  • present New Zealand contemporary art practice at the world’s most prestigious international art biennale and be part of the global visual and cultural forum
  • showcase New Zealand’s art to a broad international audience, engage with international arts practitioners at the highest level and continue to develop international audiences and networks
  • engage the wider New Zealand community in the Venice Biennale and with the selected New Zealand artist(s)
  • create professional development opportunities for New Zealand’s visual art practitioners, and
  • develop a wider understanding within New Zealand of the Venice Biennale and strengthen relationships with stakeholders and partners and amongst the New Zealand visual arts community.

The Biennale offers a unique opportunity to those presenting due to:

  • the scale of the event
  • the large of number visitors it attracts including international arts professional
  • the challenging spaces in which work is presented.

The Biennale is yet to announce the artistic director or curatorial direction for 2021 so projects do not need to address a specific theme. However, we do require that projects have a strong curatorial rationale.

We invite proposals from both curator and artist-led presentations. Proposals can be for a single or multiple artist concept, or of any media or artform.

New work Budget

The budget for the new work will be negotiated with the successful applicant. There is no set amount. Previous support has ranged from $50,000-$200,000. The level of funding will depend on a number of factors including:

  • the particular venue selected
  • the scale of the work proposed
  • the materials required
  • additional labour and installation costs
  • other financial support received for the project. 


Artist fee

An artist fee will be negotiated with the selected artist(s). This will be calculated on the number of artists involved and the proposed project. The fee is not a salary and is not intended to be the artist’s sole income during the project. We recognise the artist is likely to be involved in other projects. A solo artist's fee has ranged between $20,000 -$35,000.

Curator fee

The inclusion of a curator’s fee will depend on a number of factors, e.g. the level of support the curator will receive from their institution (if relevant) and the specific role they will play in the delivery of the project.

Previously curators have not been paid fees if they are employed by an institution which is prepared to allow them time to work on the project. If required, a fee will be negotiated with the selected curator and/or supporting institution. For freelance curators, the fee is not a salary or sole income for the duration of the project and has been up to $10,000. It is recognised that the curator is likely to be involved in other projects.


Support for the exhibition catalogue has previously been between $30,000-$45,000. This includes all aspects of production and distribution. Artist’s gallerists have generally supported the production and/or domestic and international distribution. 

The catalogue publisher should have international distribution networks or an established partnership. Catalogue prints runs have varied between 1,500-2,000, with at least 500-600 free copies for key international influencers during or soon after the Preview week (previously known as the Vernissage).

3. Make an application


Register or Log in

You must email Jude Chambers by Monday 15 July to discuss your eligibility before submitting your application.

You must submit your online application by 5pm on Friday 19 July 2019.

Late proposals and/or late supporting material (CVs or visual support) will not be accepted. 

Login or register to apply online

Your proposal must include:

1. Exhibition 

Details of the proposed exhibition concept, including:

  • a curatorial statement outlining the work(s) and its suitability and relevance to New Zealand’s presence in the Biennale and to international audiences
  • an overview of logistical and specific site requirements
  • an overview of the exhibition catalogue including content, contributors, publisher and distribution plan
  • how the concept delivers to Creative New Zealand’s objectives for the project and its strategic outcomes
  • images of the proposed work or previous works to help explain the exhibition concept.


The New Zealand pavilion will be chosen in conjunction with the selected creative team. The selected artist(s) and/or curator will be required to travel to Venice in late October/early November 2019 before the Biennale closes on 24 November. Ideally both the artist and curator would be available.

If the art work is site specific and/or requires a specific environment this must be included in your proposal. It will be part of the discussion about the suitability/feasibility of the work’s presentation in Venice and will also influence venue selection.

Non-typical exhibition spaces and/or process-based practices require careful consideration of audience engagement and if relevant this should be addressed in the proposal.

Venue selection will be based on a number of factors including:

  • suitability for the project
  • audience access
  • the ability to host guests during the Preview week
  • cost.

It is unlikely that Creative New Zealand will fund more than one main venue due to the cost implications.

