Opportunities for First Nations Artists

Aside from our core grants program, which is open to individuals, artists and organisations on an ongoing basis, the Australia Council also offers the below opportunities, which are open only to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artists.

The Red Ochre Award $50,000 (each)

The prestigious Red Ochre Award pays tribute to a senior Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person for their outstanding lifetime achievement in the arts and their contribution to the recognition of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander arts, both nationally and internationally.
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The Dreaming Award $20,000 

The Dreaming Award recognises an inspirational young artist aged 18-30 years and supports them to create a major body of work through mentoring and partnerships, either nationally or internationally. 
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First Nations Emerging Career Development Award (Applications are now closed)

The First Nations Emerging Career Development Award 2020 is the result of Australia Council’s Workplace Giving scheme 2019-2020. Through the generous contributions from our staff and board, $20,000 has been raised to help further the career of two (2) emerging First Nations artists or arts workers.

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First Nations Contemporary Music Program (Applications are now closed)

Australia Council for the Arts has received funding from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication through the Office of the Arts to provide grants to the First Nations Music Industry aimed at increasing development opportunities for musicians and bands.

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ARIA-PPCA-Australia Council First Nations Sound Recording Partnership $18,500 (Applications are now closed)

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) in partnership with the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) and the Australia Council for the Arts will deliver a grant partnership, the ARIA-PPCA-Australia Council First Nations Sound Recording Partnership. This partnership will support five First Nations Australian artists or groups to create new sound recordings. The ARIA PPCA Australia Council First National Sound Recording program is a part of the Australian Music Industry Package announced in the 2019-2020 Budget.

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Cherish Fund II $5,000 to $50,000 (Applications are now closed)

The Cherish II Fund is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption experienced by the First Nations arts and cultural sector and community. The Cherish II Fund has been informed by the First Nations Roundtables and the sector discussions and consultations in which the themes have focused on the sector priorities and needs through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Australia Council Fellowship for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Arts $80,000 (Applications are now closed)

The Australia Council offers a Fellowship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts of $80,000 support outstanding, established artists’ creative activity and professional development for a period of up to two years.

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First Nations Writers' Residency (Applications are now closed)

The Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Magabala Books are calling on applications for the First Nations Writers’ Residency to be held in Broome between 4 -13 May 2020. The residency will enable 6 participants to be immersed in their craft of writing and have the space to reflect and reconnect to their practice in collaboration with likeminded creatives. 

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Signature Works  $10,000 - $25,0000 (Applications are now closed)

Signature Works is an invitation only opportunity. Signature creative works impact artists, audiences and markets. The richness of creative ideas translated to an engaging experience for audiences, furthers market growth opportunities and provides an insight into the vitality and vibrancy of First Nations arts in the national and international arts landscape.

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Chosen up to $50,000 (Nominations are now closed)

Chosen allows First Nations communities to take control and plan for how they will nurture younger people from their community/sector in the arts and/or culture. Chosen sets out to reinvigorate the cultural practice of master apprentice relationships and mentorships within the arts community and sector, successful projects will facilitate intergenerational transfer of knowledge.
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The Custodianship program (Applications are now closed)

Unearthing First Nations leadership by developing different ways of knowing, being and doing. Connecting legacy between past and future generations. The Custodianship program is designed by First Nations leaders for First Nations leaders to transform sustainability in culture, practice, community and the arts.

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The Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FESTPAC) - Expressions of interest (Applications are now closed)

FESTPAC-Hawaiʻi 2020 will feature live performances, cultural workshops, hands-on demonstrations, film, storytelling and more, exemplifying the diversity of traditional and contemporary arts and culture across Oceania.

Australia Council for the Arts are calling on expressions of interest from individuals, groups and organisations to be part of the Australian Delegation.

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Please visit our funding page to find all the other current opportunities available to all artists and arts workers.

Need help with your application? Contact a Grants Officer now.


Survey of First Nations Music Artists

The future growth of the First Nations music sector requires First Nations artists to be at centre of dialogue and decision-making, driving the creative vision and empowered to step into their role as custodians of the oldest musical practice in the world, ensuring that the next generation can benefit through creativity and participate in a cultural future. Results from the Survey of First Nations Music Artists is out now.

Explore the survey results


Impacts of COVID-19 on First Nations arts and culture

This paper outlines the immediate and longer term needs, concerns and potentially catastrophic impacts for First Nations arts and culture in light of COVID-19. This includes potential for the most significant loss of arts, culture and language since the arrival of the First Fleet. Drawing on research and sector intelligence, the paper highlights opportunities for First Nations arts specific support and cross-portfolio advocacy and engagement.

Download the paper


First Nations' Roundtables

The Australia Council for the Arts hosted a series of First Nations' Roundtables for arts and creative independents, and organisations, to discuss the current situation that affects us all in relation to COVID-19.

We appreciate that you are all managing challenging circumstances and that people want to have a First Nations perspective on these rapidly changing times.

A weekly Roundtable enabled people to connect, share and put forward ideas on how we navigate this period of the COVID-19 challenge.

Watch the Roundtables 

Creating Art Part 1: The makers’ view of First Nations theatre and dance

Creating Art Part 1: The makers’ view of First Nations theatre and dance is the latest study in a series commissioned by the Australia Council with the aim of supporting the First Nations arts sector to connect more Australians to First Nations arts experiences and grow opportunities for First Nations artists.

Conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the research provides vital insights that can inform the recovery and future sustainability of the First Nations arts ecology.

Learn more 

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