The creative grants that respond to an artist’s needs

Brisbane City Council has done more than just listen to artists’ feedback; they have dramatically improved their funding model – creating advantageous opportunities for all.
The creative grants that respond to an artist’s needs

Image: Grace Law, 2017 Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artist Fellowship recipient.

Brisbane creatives have given feedback via the creative sector survey on their key needs and expectations and Brisbane City Council is actively listening. In response, Council’s grant streams have been modified, with an increase in the number of Creative Sparks and Innovation Grants now available, and the Lord Mayor’s Young and Emerging Artists Fellowships now offering a refined Sister Cities initiative. In total, the grants programs delivered by Council amount to a substantial $330,000 available to Brisbane artists.


Off the back of an independent survey instigated by Council, local creatives were asked to give feedback on their perceptions and confidence in the Brisbane creative sector.  The survey yielded an overwhelming positive result, with creatives optimistic about growing their practices and career outcomes.

Those surveyed expressed an interest in Council playing a major role in supporting, connecting and promoting Brisbane’s creative practitioners and creative enterprises in the city. The survey also showed that artists are seeking improved access to Council spaces in which they can develop their practice and take creative risks.

The review was triggered by three major reports: Creative Brisbane Creative Economy 2013-2022, the Brisbane Economic Development Plan 2012-2031 and the Brisbane 2022 New World City Action Plan. These strategies seek to strengthen the city’s liveability, its status as a creative hub, and to ensure creative minds can thrive in Brisbane.

The changes to funding models demonstrate the value of listening, consulting and initiating change, resulting in the creation of a new environment ripe for artistic innovation.


With only 24% of respondents surveyed having previously applied for funding through Council, the data suggests a lack of awareness of grants programs. By refreshing the previous grants model, Council hopes to cultivate a creative cultural network, ensuring a thriving artistic ecosystem with greater and more accessible visibility to funding opportunities.


The new-look Creative Sparks Grants Program, a partnership between Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government, now has three redefined streams. The program was devised to support artists, arts workers and creative producers in the development of new work, products and partnerships that extend creative practices – with the streams encouraging a diverse range of projects and ideas.

The program can be approached as a once-off grant or as a development pathway. The pathway ensures an educational process for emerging artists, allowing them to learn the processes of government and Council. This approach will also ensure new artists can build relationships with people within the industry and to teach young artists to maneuver through the funding world.

A. Creative Projects

The Category A stream is funding (up to $10,000) specifically for emerging artists who are within the first five years of their creative practice (keeping in mind you can be an emerging artist at any age). Category A specifically encourages emerging artists to experiment – Council is keen for artists to take risks with original and unique projects. 

B. Creative Development

Funding (up to $10,000) through Category B is available for advancing the development of a new work, concept, project, collaboration or practice. Mid-career or late-career artists who want to advance their career are encouraged to apply for this stream.

The potential for artists to advance their career prospects are immense and may include initiatives that expand an artist’s platform with presentations or other opportunities, masterclasses, training and mentoring.

C. Creative Economy

The Category C stream is funding for developed projects to be realised. The artist applying will be asked to provide evidence for a matched funding strategy (up to $10,000) with a business.

Matched funding can be demonstrated through philanthropy matched cash in-kind; in-kind mentoring from an organisation; a low interest loan, or crowd sourcing. Council invites creatives to come to the table with matched funding to show that their project is well on its way to realisation. Council has also removed previous restrictions for short film-makers.  If you are an artist or creative looking to re-establish your career or if you are looking to experiment with different disciplines, Council encourages you to apply through Category C.


The Lord Mayor's Young and Emerging Artists Fellowships supports young and emerging Brisbane artists and arts workers aged between 17 and 30 through training programs, mentorships and structured experiences.

This fellowship, established in 1996, is celebrating more than 30 years of achievements. The fellowship has helped support more than 100 young and emerging artists. Now a new initiative – incorporating travel to international sister cities – has been strengthened.

The unique and career-expanding sister cities opportunities will allow emerging artists to travel to cities such as Auckland, New Zealand (including Auckland Festival); Kobe, Japan (which has strong affiliations with the fashion industry); or Kaohsiung, Taiwan, at the Pier 2 Art Centre (notable for its dynamic emerging contemporary art community).


The Innovation Grants Program is the renewal of the Innovation Award and it has been re-designed to increase the support for new creative businesses, partnerships and start-ups to grow.

Three grants of $10,000 are now available to support and encourage new creative enterprises, partnerships and start-ups to develop. This will be a competitive process and the assessment panel will specifically be looking for something new or different introduced through the act of innovating.

Feedback from the sector called for Council to support more mentoring and pathway opportunities. Programs that looked to the longer term. This grant scheme encourages applicants to bring mentors, investors or philanthropists on board with them as a way of ensuring broader industry support for projects.


The refreshed funding programs aren’t the only changes taking place – Brisbane City Council wants artists and creatives to join them at one of Council’s grant information sessions. 

Specialist support staff will be present at the information sessions, allowing for group conversations and one-on-one consultations. Council encourages artists to bring a mentor to the information sessions. Alternatively, if artists seek to work with a Council-owned venue, an exhibition space or an arts business, these information sessions are a valuable opportunity to share your ideas and receive feedback to shape your grant application. To find out about the grants information sessions visit or sign up to Council’s Creative Register. The register will connect you with the latest news about Council’s creative opportunities, events and funding.

Not only are Council representatives available to chat about the grant programs on offer, they are open to conversations about the future of Brisbane – allowing the community to further enrich the cultural environment. Council is firm in its belief that a creative future can be achieved through learning and partnerships which support a multicultural ecosystem.

No image supplied

Andrea Simpson

Thursday 9 November, 2017

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy