The list of recipients of the 2015 Arts ACT Project Funding round is a fascinating glimpse at the state of the Canberra arts scene. With a pool of $720,757 up for grabs, there are 49 beneficiaries this year, up from 42 last year, with art forms ranging from music, dance and theatre to literature and visual art.
The committee overseeing the funding was chaired by former ANU School of Art head David Williams, with the other members spread across a range of art forms: Fiete Geier (music); Bernie Slater (visual art); Jen Webb (poetry/literature); Karen Vickery (theatre); and Francis Owusu (dance).
At the modest end of the scale, with a grant of $1500, artist Maria McIntosh will put the money towards the costs of an exhibition of mosaic works, while Tom Davis received the most generous boost, with $39,883 to assist with the costs of mounting a production of a new play, The Chain Bridge.
Among the other recipients were A Chorus of Women, who will receive $24,990 to assist with the costs of performances of a community oratorio, A Passion for Peace, and Nicholas McConaghy, who will get $3455 to assist with the costs of developing a portfolio of electro-acoustic compositions.
Arts Minister Joy Burch says there is very strong interest from the ACT arts community and the range of art forms given funding reflected the diversity of local artistic practice.
"This project funding round is designed to respond to the artists' needs at the moment," she says.
In some cases, she says, it helped new artists coming through to establish themselves while in others it supported established artists in getting to the next level in their practice.
One example of the latter was the comic musical duo Sparrow-Folk (Juliet Moody and Catherine Crowley). They received $18,752 to assist with the costs of touring their show Subirdia to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015.
Crowley says the very particular sum was "exactly what we asked for" and would help cover costs of travel, venue hire and getting a Scottish producer on board.
"It was lucky for me," she says. "I won funding from that last year for a theatre project, The Home Front, which was really nice."
Crowley was grateful to receive funding again for a work in a different genre. Subirdia is a show about the Canberra suburbs and the project funding would enable Sparrow-Folk to take their work to a new audience and perform it in a competitive - but promising - international environment. They have already received overseas attention for performances on YouTube.
Another recipient was writer Zsuszsi Suboslay, whose $17,500 grant will assist with the costs of developing a theatre project, Anthems and Angels. She had applied "four or five previous times" before succeeding.
Suboslay says the work "deals with the experience of refugees, people in transition from one situation to another".
It originated as a dance music piece as Suboslay was not sure words would be adequate for the emotions and situations being dealt with but eventually, she says, "I thought, 'I'm a writer - why am I not using words?'" and decided to retool the work. It has been part of the Street Theatre's Hive development program for new theatre works.
Having a script, she says, proved useful in securing a grant.
"People can imagine it from the words."
The money will enable her to work on the floor with two actors in developing the work and she hopes to have it ready for full performance in 2016.
Another writer, Irma Gold, received $1965 to assist with the costs of writing two picture books for children.
"I have previously received two grants, both to develop work during residencies at the incomparable Varuna Writers Centre," she says.
"The first resulted in my debut collection of short fiction, Two Steps Forward, which was selected from over 450 submissions to be published by Affirm Press as part of its Long Story Shorts series. The second was to work on my debut novel during its early stages, which after about seven years is now reaching completion. Both those grants were invaluable."
This grant will allow her to travel to undertake research for her picture-book project, she says.
"Without the grant I wouldn't have been able to afford to fund this research trip myself. The project represents a departure from my previous work and I'm just so excited about the possibilities. Picture books are a powerful space in which to engage children and I'm grateful that the ACT government recognised the work's potential.
"We're fortunate in the ACT to have a government that has consistently provided a strong funding program to support the arts. This is so important with writing projects that can take years to come to fruition. The grants I've received have enabled me to develop my practice in a ways that otherwise simply wouldn't have been possible.
