Creative Sparks Grants Program Guidelines

The Creative Sparks Grants Program is an initiative of Brisbane City Council in partnership with the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland to support local arts and culture in Brisbane.

Learn about the Program:


These Creative Sparks Grant Program Guidelines (the guidelines) establish the rules which govern the administration of the Creative Sparks Grants Program (the program) including the application, eligibility and selection process to be followed and the assessment criteria that will be used to select grantees.

These guidelines must be read in conjunction with Council’s Creative Brisbane Creative Economy strategy and A City for Everyone: Inclusive Brisbane Plan 2019-2029.

About the program

The Program is a partnership between Brisbane City Council (Council) and the Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland, to foster opportunities for a creative and prosperous Brisbane.


The program aims to:

  • assist artists, arts workers, cultural workers, creative producers and Brisbane not-for-profit community arts, historical and cultural organisations to test, develop, and realise ideas for local products, markets, partnerships, and new work to build the city’s creative capacity and enable creative enterprises to grow and prosper
  • support a range of diverse and accessible arts experiences to grow arts audiences and participation
  • foster opportunities for the creation and promotion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic endeavours
  • empower the Brisbane creative industry in their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and to develop resilience to confidently regenerate by creating employment opportunities for local artists and arts workers.

Intended outcome

The purpose of the program is to create jobs, aid economic growth, attract tourism and improve social cohesion by supporting the creative and cultural sector in Brisbane. Through strategic investments, the program aims to build capacity and resilience of the sector to contribute to the liveability and vibrancy of Brisbane.

The program utilises funds to invest in creative outcomes that align with the Creative Brisbane Creative Economy strategy to cultivate Brisbane’s identity as a global city for creativity.

The program assists artists and not-for-profit community arts and cultural organisations to create and present work. Applications are open to artists from all backgrounds and career stages working across all artforms and practices to test, develop and realise ideas that result in a public outcome.

Council strongly encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, artists who identify as having a disability, identify as being culturally and linguistically diverse, who are LGBTIQA+, and/or who are under 25 to apply.

Grant amount and key dates

Grants of up to $10,000 per application for the creation and presentation of projects that are shared with the public (either online or at a venue/location within the Brisbane local government area (Brisbane LGA).

Applications for this program are closed. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by mid-April 2024. 

Eligibility and grant requirements

Number of applications

Council will only accept one application per individual or organisation. This includes applications which fundamentally have the same proposed activity or project regardless of any variations in the named applicant/s.

An applicant must not apply for a grant under this program if the applicant has also applied for a grant under the Lord Mayor’s Creative Fellowship program (regardless of whether or not the applicant is successful).

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must:

  • be:
    • artists, arts workers, cultural workers or creative producers (individuals)or
    • not-for-profit community arts, historical and cultural organisations (organisations) and
  • have a demonstrated history of professional arts or creative practice with a track record of public outcomes for their creative practice.

Applicants applying as an individual must:

  • be 17 years of age or over at the time of submitting an application,
  • if under 18 years of age, have their application co‑signed by their legal guardian, confirming they will take responsibility for managing any funding that may be offered to the applicant,
  • be a resident of the Brisbane local government area (Brisbane LGA); and
  • be a permanent resident or Australian citizen, and
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN) or be auspiced by an incorporated Auspice Organisation.

Applicants applying as an organisation must:

  • employ Brisbane independent artists and arts workers to deliver new projects,
  • have offices located within the Brisbane LGA,
  • provide goods and services to residents within the Brisbane LGA, and
  • have an ABN or be auspiced by an incorporated Auspice Organisation.

An incorporated Auspice organisations can only support a maximum of two applications per grant round. The incorporated Auspice Organisation must have an office in and provide goods or services to the residents of the Brisbane LGA.

What activities or projects are eligible to apply?

Council will accept applications for proposed activities or projects that:

  • will be presented to the public between 16 April 2024 and 18 February 2025
  • can demonstrate the artistic, cultural, social and/or economic impacts that align with the objectives and intended outcomes of the program
  • occur within the Brisbane LGA or be able to demonstrate the benefit to residents of Brisbane.

General eligibility requirements

All applicants must:

  • not have any outstanding reporting or acquittals with Council or Arts Queensland
  • hold appropriate insurance (s) (including Workers Compensation, Public Liability, Volunteers Insurance and others) to cover artists and their work
  • ensure that their project is accessible to people with disability, such as people with impaired hearing, vision or mobility, and people with cognitive impairment
  • demonstrate financial and in-kind support from their own or other sources for the proposed activity or project.

