2020 Cherish Fund

The Australia Council is announcing details of its investment opportunities for individuals and organisations

Although the arts and cultural industries, along with all Australians and communities around the world, have experienced incomparable disruption from the impacts of COVID-19, we have never lost sight of the enormous public value of the arts for all Australians. 

It is important that we resume our programs and strive to enable creativity to continue to connect us in recovery and in the future; it will be essential for Australia’s recovery. Our creative sector will be indispensable in helping to rebuild communities and our economy to assist navigating Australia’s path out of the crisis. We are working at speed to re-open as many suspended programs as possible to contribute to this recovery and roll out new responsive initiatives.


Applications are now closed


  • Individuals, groups and organisations can apply to the Cherish Fund.
  • Minimum of $25,000.

Notifications: You will be notified of the outcome and, if successful, you will receive funding within six weeks of submitting your application. 

About Cherish

The Cherish 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 Fund has been informed by the First Nations Roundtables and the sector discussions and consultations in which the emergent themes have focused on the priorities and needs analysis through the COVID-19 phases of disruption, recovery, rebuild, reimagine and reignite.

Cherish grants are available to individuals, groups and organisations to:

  • protect senior custodians and elders as they are the source of cultural knowledge for cultural and artistic expressions through song, dance, story, images and narrative.
  • explore and interrogate artistic and creative methodologies and processes to construct innovative models of creating artistic works.
  • support the professional skill development of arts workers to increase capacity and capability in navigating a digital world.

The Cherish Fund has three (3) grant streams, they are:

  • Living Libraries: supporting our cultural knowledge
  • Creative Practice: supporting artistic creative expression
  • Creative Workforce: supporting our artworkers in a digital world

Applications should be considerate of COVID-19 gathering restrictions put in place by state and federal governments.

Your activity should last no longer than two years from the proposed start date.

Read our FAQ's


Who can apply

  • First Nations individuals, groups and organisations can apply to the Cherish Fund and each of the grant streams. 
  • Individuals can apply for themselves or on behalf of a group. You must be a practising artist or arts worker, and an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident.
  • Australian organisations that create artistic work or provide a service to the arts sector can apply.

Who cannot apply

You cannot apply for a Cherish if:

  • you are not a First Nations artist, group or organisation
  • you received a grant from the Australia Council in the past and that grant has not been satisfactorily acquitted
  • you owe money to the Australia Council
  • you currently receive Visual Arts and Craft Strategy funding from the Australia Council
  • you are a National Performing Arts Partnership organisation
  • you are an organisation based outside Australia.

What you can apply for

  • Documenting Elder Stories- training fees, mentoring and mentor fees, equipment, recording fees.
  • Skills and career development – remote professional mentoring and mentor fees; digital residencies; coordinator and collaborator fees; course fees and online learning.
  • Creative practice development – adapting existing practice and operations; exploring alternative models and platforms for creation, collaboration, mobility or distribution; advisor fees; coordinator and collaborator fees; other expenses to research and develop new markets and income streams. 
  • Developing collaborations and connections – knowledge exchange; other expenses to explore and develop collaborative networks, communities of practice and platforms for community cohesion; advisor fees; coordinator and collaborator fees.
  • Digital capability – expenses to strengthen digital infrastructure; accessing the appropriate software and advice; making content accessible to diverse and underrepresented audiences, artists and arts practitioners; advisor fees; subscriptions; equipment and infrastructure.
  • Distribution programs- providing micro-grants and project investment to your sector or membership based on their immediate needs and priorities.

What you cannot apply for

  • Projects or activities that do not involve or benefit practising artists, arts workers or the arts sector.
  • Projects or activities that have already taken place.

Assessment process

The First Nations Arts Strategy panel will review applications against the assessment criteria.

Assessment criteria

We will assess applications against the following criteria:

1. The cultural integrity of the project

  • Adherence to relevant cultural protocols
  • Evidence of considered consultation and engagement with participants, audiences and communities

2. The skills and strengths of communities and individuals involved in the activity

  • Artistic merit of the project 
  • Artistic and Cultural experience of senior people
  • Quality of work previously produced

3. Support of younger people throughout the project

  • Clear indication of how young people will be involved
  • Models of apprenticeship, mentoring or guided instructions

4. The benefits and engagement of the activity for the individuals, community and the artform/s involved

  • Clear need for this activity at this time
  • Relevance and timeliness of activities to the community
  • Capacity to strengthen skills and ability of artists/communities 

5. The viability of your activity

  • Partnerships and/or long-term sustainability
  • Effective use of resources with realistic and achievable planning
  • Level of confirmation of proposed activities and partners
  • Clear outline of income, expenses and in-kind contributions
  • Costed project budget activities 

Support material

1. Evidence of your practice

Provide recent examples of your artistic work or services that are relevant to the activity you are seeking funding for. This could include, but is not limited to:

  • A link to examples of your work that may include video, audio, images or written material.
  • A link to examples of your proposed activity that may include video, audio, images or written material.
  • A link to your website.

2. Letters of support

Individuals, groups or organisations can write letters of support for your activity if appropriate. These letters should explain:

  • How the activity will benefit the intended beneficiaries.
  • How appropriate cultural protocols have been observed and permissions obtained.

You can include up to three letters of support, with each letter no longer than one A4 page. Where possible, combine your letters into a single document or link. 

Our preferred way of receiving support material is via URLs (web links). You can submit up to three URLs, which may include your website, or links to video, audio, images, scanned documents and written material. 

If you cannot provide URLs, you can attach up to two documents to your application in either PDF or Word formats.

We strongly recommend you link to existing, accessible examples of your work – there is no need to create new content for this application.

We do not accept support material submitted via post.

If you have difficulty submitting material online, or need advice on what type of support material to submit, please contact us.

Application form

The application asks you for:

  1. A brief description of your artistic practice or services 
  2. An outline of the proposed project or activity
  3. The artists and/or partner organisations involved in your activity
  4. A simple budget that shows how you will spend the funding
  5. An outline describing the impact your project or activity will have on the intended beneficiaries in the short and long term 
  6. Support material.

We accept applications in a range of accessible formats, for example by video, in Auslan or other languages. 

A print friendly MS Word file can be accessed here. 

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the application form, please contact Michelle Wong, Projects Officer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts.

Phone: 02 92159171 (direct) or toll free number 1800 226 912

Email: FirstNationsArts@australiacouncil.gov.au

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