2015 Arts ACT Project Funding recipients:
A Chorus of Women To assist with costs of performances of a community oratorio A Passion for Peace. $24,990 Music
Art Song Canberra Inc. To assist with costs of presenting art song concerts, classes and events. $6,713 Music
ArtSpace To assist with costs of a creative development project with artists living with disability. $15,600 Visual Arts
Aspen Island Theatre Company To assist with costs of the creative development of a new theatre work, Kill Climate Deniers. $18,793 Theatre
Australian Book Review Inc. To assist with costs of ACT writers creating new work for publication in a literary magazine. $12,000 Literature
James Batchelor To assist with costs of the development and presentation of a new dance work. $22,000 Dance
Big hART To assist with costs of the creative development of a new theatre production. $31,200 Theatre
Camilla BlundenTo assist with costs of the production and performance of a theatre work, All This Living! $19,569 Theatre
Canberra Choral Society Inc. To assist with costs of a concert and recording of Black Ribbon by Australian composers Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith. $17,032 Music
Canberra City Band Inc. To assist with costs of the establishment of a junior concert band. $18,865 Music
Canberra Dance Development Centre To assist with costs of creating and presenting a new dance work. $31,605 Dance
Claudia Chaseling To assist with costs of an overseas solo exhibition and the publication and documentation of work. $17,580 Visual Arts
Nicholas Craft To assist with costs of producing a solo album of new contemporary music. $11,549 Music
Tom Davis To assist with costs of mounting a production of a new play The Chain Bridge. $39,883 Theatre
Kirsten Farrell To assist with costs of developing Infinity Lesson, a new body of experimental performance art. $6210 Visual Arts
Nigel Featherstone To assist with costs of writing the first draft of a novel. $12,000 Literature
Andrew GalanTo assist with costs of developing a manuscript of poems for national and international publication. $6842 Literature
Irma Gold To assist with costs of writing two picture books for children. $1965 Literature
Andrew HeaneyTo assist with costs of the composition and production of a sound score for a film. $1670 Music
Ellis Hutch To assist with costs of undertaking a residency in Finland and creating a new body of work. $12,719 Visual Arts
Alison JacksonTo assist with costs in the development, documentation and production of new work for a solo exhibition at Craft ACT. $10,141 Visual Arts
Subhash JairethTo assist with costs of editing, printing and promoting a new book. $4000 Literature
Waratah Lahy To assist with costs of creating work that explores the shift from small scale to large scale painting. $16,390 Visual Arts
Lingua Franca Dance Theatre To assist with costs of the creative development and production of new site-specific dance theatre and multimedia work. $15,412 Dance
Hardy Lohse To assist with costs of travel to the USA for research, artistic development and mentoring opportunities. $7254 Visual Arts
Ben Marston To assist with costs of artistic development with Norwegian sample artist Jan Bang. $11,500 Music
Nicholas McConaghy To assist with costs of developing a portfolio of electro-acoustic compositions. $3455 Music
Maria McIntosh To assist with costs of an exhibition of mosaic works. $1500 Visual Arts
Marianne Mettes To assist with costs of a puppet building, video and theatre program at the Belconnen Arts Centre. $9253 Visual Arts
Chenoeh Miller, Chenoeh To assist with costs of rehearsing and presenting a new live artwork, Rhizome, at New Acton. $25,900 Theatre
Mirramu Dance Company To assist with costs of presenting a program celebrating 50 years of contemporary dance in Australia. $35,692 Dance
Molonglo Group Cultural Fund To assist with costs of presenting an arts festival, Art, Not Apart. $25,638 Visual Arts
Al MunroTo assist with costs of an artist's residency and exhibition in Thailand. $6,055 Visual Arts
Nican To assist with costs of the REBUS ensemble attending the Beyond Our Boundaries disability arts festival in Hobart. $5,300 Theatre
Geoff PageTo assist with costs of producing an anthology of ACT and region poetry. $8100 Literature
Cathy PetoczTo assist with costs of a creative development for a theatrical production. $12,200 Theatre
Hannah Quinlivan To assist with costs of running a mentorship scheme for newly graduated Canberra-based visual artists. $19,883 Visual Arts
Rip Publishing To assist with costs of producing a youth-based experimental multimedia publication. $4103 Literature
Charles SageTo assist with costs of a community multimedia project for exhibition at Nishi Gallery. $13,919 Visual Arts
Erica Seccombe To assist with costs of a residency at the Natural History Museum, London. $21,659 Visual Arts
Heidi Silberman To assist with costs of touring a theatrical production The Home Front to the Adelaide Fringe Festival. $14,715 Theatre
Samantha Small To assist with costs of producing large-scale installation work for exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery. $8490 Visual Arts
Zsuzsi Soboslay To assist with costs of developing a theatre project, Anthems and Angels. $17,500 Theatre
Sparrow-Folk To assist with costs of touring the show Subirdia to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. $18,752 Music
Rosanna StevensTo assist with costs of researching and writing a book of non-fiction. $10,526 Literature
The Griffyn Ensemble To assist with costs of creating a multimedia piece, Antipodes Rugby League. $16,830 Music
Benita Tunks To assist with costs to curate and produce an exhibition and associated public programs. $11,405 Visual Arts
US MOB Writing To assist with costs of supporting an ACT delegation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers to attend the 2015 First Nations Australia Writers Workshop. $21,000 Literature
Wallflower To assist with costs of recording and pressing an original indie pop EP. $14,400 Music