Creative Sparks Grants Program Guidelines

The Creative Sparks Grants Program (the Program) is a partnership between Brisbane City Council (Council) and the Queensland Government to support local arts and culture in Brisbane.

Learn about the Program:


Council and the Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland, are committed to fostering opportunities for a creative and prosperous Brisbane.

The Program is a funding program that invests in projects and initiatives that develop Brisbane’s identity as a global city for creativity.


The Program aims to:

  • support practitioners and producers to develop products, partnerships and new work that grow Brisbane’s reputation as a global city for creativity;
  • ensure that Brisbane residents and visitors to the city have access to a diverse range of creative and cultural activities and experiences; and
  • provide cultural, social and economic outcomes that benefit and add value to Brisbane.

The program

Applicants may apply for up to $10,000 per application.

All applications will be assessed on set criteria and must demonstrate the artistic, cultural, social and/or economic impact of their proposed activity or project and their outcomes.

Eligibility and grant requirements

Eligible applications

The following conditions apply for applications to be eligible for funding through the Program.

  • Applicants must be 17 years of age or over at the time of submitting an application.
  • Applicants who are 17 years of age must 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.
  • The following categories of individuals and organisations may apply:
    • individuals must:
      • be residents of the Brisbane Local Government Area (LGA)
      • be permanent residents or Australian citizens
      • have an Australian Business Number (ABN) or nominate an accountable auspice organisation that has an ABN.
    • incorporated organisations based in the Brisbane LGA.
    • unincorporated organisations, auspiced by an incorporated body that is based in the Brisbane LGA.
    • auspicing organisations are limited to supporting a maximum of two applications per grant round.
  • The grant activity and/or outcome must occur within the Brisbane LGA or be able to demonstrate benefit to residents of Brisbane.
  • Applicants must not have any outstanding reporting or acquittals with Council or Arts Queensland.
  • Additional funding sources for the grant activity must be included in the income budget section of the application.

Limitations on funding:

  • up to 25% of the total costs of documentation, evaluation and interpretation of the project
  • up to 25% of the total costs of travel, accommodation and related travel expenses for artists, arts workers, cultural workers or creative producers
  • up to 20% of the total costs for marketing of professional artistic product or project outcomes
  • up to 10% total framing or freight
  • up to 10% of total publishing costs.

The Program will not fund:

  • prizes, award ceremonies or competitions
  • murals and school arts activities, including eisteddfods
  • general operating expenses such as electricity, lease/rent payments, telephone, uniforms, etc. that are part of ongoing expenses
  • capital works or facility maintenance and improvements
  • debt repayment
  • retrospective funding, i.e. projects and/or components of a project must not have commenced prior to the grant notification date
  • general public liability or insurance costs for the individual applicant, organisation or proposed activity
  • staff wages for permanent staff or for project staff positions that are planned to continue after the project
  • food and alcohol costs associated with projects or events
  • projects that do not pay recommended industry rates for artists, arts workers and creative producers (in-kind rates must be calculated at industry standard).

Ineligible applications

Applications will be deemed ineligible if identified as:

  • incomplete or submitted after the closing date and time
  • for political organisations or activities that have a political purpose
  • for applicants who have previously been successful in obtaining Council grants but have outstanding acquittals or debts
  • for educational institutions
  • fundraising ventures, including charitable events
  • projects that are the core responsibility of other levels of government (e.g. Queensland Government departments, such as the Department of Education or Queensland Health).

Assessment process

Eligible applications will be assessed against the following criteria.

Assessment criteria for the Program by criteria number, criteria and percentage weighting.

Criteria Number

Criteria Percentage weighting - Category A

Merit (what is the project?)

  • Excellence in creative thinking with clearly articulated objectives and a vision for the project.
  • Evidence of artistic, creative and/or cultural innovation.
  • Provision of relevant support material demonstrating the quality of the key creatives’ previous work or creative practice.

Reach (who is the project for?)

  • Strong understanding of the audience and market for the project.
  • Clearly articulates how the project will reach the target audience.
  • Demonstrates that community access and inclusion has been considered in the project outcome.

Benefit and value (why is the project important?)