2. Project Budget

You must include a detailed indicative project budget that details:

  • new work development and production costs including research, materials, any fees for specialist labour and studio assistants
  • estimated crating and freighting costs for getting the work to and from Venice
  • exhibition catalogue costs, eg designer, writers and editor’s fees, print, bind and distribution
  • possible avenues of other in-kind or direct financial support e.g. from tertiary institutions, publishers and gallerists.

A budget template is provided in the online application form. The panel is aware that the budget will be indicative. Once a venue has been secured and the exhibition concept finalised the overall project budget will be agreed by all parties.

3. Creative team

Your proposal should provide the following information regarding the proposed artist(s), curator, and individual team members: 

  • Their national and international experience.
  • Their capacity to undertake an exhibition of international significance, and deliver projects on time and within budget.
  • The artist(s) long term international goals and the outcomes they wish to achieve by participating in the Biennale.
  • Any previous national and/or international collaborations, either with one another or others.
  • Any evidence of willingness to undertake promotional and ambassadorial roles.
  • A resume (under two pages).

Employed curators must include a letter of support from their employer. This will confirm they are supported and/or released from other curatorial duties to undertake the Biennale project.

Include details of additional team members you would like to have involved in the project, e.g. technical assistants, curatorial and/or artistic collaborators and exhibition catalogue contributors and designers. These additional team members can be based in New Zealand or overseas and do not need to be New Zealand citizens/residents. These positions will be negotiated with the successful applicant.

Read the additional information document (pdf) for further context.

4. Assessing applications

The Selection Advisory Panel

Applications will be assessed by the Creative New Zealand Selection Advisory Panel, appointed by the Chair of the Arts Council.

Note that:

  • if critical information is missing from your proposal you may be contacted about this soon after the application deadline
  • you will not be invited to present your proposal to the panel
  • you may be contacted after the panel meeting to discuss specific aspects of your proposal.

The panel will assess the proposals against the following criteria:

  • Proposal is artistically outstanding.
  • Proposal is ambitious; the project will extend the artist’s practice and create a compelling exhibition. 
  • Suitable exhibition concept for the Biennale.
  • Proposal is relevant to the current international contemporary art kōrero.
  • Proposal is logistically viable in the environment.
  • Proposal is financially viable.
  • The artist’s and curator’s track records of collaborating on significant projects (either together or with others) and completing on time and within budget is outstanding.
  • This proposal has potential to be a “must-see” exhibition at Venice.
  • Catalogue concept, contributors and distribution plan to extend the exhibition reach has been well thought through.
  • The artist and curator have significant profiles within New Zealand’s contemporary arts sector and internationally.
  • The team is committed to promoting the exhibition.
Strategic fit
  • The proposal aligns with the applicant’s own international career goals.
  • The artist will utilise the Biennale platform well.
  • The international profile of New Zealand arts could be raised by this proposal.

Assessment scale

The following assessment scale will be used for all criteria areas:

7---Excellent - Exceeds all indicators
6---Very good - Satisfies all indicators and exceeds in more than one
5---Good - Satisfies all indicators and exceeds in one
4---Acceptable - Satisfies all indicators
3---Minor reservations - Satisfies most indicators however there are minor reservations
2---Major reservations - Satisfies some indicators however there are major reservations
1---Unacceptable - Does not meet the indicators

Recommendation process

The Selection Advisory Panel’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Arts Council for a final decision.

In the event the Selection Advisory Panel agree that no application strongly meets the Assessment Criteria to their satisfaction, they may recommend that Creative New Zealand consider other selection processes e.g. the invitation process undertaken in 2011 and 2013.

5. Notification of results

The successful artist(s)/curator team will be announced on Wednesday 4 September 2019. All applicants, including those who were unsuccessful, will be contacted prior to the public announcement.

6. On completion

All project team members are required to participate in a formal evaluation. Interim reporting during the development stages of the project may be required, this will be negotiated.

7. Who to contact

Jude Chambers
Project Director, NZ at Venice
Manager, International Services and Initiatives
09 373 3070 or 027 483 5230

Cassandra Wilson
Project Coordinator, NZ at Venice
Adviser, International Services and Initiatives
09 354 4863 or 027 403 7157