Creative and history grant application tips

Grants are becoming more and more competitive. Here are some tips and points to ensure your grant application has the best chance to succeed.

Take your time

Plan and start your application early and make sure you leave enough time to complete and submit your application.

Answer every question.

Ask for support letters early.

Provide all necessary supporting documentation if required. For example:

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • proof of Public and Products Liability
  • audited financial statements
  • support letter from Auspice organisation.

Consider the benefit 

If you are funded, what is the outcome?

How will the project benefit Brisbane residents? Will it also build the capacity and skills of you and the members of your organisation?

Who is your audience and how will you promote your idea to this audience? 

Stand out

Remember the assessment panel will read hundreds of applications. What will make your project memorable?

How does your project stand out from the crowd?

What makes your project exciting, innovative or fresh?

Do your research

Ensure your project meets the aims and objectives of the funding program's.

Read the guidelines to make sure you are eligible.

Clearly show how your project meets the selection criteria.

Look at projects that have been previously funded. Is your project a good fit?

Ensure your research is accurate.

Seek professional advice.

Be clear, concise and compelling

Grants are very competitive. Your application is a sales pitch to convince the reader why it should be funded.

Describe your idea or project and how you will make it come to life.

Does your grant application show its purpose and the benefit to our community?

Use plain language and make it easy to understand who you are, what you need funding for and why the project is important. Avoid using jargon and acronyms. For example:

  • Avoid saying:
    “Movement explores the complex physical and emotional language humans have developed to interact in today's society. Using a transdisciplinary collaboration of contemporary dance and physical soundwaves this work uses movement and multiple auditory configurations to mimic body language. This first stage creative development will be fully documented and will culminate in a WIP showing”.
  • Instead say:
    “I/we are seeking funding for the development of a new dance/music work called Movement. This work uses a unique combination of vibration and movement to explore how people communicate their ideas in today's society. The outcome of the project will include a work-in-progress presentation for a test audience. We will also document the project through images and video.

Demonstrate support

Know what is going on in your community and industry

How can you demonstrate the need for the project in your community or industry?

Do you have evidence of the demand or need for this project?

Has somebody else already done a similar project that compliments what you are proposing? Do they have the research you need to support your project?

Are there other people or groups who might want to work with you or provide support?

Strengthen your application by demonstrating collaborations and partnerships with your networks. This includes interest/need and other sources of income (even 'in-kind') this can strengthen your application.

Substantiate your claims

Don't make claims you can't substantiate.

Include support material that is relevant to the project and will help us better understand your project objectives. For example:

  • letters of support from collaborators or community leaders
  • letters of interest from publishers or sales outlets
  • CV's
  • quotes
  • promotion plan and distribution plans.

Consider resources

If your group doesn't have the right professional skills for the project, engage a professional. The grant funding can assist to pay their costs.


  • Clearly show how you will use the grant funds by itemising each expense and the portion of grant funds that will be used.
  • Check out the guidelines to make sure all items listed are eligible.
  • Be realistic with the budget and obtain more than one quote to show the budget estimate is accurate.

Balancing your budget

Double check your figures and make sure your budget balances. Your total project income must equal your total project expense. That means you are not making a profit or a loss for this project.

In-kind support is both an income and expenses and must be added to both columns. For example if you are being offered free venue hire, you would add the actual venue hire as an expense. The in-kind support for the venue hire is considered an income. This means that the expense and the income off-set each other.

Ensure you are familiar with the guidelines as some items are not eligible for 100% of funding.

Completing your budget table

You must complete a budget table to support your application. See the budget tups and example for help.

Indicate how much of the grant is funding each item within the 'funded by this grant' column.

Applying for multiple grants?

Make sure your application shows if other grants funding is confirmed or the date when you expect to hear about your application.


Expected income may include:

  • Brisbane City Council - your grant funding
  • other grants - Queensland or Australian Government, foundations and/or Australia Council for the Arts
  • earned income - product sales, ticket sales, workshop fees and/or partner contribution
  • your own contribution - cash, equipment, materials and/or in-kind support (e.g. historian fees, staff and volunteers time)
  • sponsorships, fundraising and donations - crowd funding, organisational support, other cash and in-kind support.


Expected expenses may include:

  • salary, fees and allowances - participating project staff, professional personnel (e.g. historians, curators, exhibition designers, producers, directors etc.) and/or researcher fees
  • production and development costs - hire fees, venue/space fees, workshops, consumables, equipment and/or materials
  • administration costs - auspice fees, audit/tax/accountant fees, insurance/s, travel, permits and/or office consumables
  • promotion, documentation and marketing costs - design, printing, distribution, photographer, publicity, website and/or advertising fees.

In-kind contribution or in-kind support

This is the dollar value of non-cash contributions to a project e.g. office space, staff time or voluntary labour that would otherwise have needed to be paid for. It includes volunteer labour, administrative support, rent-free accommodation or donations of materials or equipment. These contributions should be given a dollar value and must be included in the proposed budget.

To ensure your budget table balances the in-kind income line item must match the in-kind expense line item. 

Please note that for assessment:

  • all budget figures provided must be GST exclusive i.e deduct GST from quotes and invoices
  • if your organisation is GST registered 10% GST will be added to your grant as an itemised GST gross-up.

Budget table

An example budget table for the Creative Sparks Grant Program is below:

Income budget table

Example income budget table including expected income, amount and if the funding is confirmed.
Expected income (source of funding) Amount (ex GST) Confirmed
Brisbane City Council $10,000 No
Queensland Government $4,000 No
Australian Government $16,025 Yes
Crowd funding $2,025 Yes
Sponsorship/donation $1,000 Yes
Own contribution $1,665 Yes
In kind venue hire $2,400 Yes
Ticket sales $4,500 No

Total income amount = $41,615

Expenses budget table

Example expenses budget table including expected expenses, amount and how much is funded by the grant.
Expected expenses (description of work) Amount (ex GST) Funded by this grant
Artist fees $10,000 $5,000
Visual design $10,000 $3,000
Design, tech and front of house $2,000 $2,000
Production costs $6,875 -
Administration costs $550 -
Promotion fees/marketing $5,500 -
In-kind venue hire $2,400 -
Permits and insurance $1,665 -
Travel/accommodation $2,625 -

Total expenses = $41,615 (must equal your total income)

Total grant amount sought = $10,000


Ask someone not connected with your project to proofread your application. If they can't understand it, it is likely the assessment panel won't either. 

Be aware of the notification date of the grant when you find out if you are successful or not. Make sure your project starts after this date.

More information

You can contact Council and ask to speak with a Creative and History Grant Program Officer or send an email.

Having technical difficulty submitting your application?

Contact Council and speak with a Grants Administration Officer.

Visit the Arts Queensland, Arts Acumen website for more information on grant writing, budget preparation and grant examples.

Last updated: 10 May 2019

Brisbane City Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and their unique relationship with their ancestral country. We pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of Brisbane, and recognise their strength and wisdom.