Image credit: 2020, Sustaining Creative Workers Initiative recipient, Jasmine Mansbridge, ‘The Thought Catcher’ sculpture. Photo by Georgie Mann.

Sustaining Creative Workers Initiative

The Victorian Government’s Sustaining Creative Workers initiative supported the continued work of Victoria’s independent creative practitioners and workers who have been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) in 2021. This was the second iteration of the program, following an initial round of support delivered by Creative Victoria in 2020.

Sustaining Creative Workers delivered quick-response funding to independent creative practitioners, sole traders, freelancers, collectives, groups and micro-organisations/businesses whose work and livelihoods have been affected by coronavirus. This includes practitioners and organisations that work in support roles for creative activities.  

You can read the Guidelines for the program here.

About the Program

This round was delivered in collaboration with industry bodies including Regional Arts Victoria, Arts Access Victoria, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Ausdance Vic, Music Victoria, NETS Victoria, Theatre Network Australia and Writers Victoria, together with Creative Victoria.

The Victorian Government, through Creative Victoria, funded the initiative and approved the industry advisory group recommendations.

Some key statistics from the program are provided below. 


  • Total number applications received: 4,137 
  • Total funding requested: $25m
  • 35 applications from First People applicants through an invited round 
  • 183 from Deaf and/or disabled applicants  
  • 557 from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) applicants  
  • 399 from regional Victoria    

Successful applications:

  • Total funding recommended: $4,804,832 
  • Total successful applications:
    • Individuals: 592  
    • Micro orgs/groups: 183  
  • Funding granted where one or more applicants identified as First People: $575,009  (11.97% of total funding) 
  • Funding granted where one or more applicants identified as CALD or people of colour: $1,895,368 (39.45%) 
  • Funding granted where one or more applicants identified as deaf and/or disabled: $1,017,997 (21.19%) 
  • Funding granted where one or more applicants identified as regional: $1,460,357 (30.39%) 

Recommended projects across artforms:

  • Circus and Physical Theatre (including Comedy and Cabaret): 3.9%  
  • Craft/Textiles: 1.8% 
  • Culture: 1.0%  
  • Dance: 4.3% 
  • Design/Fashion: 1.8%  
  • Heritage (including Museums and Libraries and Archives): 0.3%  
  • Literature and Publishing: 4.8%  
  • Film/TV/Interactive Media including Digital Games: 8.0%  
  • Multi-practice (including multi-arts, cross-artform and festivals): 12.4%
  • Music (Contemporary and Classical): 25.5% 
  • Opera and Musical Theatre: 0.7%  
  • Theatre: 9.3%  
  • Visual Arts: 20.9%  
  • Other: 6.2%     

A full list of successful applicants is available here.

Due to the large volume of applications, individual application feedback could not be provided for this program. This was expected, and noted in the program guidelines from the outset, with resources dedicated to supporting potential applicants to submit their proposal.

General feedback on the program is provided below. Please note, however, that the highly competitive nature of the program meant that successful applicants had to meet the criteria (see below) to a high level; it was not enough to simply meet them at minimum level.    

In general, strong applicants demonstrated: 

  • A high level of achievements relevant to proposed activity; 
  • A strong track record of public outcomes; 
  • How the requested funding would be used to sustain creative practice; 
  • A high level of achievements congruent with requested project funding; 
  • The potential impact to a diverse audience, where relevant; 
  • How the activity would support the target community, where relevant; and, 
  • Support for the confirmed activity (where relevant) with partners, participants and/or the local community. 

 Conversely, common feedback for applications which were not supported included: 

  • Applicant did not demonstrate public outcomes or industry experience; 
  • Applicant did not clearly demonstrate how proposed activity will sustain creative practice; 
  • Proposed activity was unclear and did not demonstrate how the requested funds would sustain creative practice; 
  • Impact on practice could have been more clearly articulated; 
  • Application was lacking in detail; 
  • The applicant had a limited track record of previous public outcomes; and,  
  • Seeking funding for this specific type of research didn’t directly relate to the applicant’s own creative practice. 

All applications were assessed by a minimum of two creative industry peers (see below) and endorsed by the industry advisory group, before final approval by Creative Victoria.  

Applicants had the opportunity to request one of their assessors be drawn from a list representing a range of lived experiences including those living in regional Victoria; First Peoples; Deaf and/or disabled assessors; and cultural and/or linguistically diverse assessors.

Applications were assessed against the grant program aims and the following two criteria, both of which were equally weighted:

1. Creative/Professional Merit

The applicant’s career/organisation stage and type of practice was taken into consideration when assessing the following: 

  • Does the applicant’s biography and/or profile/ curriculum vitae demonstrate a track record of public outcomes/creative industry work relevant to the proposed activity?

2. Potential Impact

The potential impact of the grant on the applicant and their career/business stage was taken into consideration when assessing the following: 

  • Does the proposed activity contribute to the sustainability and/or development of the applicant’s practice? 
  • Where applicable, the applicant’s track record of engaging with Victoria’s diverse communities. 

Scores were provided from assessors on both criteria, which were moderated by the industry advisory group to ensure a consistent application of the scoring system across the assessor pool. This ensured all applicants, regardless of which two assessors reviewed their submission, had the same opportunity to be supported.

The top ranked applications were then reviewed against equity benchmarks (in accordance with the guidelines) to ensure these minimums were met, before the industry advisory group provided a final list to the Victorian Government for approval. 

Assessors were drawn from a pool of industry experts recruited by industry advisory group. The pool of assessors is available here.  

These assessors were inducted to the assessment process to ensure they understood the guidelines explicitly before commencing assessment of all eligible applications. 

Image and photo release forms and information

Please read the Funding Conditions attached to your SmartyGrants account and include the following acknowledgement text along with the logos in advertising and promotional material:

Sustaining Creative Workers Initiative is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and Regional Arts Victoria.

Please contact Regional Arts Victoria at [email protected] if you have any queries regarding the logo.

Acquitting your grant

To acquit your grant, log in to SmartyGrants using the same log in details you used to apply. Click under the “My Submissions” link at the top of the page. Here you will see your submission and the associated forms open and waiting for you to complete.