The Australia Council for the Arts has announced the first round of grant recipients for 2019, for project and career development. The $5.8 million cash pool will support 192 projects – 114 individuals, 30 groups and 48 organisations from a pool of 1347 applications. In addition to the projects that received funding, a further 203 projects totalling up to $6.9 million were assessed by peers as being of high merit and worthy of support. “We continue to receive a high volume of high-quality applications across all areas of arts practice,” said Frank Panucci, the Australia Council’s Executive Director of Grants and Engagement.

Aura Go. Photo © Keith Saunders

The latest round sees a continued trend of strong First Nations-led projects funded through all areas of arts practice while female-identified artists also continue to fare well receiving 59 percent of funding to individual artists in this round, the Australia Council said.

Major grants went to organisations – the Peggy Glanville Hicks Trust was awarded $100,000 to support the successful Prelude artist residency program in 2020, and Melbourne Electronic Sound Studios received $75,000 towards its 2019 Program that includes creative development, workshops, concerts, public access and residencies. While in the Concerts and Festivals category, Central Australian Singing received $95,075 towards the 2019 Desert Song Festival; Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music received $32,881 towards the 2019 festival; Robbie Avenaim with Jim Denley and Carolyn Connors received $20,000 for a second season of Safe in Sound 36 long-form concerts for and with children and young adults with severe disabilities in Sydney and Melbourne and producer Kiriaki Koubaroulis received $12,000 for a 2019 concert series at Bankstown Arts Centre focussed on Western Sydney musicians.

Among the activities funded, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation ($29,804) will take five female First Nations designers from West Arnhem Land to present their work in Paris during Fashion Week, and UNSW Art & Design who run The Big Anxiety Festival ($63,580) will be tackling stigma surrounding mental health with a new interactive exhibition project. Grants recipients for international projects include the Orava Quartet ($10,141) for their Canada tour, and oud player Jo Tawardos ($20,200) who will spend a sustained period of time in Egypt working with local musicians.

New work projects include Monash Art Ensemble’s ($13,788) release of an album featuring new works by Kate Neal, Andrew Ford, Sandy Evans, Paul Grabowsky, Cat Hope, Marc Hannaford, Robert Burke and Paul Williamson. New Zealand born Jazz bassist, Jonathan Zwartz ($18,180) will record an album with pianist Mike Nock, saxophonist Julien Wilson, and drummer Hamish Stuart. Pianist Aura Go ($15,000) will develop an immersive 60-minute work of music and movement for two pianos and moving audience called One Space One, while flautist Lina Andonovska received $10,905 towards her debut recording project. Bleach Festival ($86,687) will commission Sally Blackwood, Lawrence English and Vanessa Tomlinson to create a new sound art opera to premiere in 2020.

The full list of grant recipients is available on the Australian Council website