The mandate (objects) of the NAC is set out in its founding legislation, the NAC Act (1997).
- To provide, and encourage the provision of, opportunities for persons to practice the arts
- To promote the appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of the arts
- To promote the general application of the arts in the community
- To foster the expression of a national identity and consciousness by means of the arts
- To uphold and promote the right of any person to freedom in the practice of the arts
- To give the historically disadvantaged such additional help and resources as are required to give them greater access to the arts
- To address historical imbalances in the provision of infrastructure for the promotion of the arts
- To promote and facilitate national and international liaison between individuals and institutions in respect of the arts
- To develop and promote the arts and to encourage excellence in regard to these.