Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships

Overview

First awarded in 2011, the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships provide unrestricted, tax-free grants over two years to individual Australian artists, creatives and cultural leaders. Specific outcomes for the Fellowships are not required. The Fellowships currently represent the largest single-program contribution to Australian individual artists, creators and cultural leaders in the country.

From 2011 to 2022, a total of 100 Fellowships were awarded, each worth $160,000. Following on from this $16 million investment and an evaluation of the program, Sidney Myer Fund Trustees resolved not only to continue the program from 2023 but to increase the value of each Fellowship to $200,000.

The two criteria used to select Fellows are: outstanding talent and exceptional courage. Specifically, this talent and courage relates to the creative practice of the Fellows and not to cases of personal hardship.

Nominations are welcome for artists, creators and cultural leaders across the entire spectrum of the visual, performing, interdisciplinary, new media and literary arts, as well as the humanities. Applicants to the program may not self-nominate and must include two referees who are not the nominator.

The Fellowships are intended for individuals in their ‘early mid-career’ – to be eligible, nominees must be at least seven years into their creative practice. They are also intended for those who will primarily be resident in Australia for the two years of their Fellowship.

Nominations for Fellowships in 2023 closed on Sunday 27 August 2023
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Application & Selection Process

To qualify for a Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, nominees must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident nominated by another individual (who is not a member of their family).

Nominations are reviewed by a national Peer Review Panel with consideration to two criteria: outstanding talent and exceptional courage. The Peer Review Panel will recommend the highest regarded nominations to the Trustees of the Sidney Myer Fund for endorsement.

Recent Awardees

2022 Sidney Myer Creative Fellows

The 2022 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship Selection Panel: Andrew Myer AM (Chair), Amos Gebhardt, Amrit Gill, Brian Ritchie, Cara Kirkwood, Jo Dyer, Sarah Goodes and Stephanie Lake.

Dr Alethea Beetson

Alethea is an artist and cultural leader, and the founder of Digi Youth Arts and BLAK SOCIAL

Carly Sheppard

Carly is a performance artist working across dance and theatre, sculpture, drawing, voice and installation

Eugenia Lim

Eugenia is an artist working with the body, performance, film, social and spatial practice

Fred Leone

Fred is a cultural leader, artist and one of the Butchulla Songmen

Ghenoa Gela

Ghenoa works across dance, theatre, comedy and screen as a storyteller, director, writer, choreographer and performer

Mindy Meng Wang

Mindy is a composer and contemporary Guzheng artist

Nam Le

Nam is a writer whose work encompasses fiction, non-fiction, poetry and screen

Rachel Arianne Ogle

Rachel is a dancer, choreographer, educator and mentor

Vincent Namatjira

Vincent is a painter from Indulkana on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in the north-west of South Australia

FAQs

‘Years of practice’ relates to the work of an artist, arts manager or thought leader in their nominated form outside the context of tertiary training – this can be in a paid or unpaid capacity. Generally speaking, and for the purposes of this program, artistic or creative practice follows formal training. Where a nominee does not have formal training, the beginning of their practice is commonly marked by a significant recognition of the artist’s work and the artist’s vocational commitment to ongoing practice.

The Fellowships are intended to support the careers of originating artists and cultural leaders. Arts and cultural workers whose practice is primarily in education or therapy (for example, music therapy) are not deemed eligible for this program.

An artist who has exercised a number of roles within an art form is deemed to have a continuous practice within that art form. That is, a nominee whose art form is the visual arts, and whose post-tertiary career began in art making and subsequently shifted to art curation will be regarded as having a continuous practice in the visual arts. In calculating their years of practice, the nominee should combine these two periods.

An artist whose career commenced as an actor and who subsequently shifted their focus exclusively to stage direction would be regarded as having a continuous theatre practice. A dancer who has moved into choreography will be regarded as having a continuous dance practice.

The Sidney Myer Fund recognises that many artists (with or without training in traditionally recognised art forms) are working in borderlands and new territories less clearly defined as a single arts practice. The Fund welcomes nominations for these artists provided they include a detailed biographic narrative clearly delineating the nature and duration of the practice which they are being nominated for.