The program will not support 100 per cent of the proposed activity or project costs. Sources may include cash or in-kind support; other government funding; earned income (e.g., ticket and product sales); or income from fundraising, sponsors, or philanthropic entities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural content and communities

Any proposed activity or project reflecting or working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures must be endorsed by the relevant authority from that community. Applicants must show how they will acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural knowledge and intellectual property.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants must provide appropriate letters of support from the community who will benefit from the proposed activities or project if the proposed activity or project will be delivered outside the applicant’s community.

For proposed activities or projects that contain cultural material or activity where the applicant is not an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, the applicant must demonstrate that the applicant is working in partnership with the benefited community and provide appropriate letters of support with the application.

Applications which fail to provide appropriate letters of support will be deemed ineligible.

Further details on the protocols and appropriate acknowledgements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures, are available from the Australia Council for the Arts Protocols for working with Indigenous Artists.

Ineligible applications

The program will not fund proposed activities or projects that are:

  • prizes, award ceremonies or competitions
  • fundraising ventures, including charitable events
  • murals and school arts activities, including eisteddfods
  • are conducted by a political organisation or have a political purpose
  • for any capital expenditure or building works, including minor repairs, maintenance, relocation or refurbishment activities and improvements
  • for the purchase of any office furniture or equipment
  • for the purchase of computer hardware and/or software for general administration, promotional or communication purposes,
  • for the development, making or installation of permanent public artwork
  • for the purposes of debt repayment
  • for activities associated with a course of study or form a part of any assessment at an educational or training institution, including a degree, certificate, or PhD course
  • for activities that are for individual professional development or mentorship
  • entertainment for events without a specific developmental outcome for artists
  • for a proposed activity or project which:
    • duplicates existing services provided in the Brisbane LGA
    • cannot be completed within provided timeframe
    • is an organisation’s core business
  • for projects that are seeking the majority of funding for publishing and/or printing
  • costs for activities that have or are proposed to commence before 16 April 2024.

Further, the program will not fund, and grant funds must not be used for:

  • costs associated with food and alcohol for proposed activities or projects
  • general operating / recurring costs including core business activities
    i.e., staffing, marketing, business as usual / existing programming, business start-up costs, administrative and other organisational costs not directly associated with the project
  • contingency costs
  • projects that do not pay recommended industry rates for artists, arts workers and creative producers (in-kind rates must be calculated at industry standard)
  • costs associated with travel of any kind, living expenses (per diems), accommodation, or touring
  • general public liability or insurance costs for the applicant or proposed activity or project
  • staff wages for permanent staff or for project staff positions that are planned to continue after the end of the proposed activity or project.

Applications will be deemed ineligible if:

  • the submission is incomplete
  • the proposed activity or project cannot be completed within 10 months from the Notification Date
  • submitted after the closing date and time
  • the applicant is:
    • a state or federal government department (including schools) or agencies, foundations or grant making bodies or projects which fall under the responsibility of another tier of government
    • an employee of Council or Arts Queensland
    • a for profit organisation or a business with a commercial approach
    • an organisation and they do not employ Brisbane independent artists and arts workers to deliver new projects
    • currently in receipt of creative funding from Council to the value of $10,000 or more in the same financial year that the grant round is open.

Application process

Making your application

All applications are submitted via the online application system SmartyGrants.

Preparing an application

The online application system will allow you to save, develop and print out your application before you submit it. Support material can also be attached to your online application. Creative Grants application tips are available to assist.

Creative Sparks grants require a co-funding contribution. Sources could include:

  • applicant cash contributions
  • grants from other funding bodies
  • fundraising, sponsorship and partnership contributions
  • in-kind support.

Additional funding sources for the grant activity must be included in the income budget section of the application. Applications with a diversity of income will score strongly against assessment criteria.

A budget table is required to support your application. This is a critical aspect of your submission. Before you apply, it is highly recommended you review a budget table example to assist you with developing your budget.

Grants can be used to cover costs such as:

  • artist fees (compulsory)
  • administration costs (for example auspice fee, non-artist salaries)
  • production costs (for example venue hire, materials, technical, equipment hire, permit fees, installation, freight, project management)
  • marketing and promotion costs (for example design, printing, publicity, advertising, documentation)
  • superannuation.

Once an applicant has submitted an application:

  • the applicant will receive an email confirming receipt of the application
  • submitted applications will be kept confidential and the contents will not be disclosed to any person outside the application and assessment process
  • the applicant will receive notification advising whether the application was successful or unsuccessful
  • the list of successful applicants will be published on Council’s website.

