The latest round of grants from the Australia Council for the Arts has been announced, with new songs by Brenda Gifford, a performance inspired by the life of experimental pianist Margaret Leng Tan, and six new Australian operas among the projects funded.

Dragon Ladies Don't WeepChamber Made Opera’s Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep. Image © Tamara Saulwick

A total pool of $6.2 million will support 201 project and development grants for individuals, groups and small to medium arts organisations. Among the recipients are Sydney Chamber Opera, which receives $50,055 for the presentation of six new Australian operas at Carriageworks in 2020, the Four Winds Festival, receiving $21,612 to commission two songs for young people by composer Brenda Gifford, Bundanon Trust, receiving $54,412 for Sonic Sites, a project led by percussionist Claire Edwardes, while Melbourne’s Chamber Made Opera receives $32,500 for the final development and presentation of Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep, about the life and career of experimental pianist Margaret Leng Tan, created with Tan, composer and pianist Erik Griswold, director Tamara Saulwick and dramaturge Kok Heng Leun, in a co-production with CultureLink Singapore.

Receiving funding to study overseas are violinist Eleanor Hill, euphonium player James Blackwood and conductor Leonard Weiss, as well as Kaiya Mitchell – who will undertake courses and internships in instrument repair – and tenor Michael Petruccelli, who will participate in Opera Frankfurt’s Opera Studio program. Clarinettist and performance maker Aviva Endean will receive funding to work on a strategic creative development plan to gain skills and networks for the next phase of her career.

Veronique Serret, Matthias Schack-Arnott, Dobromila Jaskot, Jane Sheldon, Thomas Meadowcroft, Tammy Brennan, Andrew Batt-Rawden, Christopher Cody, Hilary Kleinig, Julia Reidy, James Rushford and Ben Opie are among those who will receive funding for the composition, development or presentation of new works, while recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey will receive $42,000 to present her Pleasure Garden – a ‘listening garden’ in which music and environmental sounds combine to create a gentle, contemplative atmosphere – in London, Coutances in France, and Tampere in Finland. Guitarist Andrew Blanch will also receive funding for his project The Great Acceleration, featuring new work by Jessica Wells, Felicity Wilcox and Robert Davidson to be performed by Ensemble Offspring and Topology.

Kieran Welch will receive funding for his Dots+Loops Nonstop Festival, while Miranda Hill will receive funding for the ninth annual Homophonic! festival at La Mama featuring LGBTIQ+ composers, as well as Rohan Drape for the INLAND Concert Series 2019-2020 Season. The round also includes the Australia Council Fellowships, with composer Cathy Milliken taking out one of the Fellowships in Music.

Across the whole round, Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette highlighted the strong result for First Nations artists, including Brenda Gifford, First Nations curator Freja Carmichael – who was awarded funding for her latest project building on her success as the inaugural recipient of the emerging First Nations curator award – and Melbourne-based hip hop, soul and R&B artist Mojo Juju, who will take part in a European tour with the Hilltop Hoods.

“This strong result for First Nations artists is particularly pleasing and reflects Council’s long term commitment to First Nations arts and culture. Now more than ever, Australians are engaging with First Nations arts for their beauty, strength and power, and to understand who we are as a nation,” Collette said. “Equally pleasing is that almost a third of the successful applicants nominated audience engagement, or access and participation, as primary outcomes of their project. We want as many Australians as possible to be captivated by arts experiences.”

The full list of awarded grants