Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships

Overview

First awarded in 2011, the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships provide unrestricted, $200,000 tax-free grants over two years to individual Australian artists, creatives and cultural leaders. Specific outcomes for the Fellowships are not required. 

In 2024, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust will join the Sidney Myer Fund in appointing Creative Fellows. The Trust will award two Ian Potter Creative Fellowships annually, with the same value, criteria and structure as the Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships.

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 arts and 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.

In the 2024 round, there will be eight Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships and two Ian Potter Creative Fellowships on offer. With a total annual budget of $2 million, all ten Fellowships will be selected from the same pool of nominations, to ensure nominators only need to make one submission. 

Nominations will open on 1 July 2024. Sign up to our mailing list for notifications.

Application & Selection Process

To qualify for a 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 panel of industry advisors with consideration to two criteria: outstanding talent and exceptional courage. Nominations that are recommended by the industry advisory panel form the basis of a shortlist from which Sidney Myer Fund’s Arts & Culture Committee then recommends recipients to the boards of The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and Sidney Myer Fund.

Recent Awardees

2023 Sidney Myer Creative Fellows

The Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships are awarded by the Trustees of Sidney Myer Fund on the recommendation of its Arts & Culture Committee. The list of recipients is drawn, on an exclusive basis, from a shortlist of recommendations from expert industry advisors. The industry advisors for the 2023 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowships included: Anna Krien, Clothilde Bullen, Fiona Winning, Freya Waterson, Genevieve Lacey, Helen Marcou AM, Kate Fell, Katrina Sedgwick OAM, Mitzi Goldman, Nam Le, Paul Jackson, Sarah Holland-Batt, Stefan Gregory, Sue Giles AM, Tait Brady and Tarun Nagesh.

Adena Jacobs

Adena is a theatre director whose productions incorporate queer and feminist renderings of mythic texts, hallucinatory landscapes and rich sound scores

Christine Kenneally

Christine is a writer and long-form journalist whose work has addressed subjects including the global orphanage system and the catastrophic Black Saturday bushfires

Emma Jones

Emma is a writer whose work encompasses poetry, verse fiction, and libretti

Freyja Wild

Freyja is a contemporary circus artist, who has toured the world, subverting gender roles and embodying feminine strength

John Harvey

John is a writer, director and producer across theatre and film, and the Creative Director of Brown Cabs

Matthias Schack-Arnott

Matthias is an artist, composer and percussionist, whose works span live performance, public art and installation

Melanie Lane

Melanie is a choreographer and performer working across visual arts, theatre, music and film

Sara Mansour

Sara has founded, directed and led cultural institutions and events that have created lasting connections and amplified the voices of marginalised communities

S. Shakthidharan

Shakthi is a storyteller who writes, directs and produces theatre and film, and composes original music.

FAQs

‘Years of practice’ relates to the work of an artist, creative or cultural 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.

Similarly, 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 Fellowships recognise that many artists (with or without training in traditionally recognised art forms) are working in new territories less clearly defined as a single arts practice. We welcome nominations for these artists provided they include a detailed biographic narrative clearly delineating the nature and duration of the practice for which they are being nominated.

Artists’ careers are not always linear, and we recognise 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 artform 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.

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 an emailed letter advising them of the outcome.

2024 nominations open on 1 July 2024 and close on 25 August 2024.

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 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 'artform' relates to the form of practice in which the individual is nominated. Artforms might include circus, comedy, community arts, cultural leadership, dance, design, film, humanities, literature, live art, music, nonfiction, theatre, or visual arts.

The question about 'artform category' allows you to choose just one broad grouping with which the nominee is most closely aligned. For interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary artists, please select the category which best aligns with the nominee's primary creative practice. You can offer further detail or qualification in the artform field above.

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).  

The total cumulative duration of any video or audio content across the five items must not exceed 20 minutes.

Hyperlinks to sites such as Vimeo or other password protected sites should where possible use the standardised password: Fellowship24

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 in their practice. 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.

Industry advisors are accomplished and respected arts and cultural leaders from around the country – the membership of this group is continually evolving and seeks to represent a diverse and representative array of informed perspectives. The identities of industry advisors are only made public at the conclusion of each year’s selection process.