Artists’ careers are not always linear, and the Fund recognises that there may be periods of time when the nominee has withdrawn from artistic practice.

A nominee may have taken a significant break from their artistic practice to care for children or others. This period of time should be taken into account when calculating their years of practice. For example, if a musician worked for four years, then took two years off to help raise a child, then returned to working as a musician for two more years before being nominated, their overall years of practice would be six (not eight).

Should an artist have more than one arts practice, then this will also be taken into consideration. For instance, an individual may have practiced as a fine arts painter for three years, then worked as a production designer or props maker for ten years, then returned to their visual arts practice as a curator for the following three years. The period of continuous practice in the art form for which the nominee is being nominated (the visual arts) is the cumulative total of six years, being three (painting) plus three (curation) over a sixteen-year period.

The Fellowship grant is untied. Fellows can spend their grants as they see fit.

We ask our Fellows to provide a brief written report at the end of year one and year two of the Fellowship.

Fellows must be Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents of Australia.

A nominator can choose to nominate more than one person for a Fellowship.

Fellows will receive their grants in tax-free yearly instalments of $100,000. Refer to the Australian Taxation Office’s Class Ruling declaring the Fellowships tax free for details.

Eight Creative Fellowships will be awarded in 2023.

On submitting the form, the nominator will receive a confirmation notice that it has been received. After the conclusion of the selection process nominators will receive a letter from the Fund advising them of the outcome.

2023 nominations open on 1 July 2023 and close on 27 August 2023.

The words ‘talent’ and ‘courage’ will mean different things to nominators in relation to their nominees depending on the nature of their practice and the context for this work. The nominator will need to identify what it is in relation to the nominee’s creative practice that most strongly distinguishes their outstanding talent and exceptional courage.

Please note, in the context of the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships, courage relates to the nominee’s arts practice (commonly illustrated through artistic challenges, daring innovation, breaking new ground and redefining the possible) and not to surmounting personal hardships. Personal sacrifice may indeed be formative but it does not, for the purposes of the selection process, equate to creative courage.

Employment or otherwise will not be considered in the selection process. The Fellowship is not means tested. That is, a nominee’s financial status (or employment) will not be considered when awarding the grants. A Fellow is free to earn other income during the Fellowship.

The question about art form relates to the art form in which the individual is nominated. These artforms include visual, performing and literary arts, digital and interdisciplinary arts, arts management, cultural leadership and the humanities. Nominees might be painters, sculptors, curators, dancers, choreographers, playwrights, actors, circus and physical theatre performers, comedy artists, dramaturgs, producers, directors, musicians, composers, conductors, multi art form practitioners, digital artists, designers, animators, editors, curators, publishers and leading voices in the humanities. If you are nominating an individual whose practice is in the humanities, please answer the question most closely relating to their humanities practice (for example, ‘writer’).

No more than five items can be submitted, including audio and visual files, support letters, and an artist CV of no more than two pages. Please note, as above, the CV should clearly corroborate the nominee’s biographic narrative in determining their years of practise. One support letter counts as one item of support material. One file type (for example, images or video or music files) counts as one item of support material. One page of testimonials or extracts from peer review counts as one item of support material. Support material should be carefully chosen and, where possible, should illustrate the nominator’s case for the artist’s talent and courage. Please ensure that all support material is clearly labelled with the nominee’s name. Along with the support material, you can supply a summary document that includes captions for images, or passwords for links, if required (this document does not count towards the maximum of five support material items).  

Hyperlinks to sites such as Vimeo or other password protected sites should where possible use the standardised password: Fellowship23

Individuals must be nominated by a third party for a Fellowship.

Referees should be well regarded individuals who can best speak to the nominee’s achievements and potential. Referees cannot also be nominators for the same nominee.

Preferably, the nominator will be the person who can best speak to the nominee’s artistic or cultural practice in the arts and/or humanities. A nominee cannot self-nominate and cannot be nominated by a member of their family.

The final decision about who receives the Fellowships is made by the Sidney Myer Fund Trustees on the recommendation of a national Peer Review Panel. Respected arts and cultural leaders from around the country are invited to join the Panel each year – the Panel’s membership is continually evolving. The Panel is only made public at the conclusion of each year’s judging.