Create NSW debuts with funding focus

Ambitious funding program shows Create NSW’s commitment to keeping up its services to both arts and screen.
Create NSW debuts with funding focus

We Built This City/ Redfern School of Displacement (2016), Keg de Souza, Instillation view at Vine Street, Redfern, for the 20th Biennale of Sydney; Photo: Ben Symons

The arts and film sectors have been somewhat anxious about the merger of Arts NSW and Screen NSW, which was first flagged by the State Government last October.

The new agency, Create NSW has taken a low profile over recent months, a decision its CEO, Michael Brealey said was because it is still early days for Create NSW: ‘We are still hiring people, and working on resourcing the organisation properly’, adding that he was very focused on maintaining consistency and certainty to stakeholders.

‘Undoubtedly, where there is change there’s bound to be some nervousness, so it is key for us to maintain clarity around our funding programs, and for the sector to remain sure of its ability to access support.’

That rhetoric was matched with action this week with the agency’s debut announcement of the Arts and Cultural Development Program (ACDP), a document that lays out funding options available to artists and cultural organisations in a user-friendly and concise manner.

‘We are interested in ensuring that we provide bedrock funding for the sector so that organisations have the confidence to plan and build programs and activities for the year,’ said Brealey.

The ACDP introduces a suite of Quick Response Artist Support, a portfolio of diverse Fellowships, and ensures diversity of funding opportunities that address priority areas, particularly Aboriginal arts and culture and disability funding, and people living and/or working in Western Sydney and regional NSW.  

Representatives from Create NSW will hit the road to introduce the ACDP with a Regional Roadshow throughout April and May.

To download a copy of the guidelines and for Regional Roadshow details, visit

Don't worry, 2016 and Be Happy, 2016, Abdul Abdullah. Installation view as part of Jogja Calling, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist and Fehily Contemporary. Made with the assistance of DGTMB Art Embroidery. Photo: Document Photography

Funding for ambitious arts and culture

With any company merger, the fear is that funding resources are streamlined, aka axed.  

Sophia Zachariou, Director, Sector Investment at Create NSW confirmed: ‘Both funding streams are still there and we are committed to growing and strengthening the arts and screen sectors in NSW.’

Create NSW is not rolling its funding programs out together. ‘There will still be a screen stream and a film stream, and the ACDP Program that opened this week, applies entirely to the arts sector. The only difference has been to make a process that is cleaner and shorter,’ explained Brealey.

Zachariou said: ‘It is a really difficult thing for artists and arts practitioners to decide to go for funding, and then they have to read these dense guidelines. It’s just cleaner thinking from grass roots to big vision.’

‘So many artists work in the digital space and a lot of filmmakers are working with artists. There are so many opportunities to leverage funding and create enhancement and a cross-pollination of ideas by combining arts and screen. It is a world trend – and NSW is at the forefront of that rethinking,’ she added. 

Brealey added: ‘The merger has allowed us to pursue some new agendas around diversity. This has been a big drive out of the screen side of Create, and I would like to see where the gaps are on the arts side and encourage the sector to work with us to meet them.’

He said he was confident there would be less delay in the funding decision process and that money going to successful recipients would also be quicker, simply through streamlining.

Freya Hooper, 2015 YRAS recipient; supplied courtesy the artist

Roadshow to success

‘Part of our approach with the new agency, Create NSW, is that we want to reach out and engage with the sector in a more proactive way. We are not just about processing applications. We will be doing a whole lot of roadshows because we want to get out there and have conversations – we want to be engaged,’ said Zachariou.

She added that Create NSW is looking for new initiatives to bolster the sector.

Brealey said that a key question at the heart of the organisation’s recalibration was how could it better connect across the state and hone those creative assets.

‘Out of the merger we have been able to resource an engagement and comms team which means we can better tell the story of NSW arts, screen and culture as well as better engaging the creative community when funding opportunities arise.'

‘We have a whole package of Fellowships that go beyond just individual artistic areas. I think that is something that we haven’t really promoted properly in the past. It is a significant investment in artistic careers, and we want to build that base of experienced, well-rounded professionals – not just as individuals - but also for arts and cultural activity across the state.’

‘By seeking out and supporting these qualities we will foster an ambitious, contemporary, and progressive sector that is inspired locally, but has national and international appeal,’ said Brealey.

The ACDP supports visual arts, museums, literature, dance, music, regional touring, capital works and professional development for artists across the state.  Applications will run progressively until February 2018.

Zachariou’s advice? ‘Do yourself a favour and get online.’

To download a copy of the guidelines and for Regional Roadshow details, visit

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Gina Fairley

Wednesday 12 April, 2017

About the author

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW.

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