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© Varial Studio

Craft ACT

‘DESIGN Canberra’ a campaign to celebrate Canberra as a global city of design

In 2014, the DESIGN Canberra festival was born. This unique and innovative festival was developed and brought to life by Craft ACT to address the need to grow Canberra’s design scene. They did this by creating a platform to showcase talented artists and designers, both locally and internationally. As one of the few designed cities in the world, Canberra has generated stakeholder interest and motivation for the city to promote and celebrate its unique design. Craft ACT was inspired to celebrate this ongoing growth and the recognition of Canberra as a global city of design through supporting the burgeoning design community in Canberra and collaborating with designers from all over the world.

CraftACT-Open Studios-5 Foot Photography

Open Studios, © 5 Foot Photography

This initiative has committed to supporting local and international designers to make a living out of their practice and keep design experimentation and excellence alive in Canberra at a time where arts funding is decreasing. Craft ACT recognises that members of the creative community need to be able to make a living from their practice, so it aims to support the generation of income for artists, to retain talented arts graduates and to eliminate the need for many to move to Sydney and Melbourne to pursue creative careers. Local artists earn on average merely seven thousand dollars per year for their contribution, meaning they are often forced to hold down jobs elsewhere to survive. To ensure that artistic talent is nurtured and there is continued growth in the field of design in the Canberra region, this festival is an important platform for designers to promote, showcase and sell their creations.  


The overarching goal of DESIGN Canberra’s communications is to drive national awareness of the ACT’s fastest growing festival by positioning it as a creative and interactive cultural experience. The strategic approach for the 2018 festival is to promote the festival and its supporting events by implementing communications strategies to generate widespread media coverage. The strategy has been broken down into five key phases to enable precise planning, enhanced media opportunities and tailored key messages and tactics for each individual phase. The five phases are: the festival announcement; program launch; media preview and bloggers event; official launch of the festival; and, the festival itself in November. Each element of the event targets specific media outlets and other communications channels to make the most of each opportunity. 

CraftACT-Sell Out Auction-5 Foot Photogr

Sell-Out Auction, © 5 Foot Photography

The DESIGN Canberra festival has grown to be a highly effective and experienced integrated events program in the ACT. By showcasing events, exhibitions, talks, tours, activations, markets, collaborations, artist studios and open homes, DESIGN Canberra transforms the nation’s capital into a new platform for the best in design. The festival attracts local design lovers, local design enthusiasts, interstate design enthusiasts and interstate collectors and with most events held at no cost to the public, the festival ensures accessibility for a diverse audience.


Year on year the numbers don’t disappoint with the 2017 DESIGN Canberra festival attracting more than 94,000 people, which is a 37% increase on 2016.  There were more than 200 festival activities presented over the 20 days including 105 events, 54 exhibitions, 12 living rooms, 43 open studios and 8 tours. This resulted in more than $142,000 in income generated for artists and designers participating in the DESIGN Canberra 2017 festival, a 103% increase from the $70,000 generated in 2016.  


The festival returns for its fifth year, from 5–25 November 2018, presenting new local and international collaborations alongside the stand out events, tours and activations of previous years. With an active and engaged community, established communication channels, passionate sponsors and a strong reputation, the festival will confidently, effectively and efficiently deliver a creative new program of the best in contemporary design in 2018. 

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