A person with long brown hair sits in front of a recording microphone holding an acoustic guitar.
2021 National Folk Fellow, Archer, in the Library's recording studio.

Applications for the 2023 National Folk Fellowship are now closed. Applications for the 2024 program will open in early 2023.

2023 Guidelines 

The annual National Folk Fellowship is offered jointly by the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival. The National Library holds the most significant collections of folklore and related material in Australia. This Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for the recipient to discover and explore original collected material at the Library for use in their own artistic work. The outcome of this residency at the National Library will result in a performance at the 2023 National Folk Festival, and any recordings arising from the project will be acquired for the National Library’s Oral History and Folklore collection.

The Fellowship provides support for professional development of artistic practice through research in the Library's extensive folklore and related collections, as well as the documentation of the Fellow's work for the Library’s Collection.

The Folk Fellow is provided with:

  • A stipend of $8000. This is intended to cover return travel to Canberra for one person, living expenses and accommodation in Canberra for four weeks or equivalent, as well as project expenses for presentations at the 2023 National Folk Festival and at the National Library. The honorarium will be paid in two instalments, one at the commencement of the project and one mid-project.
  • Access to the National Library sound recording studios for up to 30 hours over the residency. This may include studio access to recordings which require preservation and for recording and mixing new performances
  • A master tape of any recordings made during the residency. The Fellow may use this in future commercial publications or public performances, with acknowledgment of the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival
  • Special and supported access to collections
  • Copies of source materials (within reasonable limits and according to access conditions)
  • A workstation with internet access and listening facilities
  • A guaranteed performance at the National Folk Festival in Canberra (April 2023). This performance must highlight the work undertaken during the Fellowship
  • A public presentation at the National Library that reflects on the goals, sources and achievements of the project (November 2023).

Please note: Fellowships are awarded to an individual. Funding will be paid directly to the individual for the purposes of supporting their Fellowship. Any other arrangements between the individual and their employer are the individual’s responsibility. As Fellowship support may have tax implications, it is recommended Fellows seek professional financial advice.


The National Folk Fellowship is open to established and emerging folk practitioners: musicians, singers, dancers, poets, performance artists and collector/performers.

You must be able to demonstrate:

  • a level of artistry required for a featured performance at the National Folk Festival
  • an effective project concept and plan that uses original source materials in developing the performance
  • the ability to undertake research in the National Library’s collections
  • the proposal is achievable within the timeframe of the residency and will suit performance at the National Folk Festival

Both Australian and overseas applicants are eligible to apply but the successful applicant must be available to fulfil the following requirements of the Folk Fellowship:

  • a 4-week residency, which may be taken between October 2022 and early February 2023
  • performance at the National Folk Festival (April 2023)
  • a live streamed, public presentation/performance at the National Library of Australia (November 2023)

You cannot apply if:

  • your research forms part of any educational assessment including a PhD thesis or Masters project
  • you have received a Fellowship at the National Library within the last 5 years

If you have any questions regarding the eligibility of your project, we encourage you to discuss your ideas with Fellowships staff at the National Library on 02 6262 1099 or

How to use collection material

The proposed project should clearly show how you will research and use the National Library's archival collections to meet your artistic/project goals.

You should describe how you intend to use source materials, including how these may assist to re-imagine or re-invent folklore traditions. You must demonstrate the relevance of particular collection materials to your project. If the source materials are likely to include content by or about Indigenous Australians, you must detail your plans regarding culturally appropriate consultation with Indigenous communities.

Fellows are free to create artistic work in their own style, but the approach should demonstrate an understanding of the value of original sources. For example, a performer could:

  • accurately recreate Australian traditions or styles
  • reinvent, arrange or re-imagine original sources
  • re-use original sources in works, recordings or publications
  • develop innovative artistic practice drawing on collection materials

The Library has an active folklore field collecting program, and its archival sound recordings date back to 1952. Additionally, the Library’s extensive collections of music, maps, pictures, performance memorabilia, historic newspapers, books and journals can provide rich context. While the archival recordings focus on Australian traditions, these cross a myriad of styles, genres and diverse cultural practices. To find out more about the collections consult the Library's website, search the catalogue or use the Ask a Librarian service for further assistance.

Completing the application form

Applications must be submitted using the online application form. Hardcopy or offline applications will not be considered.

Applications close on 5pm (AEST), Monday 21 June 2022. Late applications or support material will not be accepted. You should allow for any time difference, and internet connection or submission issues.  Results of the selection process will be made public by November 2022.

Mandatory fields, and word and file size limits apply. You will not be able to submit your application if the mandatory fields have not been completed or limits are exceeded. You can preview the form before starting an application, which will show you where limits apply. Once started, please save your form regularly. You can save and edit the application, however, no changes are possible after you have submitted.

Your application must demonstrate knowledge of the Library’s collections that are relevant to your project. Applicants who do not show investigation into how the Library’s collections will support their proposed research will not be selected. 

To complete the application, you will need to provide:

  • a short professional CV (up to 2 A4 pages)
  • a colour photograph (minimum 300 dpi with the name of the photographer if known)
  • a small portfolio of images, audio or audio-visual recordings, or website links that represents evidence of your artistic practice
  • two written references
  • a project proposal, including the material you wish to use as the foundation for your project, and what form your creative output will take.
  • a list of the collection materials you wish to access
  • project timeline

Assessment process

One Fellowship is awarded annually by the National Folk Fellowship selection panel.  The panel consists of representatives of the National Folk Festival, the National Library, and the Library's Fellowships Advisory Committee.

Applicants will be advised of the outcome by the end of September and should plan to undertake the residency between October 2022 and February 2023, noting the Library’s shutdown period over Christmas.  Successful applicants will receive a Letter of Offer and have their names published on the Library’s website. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email and may request feedback by contacting

In assessing applications, the selection panel will consider:

  • the quality and significance of the project 
  • the applicant’s artistic quality and capacity to undertake research in the collections 
  • the relevance of the collections to the project 
  • the practicality of the project (e.g. timelines, type of performance event)
  • protocols surrounding the use of Indigenous cultural material (if applicable). 

What is expected of a Fellow?  

Successful applicants will receive a Letter of Offer along with a Conditions of Appointment agreement that must be signed and returned. These documents outline the terms and conditions under which the Fellowship will proceed.

The Library will negotiate and confirm the residency dates with Fellows.  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.

Funding is paid directly to the individual in two instalments, one at the commencement of the project and one mid-project.  As this support may have tax implications, it is recommended Fellows seek professional financial advice.

All intellectual property rights (including copyright) in any work produced by the Fellow during their Fellowship will vest in the Fellow on its creation.

Fellows will be required to:

  • acknowledge the support of the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival in performances, recordings or publications resulting from the Fellowship
  • acknowledge and cite source materials appropriately
  • deposit a copy of any recordings made in the course of the Fellowship in the Library's collection and provide open access for research use
  • assist the Library and the Festival with media and public communication about their project, performances and fellowship.

Fellows have first rights to use any recordings made in the course of the Fellowship for up to three years, after which these access rights to the recordings will revert to the National Library of Australia. Copyright in the work is retained by the Fellows.

The copyright status of items in the Library’s collection varies. Before downloading, copying, adapting, publishing, distributing or otherwise reusing any of the items found in the Library’s collection, you are responsible for determining the copyright status and terms of use applicable for such items, and checking with and/or obtaining the copyright owner’s consent before using or reproducing such content.

For further information or to discuss your project, 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.