Who can apply?

The National Folk Fellowship is open to established and emerging folk practitioners: musicians, singers, dancers, poets, performance artists, 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 must be achievable within the timeframe of the residency and suit performance at the National Folk Festival.

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

  • a 4-week residency (typically taken between November-January)
  • performance at the National Folk Festival (March or April)
  • deliver a public presentation (November following the Folk Festival)

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. 

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 or contact relevant staff at the National Library. Search the catalogue or Ask a librarian for assistance.

What are the benefits of the National Folk Fellowship?

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 Collection.

Fellows are 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, and project expenses. The stipend 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 and the National Folk Festival
  • Special access to the research facilities and collection
  • 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 in the Festival following the residency (March or April). 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 (normally held in November after the Festival)

What are the obligations of the National Folk Fellows?

Fellows must:

  • acknowledge the support of the National Library and the National Folk Fellowship 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.

How are Folk Fellows selected?

One fellowship is awarded annually by a National Folk Fellowship panel. The panel is chaired by a member of the National Library's Fellowships Advisory Committee and includes representatives of the National Folk Festival and National Library.

Applicants will be advised of the outcome by September of each year and should plan to take up the residency three to six months before the following year's National Folk Festival.

Selection is based on 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 and the practicality of the project (eg timelines, type of performance event).

Application process and closing date

Applications closed noon, 12 July 2019 (AEST).  Late applications will not be accepted.  

You can only apply online.

The application form asks for your details, relevant folklore experience, a project proposal and timeline, and the relevance of collections to your project.

You will need to upload: 

  • 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 completed referees' reports, with contact details, from two relevant individuals who can support your research proposal

You should also submit a Performer Expression of Interest to perform at the 2020 National Folk Festival in July 2019.

Contact: fellowships@nla.gov.au