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Purpose 1 - People

Enabling Australians and visitors to celebrate and share the story of our nation through Canberra, our National Capital

Performance Criteria

Criteria Elements


1.1 Welcome Australian and

international visitors to the

National Capital and NCA managed lands, including for national events, respecting the location of Canberra on the land of Australia’s indigenous people

There is strong recognitio of the perspective an contribution of Indigenou peoples in the NCA’ activities, including through programs at the National Capital Exhibition

Achieved – The NCA has a strong focus on Indigenous perspectives and contribution across our operations.

National Capital Exhibition (NCE) programs include significant Indigenous content in telling the story of Canberra. The NCA, working with Reconciliation Australia and other Indigenous bodies and individuals, was a major contributor to Reconciliation Week activities in May-June 2020 through the lighting of the Carillon with a range of Indigenous artworks and messages. The new largest bell in the Carillon was named and inscribed as the Ngunnawal bell at its inauguration.

There is a high level of participation and engagement in NCA-managed events

Partially achieved – there was continued active participation and engagement in NCA-managed events and programs until the cancellation of events and closure of the NCE in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is an increased number of visitors to NCA managed attractions, including the National Capital Exhibition, Blundells Cottage, the National Carillon, Anzac Parade, and the National Triangle

Not achieved – 97,054 people visited NCA-managed attractions in 2019-20, compared with 174,407 in 2018-19. The outcome reflects the closure of the NCE and other NCA-managed programs in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was, however, a 12% increase in visitors over the period July 2019 to February 2020 compared with the equivalent period in 2018-19 (86,918). There were 407 events held on National Land in 2019-20, compared with 622 in 2018-19. There were an estimated 1.5 million visitors attending events on NCA-managed land in 2019-20.

The visitor satisfaction and exit surveys show a client satisfaction rating of at least 90% across NCA-managed attractions

Achieved – 99% of visitors to the National Capital Exhibition and related programs rated their experience as either excellent or good.

There is strong recognition of Canberra and itss attractions in the National Capital in the Australian community

Achieved – 99% of visitors surveyed answered that their visit to the NCE had increased their awareness and had provided them with a greater appreciation of Canberra as Australia’s National Capital. In 2019-20, the NCA captured and shared more video and photographic material of capital works projects, events and other NCA activities with an increased following on social media channels – NCA followers on Twitter increased by 6.1 per cent and on Facebook by 39.1 per cent.

1.2 Maximise the use and presentation of National Land to tell the stories of all Australians

There are productive partnerships with key organisations and agencies including Events ACT, the Australia Day Council, the Reconciliation Council and Reconciliation Australia, and Canberra’s National Institutions.

Achieved – the NCA has continued to build productive partnerships and relationships with relevant organisations including EventsACT, the Australia Day Council, the Reconciliation Council and Reconciliation Australia and Canberra’s National Institutions. A multi-year agreement was reached with the organisers of the Spilt Milk festival. Reconciliation Australia and the ACT Reconciliation Council are now integrated into Reconciliation Week events on NCA-managed lands leading to a good outcome in 2019-20.

There is strong recognition of events and their link to the National Capital

Achieved – By forging new relationships between the NCA and event producers, a Canberra season of many nationally-toured events such as Beer Fest, Spartan, concert tours and Drive-in Cinemas occurred for the first time, allowing the public to experience these events without having to go interstate. The NCA worked closely with producers who brought their events to Canberra for the first time to ensure these are financially successful and to increase the positive reputation of Canberra as a commercially viable city for new events within the industry. Events such as Tuff Nutterz, Beer Fest and Foam Fest have all planned multiyear returns after an inaugural 2019-20 year in Canberra.

There is excellent presentation of National Land, commensurate with its national role and significance

Achieved – the NCA continued to ensure National Land is maintained and presented in excellent condition. National events such as Australia Day, Anzac Day and Reconciliation Week showcased Canberra in national media, highlighting its national role and significance.

The NCA’s committed and enthusiastic volunteers are recognised and supported in their work

Achieved – the NCA recognises and supports its valuable volunteer program including by providing relevant training and administrative support.

1.3 Provide enhanced opportunity for access to the experience of the National Capital and its story of the Nationa Capital and its story of the Australian people, both physically and digitally

National Land supports Canberrans and visitors to be active, healthy and connected to one another through community and cultural events, and recreation activities

Achieved – National Lands were a focal point in 2019-20 for the Canberra and regional communities to be active, healthy and to stay connected, especially during times where COVID-19 restricted other family and community activities. There were an estimated 1.5 million visitors to events held on NCA-managed lands in 2019-20. The trial of the Aqua Park at Black Mountain Peninsula over the summer period provided an additional recreational opportunity.

Stage 88 in Commonwealth Park hosts a strong summer concert series of national and international acts

Not Achieved – The venue was schedule to hold a series of concerts from late January to March 2020. However, smoke from bushfires and COVID-19 mass gathering restrictions required these events to be cancelled.

