Three people stand around a baby grand piano. They are smiling at the camera.
2021 Creative Arts Fellow, David Wickham, with soprano Helen Brown and violinist Christopher Latham

Applications for 2023 Creative Arts Fellowships are now closed. Applications for the 2024 program will open in early 2023.  

2023 Guidelines 

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)

Note: The funding will only be paid to the individual. It is recommended Fellows seek financial advice as the grant may have tax implications.

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 projects are ineligible?

You cannot apply for projects that:

  • contribute to your academic employment. Projects must be part of your independent creative practice.
  • form part of any official educational assessment including a PhD or Masters project.
  • are related to an author contract with NLA Publishing.
  • support research for works of non-fiction or literary criticism about Australian writing. These projects are supported through the NLA Fellowships program.   

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

How to use collection material

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, including Indigenous cultural protocols, that may apply to access to the selected collection items.  Information about access conditions can be found the catalogue record.  

Selection criteria

Applications are assessed against the following criteria:

  • 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. Please note that collection items that have been digitised and are available online will generally not meet this criteria.
  • 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 2022. 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 5pm (AEST), Tuesday 26 April 2022. Late or hardcopy applications or support material will not be accepted. You should allow for any time difference, and internet connection or submission issues. 

Mandatory fields, and word and file size limits apply. Previewing the application form will show you where limits apply. While completing the application, save regularly as you go. Once submitted, no changes can be made. 

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 should demonstrate substantial investigation into the materials held by the National Library that will be of benefit to the project.

Applicants should also demonstrate awareness of any access or rights issues, including Indigenous cultural protocols, that may apply to access to the selected collection items.  Information about access conditions can be found the catalogue record.  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. Residencies must be scheduled between 27 February 2023 and 15 December 2023. The Library will negotiate and confirm the residency dates with grant recipients.  The duration of the residency is expected to be 4 consecutive weeks.  In exceptional circumstances this may be varied slightly, but no further financial support will be offered..
  • 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
  • details of 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.

Artistic support material

Only provide support material relevant to your project. If the project is in an early development or conceptual stage, examples of previous work that shows your ability to achieve your outcomes can be used. 

The application form limits individual file attachments to 25MB. Label attachments clearly, for example, ‘CV’ not ‘Document 1’. 

Upload audio and/or video files to a file streaming site such as Vimeo or YouTube. Do not use Dropbox.

If you have a website or material online, provide the link to the material you want viewed. The relevant page/s must remain static until the assessment process is complete.

Maximum support material limits

  • Images: maximum ten images, as a single PowerPoint or PDF.
  • Text and print material: maximum ten pages, as a Word document or PDF. This material may include excerpts from a published work or script, a synopsis, critical reviews, etc.
  • Audio files: maximum two tracks up to four minutes in total, in mp3 format.
  • Video file: maximum two files up to four minutes in total, as URL web links.

Support material must be accessible to the assessors. We recommend you prepare and attach it in advance of the closing date.

What is expected of a Creative Arts Fellow?

Successful applicants will receive and must sign and return a Letter of Offer from the National Library. Fellows are required to:

  • give a live-streamed public presentation highlighting the use of the collections and progress of work at the end of the residency
  • acknowledge the support of sponsors in forums, performances, recordings, publications or artworks resulting from the Fellowship
  • deposit in the Library the results of the residency. This can be a published or unpublished work, reproduction or documentation of the artwork, with open access conditions for future research use
  • assist the Library to promote the Fellowship through media and public communications
  • provide a report within one month of the agreed end date of the Fellowship outlining their experience, which will be used by the Library to review, report on, and promote the Fellowships.


Fellows retain copyright of their artistic work but must clear copyright of collection materials used if applicable, and acknowledge and cite source materials appropriately.

If planning to re-purpose collection items within a new artwork, such as in-copyright materials, you must show evidence of the copyright owner’s consent, or that it is covered by a copyright exemption supported by advice from a recognised organisation (such as the National Association for the Visual Arts or the Arts Law Centre).

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

Privacy and confidentiality

The Library is committed to protecting your privacy.  We are bound by and comply with our obligations under the Australia Privacy Principles outlines in Schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth.)

When you submit an application for a fellowship, we may collect personal information from you such as your title, name, address, telephone number, email address, age group, name of your organisation, employment and education details, as well as any other information you include in your application. We may also collect sensitive information about you including whether you self-identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.
We may give the personal information we collect from you to our employees, contractors, members of the relevant Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant Advisory Committee, and by any government or governmental body, authority or agency having authority over the Library, so we can:

  • assess your application and manage the Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants programs;
  • contact you to seek additional information about your application;
  • where selection restrictions apply, informing assessors of the Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant program of your geographic location or age group;
  • provide you with information about future Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants programs which may be of interest (you can opt out of these updates at any time); and
  • research, assess, monitor and analyse our fellowship programs and activities.

Successful applicants’ names, title, position, employer, title of the fellowship project and the Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant awarded may be published on our website and social media platforms.

If you do not provide us with the above personal information, we will not be able to:

  • consider you for any Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant you may wish to apply for;
  • provide you with information on upcoming Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant rounds.

We use SmartyGrants, a cloud-based grant management system, to collect and store Fellowship, Scholarship and Grant applications. In providing this service, SmartyGrants may collect personal information submitted as part of an application form. SmartyGrants uses Amazon’s cloud-based filed storage system AWS S3, which is encrypted. All files stored within AWS S3 are located on servers controlled and managed by Amazon and are physically located in Australia.

The Library’s Privacy Policy, published on our website, contains more information about how we collect, hold, use and disclose your personal information, how you can access and correct this information and how you can contact us with any questions or privacy related complaints.

Confidential Information

We will keep any information in connection with your application for a Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant confidential to the extent that it meets all of the three conditions below:

  1. you clearly identify the information as confidential and explain why we should treat it as confidential;
  2. the information is commercially sensitive; and
  3. revealing the information would cause unreasonable harm to you or someone else.

We may disclose confidential information:

  • to members of the Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant Advisory Committee and the Library’s employees and contractors, to help us manage the Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant programs effectively; and
  • to employees and contractors of the Library so we can research, assess, monitor and analyse our programs and activities.

We may also disclose confidential information if:

  • required by law, or as required of the Library by any government or governmental body, authority or agency having authority over the Library;
  • required in connection with legal proceedings;
  • necessary for the proper discharge of the Library’s public accountability or reporting functions, including for the provision of information to a Minister, Parliament or a parliamentary committee;
  • required for the purpose of conducting an audit;
  • you agree to the information being disclosed; or
  • someone other than us has made the confidential information public.