National Library of Australia

Creative Arts Fellowships

Guidelines for the 2022 program

Creative Arts Fellowships offer $10,000 to support writers and artists to spend four weeks at the National Library researching and developing a new artistic concept, artwork or body of work inspired or informed by the collections.  Two Fellowships are available:

Creative Arts Fellowship – using our collections, artists can progress or complete a new artwork or body of work. Artists may be working in any medium other than writing. This may include music, dance, visual arts, emerging or experimental artforms. The Creative Arts Fellowship is supported by the Friends of the Library.

Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing – using our collections, writers can progress or complete a new creative work. This may include working in any literary form or genre, but does not include works of non-fiction. The Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing is supported by the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.

Creative Arts Fellowship benefits

The Fellowship offers:

  • a four-week residency, to be taken in one period, which may be extended but without further funding 
  • $10,000 for use as a stipend, travel and accommodation support, and project expenses 
  • special and supported access to collections 
  • access to office facilities and a workstation in a shared space with other research Fellows
  • copies of collection materials (within set limits and according to access and copyright conditions)

Who can apply?

To be eligible, you must be:

  • An individual creative practitioner or artist practising in a professional forum, that is, your artistic work is available and subject to public and peer review. 
  • An Australian Citizen or permanent resident.

Only one application per person is allowed. That is, you cannot apply for both a Creative Arts Fellowship and a Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing.

You cannot apply if you have received a National Library Fellowship within the last five years.

What are Creative Arts Fellowships?

The Creative Arts Fellowship and Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing are for works inspired by the Library’s unique, rare or comprehensive collections. Works can be at any stage of development but must require direct access to the collections to progress or be completed. The final work, which does not have to be finished within the residency period, should showcase the collections in unique or interesting ways, and acknowledge their contribution through commentary or in the artwork. 

The collections can be used to:

  • reimagine or repurpose existing materials
  • research original sources that underpin or inspire new work
  • arrange, adapt or transform collection content for another purpose
  • develop an innovative artistic concept or practice

Your application must demonstrate knowledge of and identify specific Library collections that are relevant to your project. For example, it is not enough to seek to access ‘dance collections’. You must identify the relevant manuscripts, objects, ephemera, etc. within the Library’s dance or other collections.  This can be done using the Library catalogue. The Ask a Librarian service may provide some initial guidance.  Applicants who do not show investigation into how the Library’s collections will support their proposed research will not be selected. Applicants should also demonstrate awareness of any access or rights issues that may apply to access to the selected collection items. Information about access conditions can be found in the catalogue record.

Selection criteria

Applications are assessed against the level of:

  • artistic concept and its relationship with the collection materials
  • professional artistic practice
  • knowledge of, and need to access on site, the National Library’s unique, rare or comprehensive collections
  • ability to use reference and research resources
  • planning, including a realistic timeline
  • capacity to communicate their artwork to a general audience

Assessment process

National Library staff read and shortlist applications against the eligibility and the selection criterion. An independent assessment committee is provided with the shortlisted applications and a list of all applications. Committee members can call into consideration applications that are not on the shortlist. The Committee comprises representatives from the Library Council, arts organisations and institutions, and the Director-General of the National Library.

Decisions will be announced November 2021. Successful applicants receive a Letter of Offer and have their names published on the National Library’s website. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email and can seek feedback by contacting

Completing the application

Applicants must be submitted online by 1pm (AEST), Monday 26 July. Late or hardcopy applications or support material will not be accepted. 

Your application should focus on how the Library's unique collections, accessible only on-site, can contribute to your project outcomes.  Applications listing collection items that are published works and held by multiple libraries across the country, or collection items that are digitised and readily available online, are not likely to be successful in gaining a Fellowship.  Applications also need to show substantial investigation into the materials h eld by the National Library that will be of benefit to the project, as well as any rights and access issues that may need to be addressed.  If collection material cannot be made available due to access conditions, your application will not be successful.

To complete the application, you will need:

  • proposed start and end dates for your residency. These dates are indicative and final dates will be negotiated with Fellows. Residencies may be taken between 21 February and 16 December 2022.
  • a short biographical statement
  • a project title and synopsis
  • a project description including artistic rationale, context, and expected short and long term outcomes. You should consider how the project will add value to your own and your field of creative practice.
  • information on any contract or agreement for a public presentation of the work
  • information on any other funding support, such as grants or commissions
  • to have identified the collection material you will be accessing and its relevancy to your project, including any rights and access issues that may need to be addressed
  • a timeline and research plan
  • a two page artistic CV
  • artistic support material that is recent, of high quality and relevant to your project
  • contact details of two referees. Provide referees with a copy of your application. Referees of shortlisted applicants will be contacted by the Library.

For more information or to discuss your planned project, please contact: or 02 6262 1099.

Applications close
26 Jul 2021
All artforms
Grant Type
Applicant Type
Australian Capital Territory
National Library of Australia (opens in new window)
Georgia McDonald