Assessment process

What is the assessment process?

Council will review all applications against the eligibility criteria.

Council may determine whether an application meets the eligibility requirements in these guidelines at any stage during the assessment of the application.

If an application is ineligible, the application will not be progressed through the assessment process.

The assessment process

All applications which meet the eligibility criteria will be assessed and merit ranked using the following assessment criteria

This table provides information on the eligibility criteria that will be assessed and merit ranked in the assessment process including criterion number, criteria and percentage wighting.
Criterion numberCriteriaPercentage weighting

Artistic Merit (What is the quality of the project?)

  • Excellence in creative thinking with clear articulation of creative process including vision, ideas, and conceptual rationale.
  • Evidence of artistic, creative and/or cultural innovation, boldness, and experimentation.
  • Demonstrated creative skills and ability of artists/arts professionals involved.
  • Support for diverse artists and evidence of creative collaborations and partnerships.

Reach (Who is the project for?)

  • Appeal to new or under-served audiences and have potential to grow audiences by having a strong understanding of who will be engaged, and market development for the project.
  • Offering different ways in which people can participate in and experience the arts through the provision of a public outcome.
  • Provision of activities that are low cost or free to the public with application of access and inclusion principles to the project outcome and adherence to relevant cultural protocols.

Benefit and value (Why is the project important/What is its impact?)

  • Evidence of local demand for the project.
  • Demonstrates cultural, artistic, social, or economic returns on investment including contributing to artistic, cultural and heritage outcomes.
  • Value for money.

Capacity (Is it viable /Can you deliver it?)

  • Evidence of realistic and achievable planning and resource use, including clear budget with itemised sources of funding (including artists fees) and a realistic timeline.
  • Demonstrates strong understanding or history in delivering similar projects.
  • Key artists are cited, and the role of partners/collaborators are confirmed and the benefit to them is articulated.
  • Relevant and high-quality support material including evidence of appropriate cultural permissions.

If Council considers that an application is inaccurate or contains false or misleading information, the application will not be progressed through the assessment process.

The Program is a competitive grants program and not every application that meets the assessment criteria will receive a grant.

In some instances, successful applicants may not receive the full amount of the funding sought but will be offered a percentage of the total sought. In that situation, successful applicants will be required to confirm which of the project outcomes are still achievable and submit a revised budget as a special condition of their Funding Agreement.

Who will assess applications?

All eligible applications will be assessed by an external Assessment Committee who are responsible for providing a shortlist of meritorious applications to the Comparative Assessment Committee.

The Comparative Assessment Committee is responsible for reviewing the shortlist provided by the Assessment Committee and making a recommendation about proposed successful applications to Council’s delegate.

Council’s delegate is responsible for making the final decision regarding all grant allocations under this program.

Successful applicants

The Funding Agreement

Successful applicants must enter into a legally binding grant agreement with Council (the Funding Agreement). Council will not release any funds from the grant to a successful applicant unless and until the Funding Agreement is executed.

You must:

  • ensure that you continue to comply with these guidelines
  • deliver the approved project in accordance with the contents of the submitted application approved by Council for the provision of a grant
  • comply with the Funding Agreement (including any applicable special conditions and appropriate acknowledgement of both Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government's contribution to the Approved Purpose), and
  • fully acquit the grant to Council in accordance with the Funding Agreement.

Any decision by Council to grant funding under this program does not amount to Council’s consent or approval for the carrying out of the approved activities or project.

Successful applicants are responsible for ensuring all other consent and approvals required to conduct the approved activities or project are obtained.


All funds must be acquitted within eight weeks of the stated project completion date by completing and submitting a project acquittal form online through SmartyGrants.

This document must detail the outcomes of the project and how the funds were spent. It must demonstrate that funding has been used for the purpose for which it was provided, include a report of financial transactions and provide evidence that the project achieved its intended objectives. Public feedback surveys are mandatory for activities receiving $10,000 or more in Creative Sparks funds.

Successful applicants will receive a link to the Acquittal Form that will be attached to their application in SmartyGrants.

If a successful applicant fails to properly acquit the funds in accordance with the Funding Agreement, the applicant will be ineligible to apply for another grant from Council for a period of two years.

Unsuccessful applicants

Failure to receive funding is not necessarily due to a poor application but may be the result of a high volume of applications. Unsuccessful applicants may seek feedback on their application by contacting a Council Grants Officer and may be encouraged to resubmit their application for consideration in a future grant round.