  • Project provides strong cultural and/or social outcomes for Brisbane residents and visitors to the city.
  • Provides opportunities to grow Brisbane’s creative economy and workforce.

Capacity (can you deliver it?)

  • Evidence of good planning, including budget estimates with appropriate resourcing, including payment of creative personnel where applicable.
  • Demonstrates strong understanding or history in delivering similar projects.

Applications are assessed as follows.

  • Council officers will assess eligibility against the grant guidelines.
  • Council will not redress errors in applications. If an application is deemed ineligible, it will not be assessed.
  • An Assessment Committee appraises the eligible applications against the assessment criteria to provide a shortlist of meritorious applications to the Comparative Assessment Committee for review before presentation to Council’s delegate.
  • Council’s delegate makes the final decision regarding grant allocation.

The Program is a competitive grants program. 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.

Application process

Making your application

Applications are submitted via the online application system SmartyGrants.

Contact SmartyGrants

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 and can be contacted on 03 9320 6888 or by email.

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.

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.

Applications will only be accepted if submitted on the online application form and associated templates.

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 a letter advising whether your application was successful or unsuccessful
  • the list of successful applicants will be published on this website.

Successful applicants

If you are successful in obtaining a grant, you must sign the Funding Agreement and return it to Council. This step must be completed before any funding will be provided to you by Council under these guidelines.

You must:

  • ensure that you continue to comply with these guidelines
  • deliver the approved project in accordance with the contents of the submitted applications approved by Council for the provision of a grant
  • comply with the terms and conditions in the Funding Agreement (including any applicable special conditions)
  • fully acquit the grant to Council in accordance with the terms and conditions in the Funding Agreement.

Applicants have 18 months from the time of the notification of a successful application to complete the project and acquit the grant. Grants cannot be reapplied for two years if the applicant does not submit an outcome report which includes a financial report and an evaluation report.

Unsuccessful applicants

Failure to receive funding is not necessarily due to a poor application but may be the result of the demand for funds. Unsuccessful applicants can 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.

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

  • TTY users phone 13 36 77 then ask for 07 3403 8888
  • Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 07 3403 8888
  • Internet relay users 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.

Terms and conditions

Successful applicants must abide by Council's terms and conditions as part of the Funding Agreement.

Only Council has authority to approve grants. Approval of a grant does not imply that Council has given any other consent. Applicants should note that events or cultural activities may require other approvals and consents.


The glossary contains a number of terms and phrases applicants may need to be familiar with when planning an application.

The Acquittal Report is due within 18 months from the notification date and 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 Creative Practitioner 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 arts worker is a person who manages or facilitates the development of arts and cultural activity.

Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) are unincorporated collectives of professional creative practitioners and incorporated, not-for-profit arts organisations that identify as an ARI. ARIs are characterised by the following qualities: they are managed and operated by creative practitioners, they operate on a not-for-profit basis, they have a continuing program of creative activities.

Assessment Process is the process where applications are assessed against the assessment criteria under these guidelines and a determination is made for recommendation to Council’s delegate.

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.

An auspice body is an incorporated entity or an individual with an ABN that manages a grant on behalf of an individual or an unincorporated group or entity. An auspice body 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.

A 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 and environmental outcomes.

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

Comparative Assessment Committee

The role of Comparative Assessment Committee members is 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.

Development opportunities are cultural activities that have a development intention, for emerging or established artists of any age and skill level.

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

Emerging talent is defined as being within the first five years of professional practice.

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.

Entrepreneurship is the organisation and management of an enterprise/s with considerable initiative, innovation and risk.

Equipment (non-consumables) refers to items purchased to be used during the project but can continue to be used after the completion of the project.

Funding Agreement is the agreement between Council and a successful applicant under this grant program and which contains terms and conditions 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

In-kind contribution or in-kind support 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.

Innovation is the creating of something new or different.

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.

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

Not-for-profit organisation is an organisation whose constitution states that any profits or surpluses must be used to further the objectives of the organisation, rather than benefit an individual or group of individuals.

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 a creative practitioner, arts worker, creative producer or cultural organisation 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.

Performance indicators are measurable outcomes intended to evaluate a project or funded activity.

Last updated: 15 November 2021

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