New large-scale and popular events are held on NCA-managed land

Partially achieved – new events were trialled but bushfire smoke and COVID-19 restrictions severely reduced thee opportunity for holding new largerscale events such as at Stage 88.

A number of new events and visitor experiences have been trialled across the National Estate

Achieved – New events include Beer Fest, Spartan, Foam Fest, Drive-in Cinemas, Tuff Nutterz and Kanga Cup. Other new events were planned such as Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, Hot Dub Wine Machine, Australian Open in the Gardens, but were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings. The Aqua Park at Black Mountain Peninsula was successfully trialled over the summer period.

New hospitality offerings are available at Regatta Point.

Partially achieved – significant planning, procurement and preparatory work took place in 2019-20; progress was slowed because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; work continues in 2020-21. An outdoor coffee cart was secured to provide a hospitality offering to the public until the new facilities are available.

1.4 Collaborate with the national institutions, the ACT Government and other partners to collectively market the National Triangle

Linking National Institutions with the NCA to promote a unified and cohesive tourism message to attract visitors to the National Triangle

Partially achieved – detailed planning and preparation took place in 2019-20; a signage suite for the National Triangle has been developed and agreed, and will be progressively rolled out over coming years

Continuing to support joint marketing initiatives with other cultural institutions (such as the Culture Loop Bus)

Partially achieved – the NCA continued to contribute to and otherwise support joint marketing initiatives in 2019-20. Further work has been delayed because of the impact of COVID-19.

Exploring opportunities for new NCA outreach programs targeting regional and remote communities

Achieved – a number of programs and activities were released online and provided through digital channels.

Advancing navigational and wayfinding signage throughout the National Triangle to enhance the national story

Achieved – a signage suite for the National Triangle has been developed and agreed, and will be progressively rolled out over coming years.

Continuing to enhance the NCA’s website structure, navigation and functionality based on feedback and user experience, including dedicated digital features such as video content which will assist with outreach in regional and remote Australia.

Achieved – a number of programs and activities were released online and provided through digital channels.

Analysis of Performance Against Purpose
During 2019-20, the NCA continued to fulfil its role in encouraging Australians and visitors to celebrate the story of Canberra, Australia’s National Capital.

Before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCA was on track to achieve its visitation targets and increase the use of land for new and refreshed public events within the National Triangle. From March 2020, the pandemic forced the closure of the National Capital Exhibition (NCE) and the cancellation of a number of planned events and activities. NCA’s public amenities such as playgrounds and toilets were required to close at that time in line with public health directives from the Commonwealth and ACT Governments.

Before the impact of the pandemic, the National Capital Exhibition (NCE) continued to perform strongly in the education market retaining its projected visitor numbers. Closed from March 2020 and needing to cancel all school programs, the NCE refocused its activities with the creation of new digital content. A number of programs and activities were released online and provided through digital channels including with the addition of the Story of Canberra film and a number of Little Griffins educational YouTube video content.

NCA-guided walking tours include Anzac Parade, Reconciliation Place, the Old Parliament House Gardens, Commonwealth Park and Lake Burley Griffin. Walking tours made up 11 per cent of our overall visitation, an increase from 10 per cent in 2018-19. The NCA continued to have increased numbers of people taking NCA-guided walking tours in 2019-20, prior to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of the tours in March 2020 resulted in a 22 per cent year-on-year decline with 5625 people joining a tour in 2019-20. All NCA programs closed on 16 March 2020 and the exhibition closed from the 18 March 2020 in light of the pandemic.

Aerial view of central Canberra, photographed by Martin Ollman

Prior to its closure in September 2019 for refurbishment and improvements to the musicality of the instrument, the Carillon chimed for a number of performances and concerts twice a week from July 2019 until September 2019. A total of 18 concerts were held during this time.

A particularly memorable concert was held on UN International Day by Thomas Laue to remember victims of terrorism. From September, the NCA undertook Carillon bell installation works and Aspen Island renovations. Additional ‘G’ and ‘D’ Bells were added to complete the instrument’s range – these two bells were not included in the original Carillon design and construction. The new ‘G’ bell is known as the Ngunnawal bell.

With some delays to the works with the pandemic and the bell manufacturers located in the UK, the NCA focused on improving the landscape and public spaces on Aspen Island. The Island has newly-created accessible grassed area, upgraded walking paths and safety improvements to the beach area.

Blundells Cottage was closed for most of 2019-20 because of extreme weather over the Christmas period and smoke affecting the capital and, in early 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Panoramic view of central Canberra from Mount Ainslie, photographed by Dom Northcott
The NCA’s travelling exhibition, Brick by Brick: Build Your Own Capital was officially retired in Queenstown, Tasmania. Having been to Hobart and Burnie earlier in the year and with the exhibition travelling throughout Australia over a seven-year period, it was time to officially retire the exhibition and donate the furniture to help schools and child care centres further engage in creative play. The NCA received an overwhelming response to the expression of interest for the furniture donation in Tasmania. The donation of the purpose built LEGO tables and exhibition materials will continue to keep the story of the National Capital alive for young Tasmanians.