Further information is available by contacting Council, where you will be put in contact with a relevant Council officer.

Applicants with a hearing impairment or speech impairment can contact Council through the National Relay Service (NRS):

  • Teletypewriter TTY users can phone 13 36 77 then ask for 07 3403 8888
  • Speak and Listen users can phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 07 3403 8888
  • Internet relay users can connect to the NRS and then ask for 07 3403 8888.

This information is available in other languages by contacting the Translating and Interpreter Services on 13 14 50 and asking to be connected to Council on 07 3403 8888. All enquiry services are free.

Refer to the SmartyGrants help guide for technical assistance when submitting an application. The SmartyGrants support desk is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday on 03 9320 6888 or by email.


This glossary contains terms and phrases applicants may need to be familiar with when planning an application.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural and Intellectual Property means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples interests in their culture, heritage and knowledge and includes the intangible and tangible aspects of cultural practices, cultural expressions, resources, and knowledge systems that have been, and continue to be, developed, nurtured, and refined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as part of expressing their cultural identity. It excludes Intellectual Property Rights and Moral rights.

An Aboriginal person is someone who is of Aboriginal descent, identifies as an Aboriginal person and is accepted as such in the community where he or she lives or comes from.

Ensuring Accessibility means designing a project to make sure it is as easy as possible for a person with a disability to take part, preferably with the same degree of ease and convenience as a person without a disability. Refer to Councils Accessibility Guidelines.

The Acquittal form is due within eight weeks of the stated project completion date. It explains the outcomes of the project and how the funds were spent. It must demonstrate that the funding has been used for the purpose for which it was provided, including a certified report of financial transactions and provide evidence that the project achieved its intended objectives. Successful applicants will receive a link to the Acquittal Form that will be attached to their application in SmartyGrants.

An Artist or cultural worker is a creative person who has specialist training in their field (not necessarily in academic institutions), committed to devoting significant time to their creative activity or practice and who creates art or cultural value as identified with their profession.

An Artist Fee is financial compensation for expertise, time, services, and provision of equipment.

An Arts Worker is a person who manages or facilitates the development of arts and cultural activity.

The Assessment Committee is a group of peers and industry experts who assess applications for funding with advice from art form peers and other industry experts as required. Assessment Committee members are selected for their experience and knowledge. The Assessment Committee recommendations are reported to the Comparative Assessment Committee for review before presentation to Council’s delegate for endorsement.

An Auspice Organisation is an incorporated not-for-profit organisation with an ABN that accepts and manages the legal and financial responsibility of the funding on behalf the unincorporated not-for-profit organisation. It may also be an individual with an ABN that manages the legal and financial responsibility of the funding on behalf of an individual or an unincorporated group or entity. An Auspice Organisation is responsible for providing a financial report on the completion of a project. It is not responsible for the artistic direction or quality of the project. If an applicant states in their application that they are being auspiced by an Auspice Organisation, a letter from that Auspice Organisation must be provided, signed by the chair, president or chief executive officer (or equivalent) of the organisation, agreeing to auspice the proposal.

Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit number that identifies your business to the government and community.

Paying Award Rates / Industry Standard means the applicant must be able to demonstrate that award rates or industry standard are paid to arts and cultural works involved in the proposed activities or project. For further information please refer the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Arts Law, Artour, National Association for the Visual Arts, Theatre Network Australia, Ausdance Queensland, Australian Writers’ Guild, Australian Society of Authors, MEAA, Access Arts, BlakDance, Museums and Galleries Queensland.

Community is any group of people who identify through a common element which may be geographically specific, shared cultural heritage, age group or a community of interest e.g., the community of acapella singers, or a community defined by age, gender, ability, diversity, or language group.

Community benefit describes tangible and intangible benefits and opportunities to members of the public accessing or participating in funded project activity and can include cultural, social, economic, reputational, and environmental outcomes.

Commercial approach refers to having a focus on buying and selling arts and cultural goods or activities with a view to making a profit.

The Comparative Assessment Committee is an internal Council group whose role is to undertake the review of assessment process and funding recommendations.

Core business refers to the activities of an entity that incur fixed costs or discretionary costs which cannot be attributed to a specific project. Fixed costs are costs that would be incurred by the entity, even if the entity’s projects did not eventuate.

Creative producer is the term applied to someone who enables the making of a creative product including management of finances, marketing, associated legal and royalty issues. A creative producer may or may not have a technical role in the development of creative product (e.g., a music producer may not necessarily produce the music).

