Awards and Opportunities: Vogel announced, Minderoo grants and more

Big opportunities to support the music industry, plus a bumper week for writing prizes and an Australian artist flying the flag in Sarajevo.
Awards and Opportunities: Vogel announced, Minderoo grants and more Sydney Theatre Company's award recipients Ra Chapman (left) and Angus Cerini (far right) with the company's Literary Manager Polly Rowe and Artistic Director Kip Williams . Image by Daniel Boud.

Staff writer

Wednesday 5 May, 2021


The big opportunity this week comes from Support Act, the music industry charity offering relief during crisis. Seeing the end of JobKeeper but knowing the impact of COVID closures is still being felt, Support Act has introduced MusicKeeper and CrewKeeper (cheekily named to echo the government programs). Grants are for anyone working professionally in music from cabaret stars to riggers and they’ve already had 600 applications for help. The total pool of support is $1.2 million which should hopefully protect the careers of many artists.


For writers, The Big Issue has opened up submissions for its 2021 fiction edition, with editors looking for stories between 500-3000 words in length. They offer a flat fee of $500. Winners will be published in the magazine, which in the past has featured the likes of Michael Mohammed Ahmed, Melanie Cheng and Christos Tsiolkas. Submissions close 31 May.

The Minderoo Foundation has opened up its annual artist fund aimed at supporting ‘artists in pursuit of sustainable careers’ with residencies and grants on offer. Grants are for independent artists and involve a two-step process of Expression of Interest (EOI) then full application. The EOI process is streamlined but you’d want to get onto it quickly as applications close 9 May.

More opportunities you may have missed

The winners

Writing and Publishing

Two big prizes for writers in recent days with the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) celebrated as part of the Sydney Writers Festival and the awarding of the Vogel Award for young writers.

First the ABIAs, with a star-studded award ceremony last week featuring Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey (see the whole ceremony below) which saw the book of the year presented to Julia Baird for Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When The World Goes Dark (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate); it also won Non-Fiction Book of the Year.

Other winners included:

  • Children's Picture Book of the Year (ages 0-6): Our Home, Our Heartbeat, Adam Briggs, Kate Moon and Rachael Sarra (Hardie Grant Children's Publishing, Little Hare);
  • Small Publishers' Children's Book of the Year: Bindi, Kirli Saunders; Illustrated by Dub Leffler (Magabala Books);
  • Audio Book of the Year: Tell Me Why, Archie Roach; narrated by Archie Roach (Sound Kitchen, Simon & Schuster Australia, Simon & Schuster Australia;
  • Biography Book of the Year: The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku (Pan Macmillan Australia, Macmillan Australia);
  • Illustrated Book of the Year: In Praise of Veg  by Alice Zaslavsky (Allen & Unwin, Murdoch Books);
  • Literary Fiction Book of the Year: A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessica Tu (Allen & Unwin);
  • Small Publishers' Adult Book of the Year: The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay (Scribe Publications);
  • The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year: The Coconut Children by Vivian Pham (Penguin Random House, Vintage Australia);
  • International Book of the Year: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Circus);
  • Book of the Year for Older Children (ages 13+): The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin);
  • Book of the Year for Younger Children (ages 7-12): The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor (Affirm Press, Affirm Press);
  • Lloyd O’Neil Hall of Fame Award : Mandy Macky;
  • Pixie O’Harris Award: Maryann Ballantyne (Children’s Publisher, Wild Dog Books);
  • Publisher of the Year: Random Penguin House;
  • Small Publisher of the Year: University of Queensland Press;
  • Book retailer of the Year: Readings Melbourne;
  • Bookshop of the Year: Avid Reader Brisbane; and,
  • Rising Star Award: Pooja Desai.


The full prize ceremony for the ABIAs.

This year’s The Australian/Vogel Award for a writer under 35 went to Emma Bachelor a 32-year-old Canberran writer for her novel Now That I See You. The auto-fiction novel follows 18 months in a long-term relationship where one partner tells another that they are transgender.

Judge Stephen Romei called the novel, 'a psychological masterclass in exploring why and how we become who we are and what that means for the people closest to us’.

Performing arts

Emma Greenhill will create a new piece of music as winner of the composition-to-choreography competition MadeBy. The Blue Mountains composer’s winning composition was Regrowth, a meditation on the 2019-20 bushfires and nature's resiliency. Greenhill will collaborate on a new dance work based on this piece and will receive mentoring from performer Cat Hope and paired with an emerging choreographer.

Sydney Theatre Company has announced Angus Cerini as their new Patrick White Playwrights Fellow, just six months after his gothic two-hander Wonnangatta starring Hugo Weaving and Wayne Blair was presented by the company. Now in its 11th year, the $25,000 Fellowship is awarded annually to an established playwright in recognition of their excellent body of work and achievements. As well as including a commission from STC, which each Fellow develops during their year-long engagement, the tenure provides opportunities for the playwright to share their skills with other playwrights and artists including the STC Emerging Writers Group.

STC's 2021 Patrick White Playwrights Award went to Ra Chapman for her play K-BOX, which was presented as a rehearsed reading in the Richard Wherrett Studio at the Roslyn Packer Theatre. The Patrick White Playwrights Award offers a cash prize of $7,500 for a full length, unproduced play of any genre written by an Australian playwright over 18 years of age. K-BOX would have marked Chapman’s mainstage debut at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre in 2020 but the production was cancelled due to COVID. It was performed as a rehearsed, staged reading at the announcement ceremony on Tuesday night (4 May).

STC has also announced a new cohort of Emerging Writers, featuring four talented up-and-coming playwrights: Monikka Eliah, Michael Louis Kennedy, Kirsty Marillier and Dylan Van Den Berg. They will participate in a two-year program which aims to support professional development, expand skill sets and encourage the carving out of distinctive voices.

Former director of the Australian Ballet David McAllister AM has been awarded the Royal Academy of Dance’s internationally coveted Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award at a gala lunch celebrating his career. The event, entitled ‘David McAllister This Is Your Life’ saw guests via video and in real life including McAllister's partner Wesley Enoch, childhood friend and ex dancer Dareen Spowart and members of McAllister's family all paying tribute to his career. The event was crowned with the presentation of the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, recognised internationally as one of the most sought-after in the world of dance and the highest honour from the Royal Academy of Dance.

Visual Arts

Former Bosnian refugee Saidin Salkic has been recognised in a permanent exhibition to be installed in Australia’s consulate in Sarajevo. The exhibition, Human Angst and Joy reflects on Salkic’s personal experience, inspired in part by the Srebrenica genocide. Salkic, also known as ‘Mido’, is a prolific Australian contemporary artist and filmmaker with works featured in in exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Gratz and Cork.

As a 12 year old his family was in a UN declared ‘safe area’ which was overrun by Bosnian Serb troops; they were later among thousands of Bosnian Muslims to seek refuge in Australia in 1995. Salkic hopes his art will bring more empathy; he said ‘We can identify with those in others and that can make us more human. The aim of this exhibition is to make everyone more human and more connected and closer together and more understanding of each other as equal, unique beings that we are.’

Check out these upcoming awards and prizes.

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