Little Griffins, the learning and play program for toddlers and pre-schoolers continued to be popular. The program went online in April 2020 to enable parents and children to continue to take part in the program from their home. Monthly sessions were conducted, and when the program was hosted at the NCE, 143 children and adults attended the six face-to face sessions. The online program was launched on 26 April and has continued to be released each month. By the end of the financial year, the April program had been watched 230 times and the May program had been watched 80 times. The total of 453 views and attendances is a 218% increase over 2018-19. Delivery online to an expanded audience has provided parents and carers with engaging activities during pandemic restrictions.

Throughout 2019-20, the NCA continued its role and responsibility to increase the awareness of the National Capital through integrated and targeted marketing communications strategies including media, advertising and social media and tourism engagement activities.

Our engagement continued to grow on the NCA managed social media channels with Twitter followers up from 3,345 in 2018-19 to 3,550 in 2019-20 (a 6.1 per cent increase) and Facebook followers up from 3,261 in 2019-19 to 4,535 in 2019-20 (a 39.1 per cent increase). Our Facebook engagement continued to increase with regular comments and activity on all social media
channels. Top performing posts in 2019-20 include the Reconciliation Week Carillon illuminations in May 2020, the build your own capital Lego Challenge in April 2020 and Parliamentary Zone activities in October 2019.

The very successful Tree Management Policy consultation and engagement strategy was undertaken in 2019-20. Having a lengthy consultation and engagement period and the release of a draft policy in February 2020, this policy will ensure that the treescape managed by the NCA continues to be one of the most remarkable in the world.

Through community consultation and engagement sessions throughout the year, the NCA received community views and actively engaged with stakeholders on a number of Works Approvals and Draft Amendments to the National Capital Plan. Some of the larger consultations included consultation on the former CSIRO Headquarters site in Campbell, the commercial accommodation proposal for the National Arboretum, trial of an Aqua Park at Black Mountain Peninsula, the public domain upgrade between the Lake and the National Gallery of Australia, Lake wall remediation program and the Regatta Point redevelopment. Comprehensive community consultation on Draft Amendment 95, the creation of a new diplomatic estate commenced
in February 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the NCA to examine our communication and consultation methods and processes to seek the best ways to facilitate effective public engagement. The NCA will continue to assess the ways in which it engages to ensure it is adaptive and responsive to change.

Events that took place prior to mid-March 2020, experienced high levels of visitor participation. Floriade 2019 achieved its highest attendance ever with over 500,000 visitors. The Enlighten festival attracted 200,000 visitors.

DID YOU KNOW? The design of Magna Carta Place is based on an ancient English funeral mound or barrow, which has been cut away to reveal the treasure inside (being the Magna Carta).

New events to NCA-managed lands were successful – Beer Fest attracted 4,500 patrons, Spartan had 2,500 participants and Spilt Milk achieved its highest ticket sales at 32,000. The Cold Chisel concert in January 2020 sold over 12,000 tickets. Carols by Candlelight moved to a Saturday and achieved its highest attendance of 10,000. Summer events such as Australia Day and Open-Air Cinema were downsized due to smoke and any event that was scheduled after mid-March was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, including events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Carillon.

Despite the challenging conditions in 2020, a total of 407 events and an estimated 1.5 million visitors attended events held on NCA-managed land in 2019-20, compared with 622 events in 2018-19.

Venues on National Land continue to be popular for major events including Floriade, Skyfire, Enlighten, Australia Day celebrations, Anzac Day Commemorations, Queen’s Birthday celebrations, sporting and music festivals. Usage of National Land for events was severely affected by smoke haze caused by the bushfires in 2019-20 as well as the mass gathering restrictions imposed on outdoor events due to COVID-19.

The NCA works closely with numerous commercial event operators and the ACT Government’s events team to create safe and exciting festivals on National Land to support community wellbeing and to underpin the regional visitor economy.

 Total visitors 97,054 (174,407K in 2018/2019), 99% of visitors agreed that their visit to the NCE gave them a greater awareness and appreciation of Canberra, 99% of visitors rated their experience as excellent or good. Brick by Brick: Retirement and donation of Travelling Exhibition in Tasmania The National Capital Exhibition Anzac Parade Memorials & Reconciliation Place, All added to the secondary tier of institution for the Pacer program. Events: 622 in 2018/2019, 407 total events held on National Land attracting an estimated 1.5 million patrons. Revenue $402K ($313K in 2018/2019) Floriade's largest patronage to date 500,000 66 weddings, 57 sporting, 16 memorial ceremonies, 97 not-for profit Photo of Aqua Park at Black Mountain beach, Lake Burley Griffin, photographed by Ilona Fraser