Cultural capability training and awareness of cultural protocolsis required with your Acquittal if your project engages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists/creatives.  Cultural Capability Training evidence could be proof of obtaining local expert knowledge, self-driven research, workshop or a certificate of completion for a relevant training course. Cultural protocol evidence might include written confirmation of the cultural protocols followed eg letter of support when delivering the project, including a link to any source materials.

Culturally and linguistically diverse people who were born, or whose parents were born in a non-English speaking country and from communities with diverse language, ethnic background, nationality, dress, traditions, food, societal structures, art, and religious characteristics.

Demand can take the form of history of attendance/participation, confirmed interest from project or program partners, data from relevant research, letters of support, and financial investment at a local level.

Eligible means that the applicant or project satisfies the conditions for funding.

An Enterprise is a small business or company with a focus on commercial activity, such as selling goods or services and/or a social purpose e.g., service provision to communities.

A For-Profit Organisation or business can distribute profit among the members, investors, or shareholders of the organisation, while the organisation is in operation or when it ends.

Funding Agreement is the binding agreement between Council and a successful applicant under this grant program and which contains obligations relating to the grant of funding including any special conditions that may be applicable.

GST stands for Goods and Services Tax. If an applicant or auspicing organisation is GST registered, 10% GST will be added to the grant as an itemised GST gross-up. If an applicant or auspicing organisation is not GST registered, the 10% GST will be added to the grant, but not itemised as GST. For advice on GST, please contact a tax advisor or the Australian Taxation Office on 13 24 78 or visit their website

Independent artists and arts workers are defined as someone not employed on an ongoing basis by the applicant organisation.

In-kind support are goods and services you receive but do not pay for including volunteer labour, administrative support, furniture, equipment, materials, venue and office space, professional services (e.g., legal, financial) and technical services. These contributions should be given a dollar value and must be included in your proposed budget.

Innovation is creating value from new ideas involving the applying of new ideas to create new or significantly improved processes and products.

Intellectual Property Rights includes all present and future rights in relation to copyright, trademarks, designs, patents, trade, business or company names, trade secret, confidential or other proprietary rights, or any rights to registration of such rights whether created before or after the date of the Funding Agreement, and whether existing in Australia or otherwise, but excludes Moral Rights.

Investment is the provision of value toward something for its growth, development, sustainability and/or maintenance.

Materials (consumables) refers to items purchased to be used during the project and are used up by the completion of the project.

Moral Rights means the right of integrity of authorship, the right of attribution of authorship and the right not to have authorship falsely attributed, more particularly as conferred by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), and rights of a similar nature anywhere in the world, whether existing before or after the date of the Funding Agreement.

New Work is a performance or artwork that has not had a public presentation.

Notification Date is the date that Council notifies the applicant in writing of the application outcome.

Not-for-profit community organisation is an organisation that carries on activities for a public purpose and whose primary object is not directed at making profit for its members.  They can be structured as an unincorporated association; incorporated association, companies limited by guarantee, Indigenous corporations, a co-operative, or a charity. Unincorporated organisations must be auspiced by an incorporated body that is based in the Brisbane LGA.

Non-government organisation is an organisation that is not subject to the control of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory and/or a local government.

A Partnership is an agreement between artists, arts workers, cultural worker, creative producer or not-for-profit community arts or cultural organisations and public non-government or private sector organisations or another entity. The agreement must provide creative professionals with access to resources and opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Public Liability Insurance is third-party insurance designed to protect not only members of the public but visitors, trespassers, sub-contractors, or anyone else who may be physically injured and/or whose property may be damaged whilst you undertake your project. It does not usually cover employees or volunteers. For further information about insurance, visit the Arts Law Centre of Australia.

Public Outcome is a sharing of the funded activity outcome with the public. A public outcome could be, but is not limited to, a performance, exhibition, installation, artist talk, open studio, rehearsed reading, workshop, or development showing.

Recovery is a process through which the creative sector can resume the diverse activities that were curtailed because of COVID-19.

Resilience is a process of growing capability and taking advantage of emergent opportunities, particularly those presented by the pandemic.

Superannuation may be required if you are contracting artists or arts workers and more than half the dollar value of the contract is for their labour. Please see the Australian Taxation Office’s guidelines on contractors for guidelines around the payment of superannuation.

A Torres Strait Islander person is someone who is of Torres Strait Islander descent, identifies as a Torres Strait Islander person and is accepted as such in the community where he or she lives or comes from.

Last updated: 11 December 2023

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