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stART: supporting Queensland’s artists and arts workers during COVID-19

Independent Queensland artists and arts workers impacted by COVID-19, received more than $700,000 in funding to support their future careers



Arts Queensland launched the stART Grant Program in May 2020 as part of a Queensland Government rapid response to support Queensland independent creative practitioners and workers impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Images of pins and text - I have officially used all of my start grant before the deadline. Thank you so much to Arts Queensland and Metro Arts for this amazing opportunity

Developed in close consultation with the local arts sector, stART offered $3000 grants to local independent creative practitioners, including artists, artist collaborators, producers, designers, technicians, freelancers and other arts workers, whose employment had been reduced or ceased due to the pandemic.

Activities eligible for support included, but were not limited to: 

  • First stage development work including ideation, research, scoping and development of pitch towards future opportunity. 
  • Creative development of new work, existing work, digital or technical work including but not limited to, script-writing, recording, dramaturgy, planning and design. 
  • Producer services including project management and grant application writing. 
  • Artist technician or creative collaborator fees to enable activity
  • Purchasing of equipment relevant to your activity.

Arts Queensland engaged 10 delivery partners across the state to distribute the stART grants. Delivery  partners included Regional Arts Services Network providers (Access Community Services through BEMAC, Crossroad Arts, Creative Arts Alliance, Empire Theatre, Red Ridge and Queensland Music Festival) along with Brisbane-based Metro Arts, Placemakers* Gold Coast, and JUTE Theatre Company (Cairns).  QMusic served as the statewide partner for contemporary music applicants.



Application process 15 June to 22 June 2020

Outcomes were announced in July 2020


Key stats

  • 10 delivery partners
  • 213 recipients 
  • more than $700,000 awarded
  • 73% of the 213 recipients were located outside Brisbane


Investment Photo Steve and Karen Tyrell with quote

Initial investment was $500,000, however, in response to demand, funding was increased to more than $700,000 to widen support for artists and arts workers. 

In October 2020, seven additional Queensland musicians were supported through stART, following the postponement of the annual Grant McLennan Fellowship in 2020 due to COVID-19. With the pandemic impacting the Fellowship’s prize of international travel, the Grant McLennan Fellowship funding for 2020 was reallocated to support musicians closer to home.




Examples of outcomes for individual projects


Lark Lee is an Australian filmmaker based in Logan. Her documentary series, Weathering the Storm about four Queensland business owners' journeys in adapting to survive COVID-19 economic crisis received support through START


Chloe Wigg is using her stART grant to continue her creative pursuits. The grant has supported the purchase of a desperately needed ergonomic equipment for her studio. As part of this project, Chloe will be creating 3 x all-abilities watercolour tutorials, which will help those with physical limitations connect with art. 


AndAlso Books received funding for the development of a brand new  anthology '𝙊𝙪𝙧 𝙄𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚 𝙑𝙤𝙞𝙘𝙚𝙨' The book contains contributions from more than 50 Queensland writers, offering creative reflections on the cultural and social impacts of COVID-19.


Jesse Irwin pin business was accelerated through the StART grants, supporting Jess to design seven new pins in her Australian Animals and Flowers collection.


Puzzle Dust Entertainment on the Gold Coast received stART funding to support Circus workshops and shows in schools.


Annika Patrick is an artist, photographer and teacher residing on the Sunshine Coast. Annika will be using stART Grant funding to work on a project, Yarns form the Cultural Landscape, where she will film Kabi Kabi Educator and Traditional Owner Brian Warner on-site in and around Noosa National Park. The film will act as a pilot for a larger collaborative series sharing important cultural knowledge with young people and school groups in the local area.


Karen and Steve Tyrell received funding to research and write book five in their Song Bird eco series. The book is about “helping kids to practice resilience and sustainability in a drought environment.”


Brisbane band Krave received a grant to put towards their next album. 


Social Collective received funding to support the purchasing of essential equipment and supplies that is supporting the organisation to to service remote Queensland communities, engage with locals and offer fun interactive team building art activities, which we feel are integral to the mental health of isolated areas.


Feedback about stARTPhoto three people and caption

“This injection of funds will enable many artists struggling at this time to continue working and creating opportunities not only for themselves but for the communities they reside in." – Alison Richardson, Artistic Director, Crossroad Arts

“It’s great to see so many artists as well as professionals benefitting from this grants program and getting the cash injection they need at this difficult time.  This support … is a nod to the intrinsic value of experiencing live music which can enhance mental health and overall wellbeing for a community breaking down the walls of physical isolation. -QMusic CEO Angela Samut.. QMusic Media statement

“More than a quarter of all applications came from people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds across a huge number of creative sectors such as visual art, film, theatre and more, These workers were unable to receive the COVID related support that other Australians have been able to receive. Many of these artists have also lost significant income because of COVID-19 and so this funding will be a huge boost for them.”  - BEMAC’s Program Manager Ant McKenna

"We received an overwhelming amount of applications from all over Queensland, from applicants wanting to support the recording of new music, digital art projects, live performance opportunities that connect with communities, and songwriting workshops," Dom Miller, QMusic Program and Development Manager.

Fifteen talented (Gold Coast) artists selected to receive a smART Grant is simply fantastic news and will support these talented creatives in pursuing their goals.  The funding has truly assisted in injecting some life back into our industry that has been crippled since March.   The talent pool on the Gold Coast is astounding!
-    Placemakers*Gold Coast CEO and Artistic Director, Rosie Dennis.

What next

The Queensland Government has committed more than $42.5 million to support the arts, cultural and creative sector through COVID-19 including initiatives rolling out through the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package

Find out more

stART webpage