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Dr Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan, 2022 National Folk Fellow
Dr Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan, 2022 National Folk Fellow. 

Applications for the 2024 National Folk Fellowship are now closed

The National Library is undertaking a review of its Fellowships and Scholarships Program to ensure it meets the needs of researchers, PhD students and creators. This review may result in changes to some of the opportunities offered beyond 2024.

Please also read Information for Applicants.

Be inspired by the work of previous National Folk Fellows.

Guidelines for the 2024 National Folk Fellowship

Supported by the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival

The National Library holds the most significant collections of folklore and related material in Australia. This Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for the recipient to discover and explore original collected material at the Library for use in their own artistic work.

The outcome of this residency at the National Library will result in a performance at the 2024 National Folk Festival and a presentation at the National Library. It is a requirement that Folk Fellowship creates material suitable for inclusion in the Library’s Oral History and Folklore collection. We recommended that applicants align their proposal with the Library’s collecting priorities (see section 2 of the NLA’s collecting strategy).

What does the Folk Fellow receive?

The Fellowship provides support for professional development of artistic practice through research in the Library's extensive folklore and related collections, as well as the documentation of the Fellow's work for the Library’s Collection.

The Folk Fellow is provided with:

  • a stipend of $8000. This is intended to cover return travel to Canberra for one person, living expenses and accommodation in Canberra for four weeks or equivalent, as well as project expenses for presentations at the 2024 National Folk Festival and at the National Library. The honorarium will be paid in two instalments, one at the commencement of the project and one mid-project.
  • access to the National Library sound recording studios for up to 30 hours over the residency. This may include studio access to recordings which require preservation and for recording and mixing new performances.
  • a master tape of any recordings made during the residency. The Fellow may use this in future commercial publications or public performances, with acknowledgment of the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival.
  • supported access to collections.
  • digital copies of source materials (within set limits and according to access conditions).
  • a workstation with internet access and listening facilities.
  • a guaranteed performance at the National Folk Festival in Canberra (April 2024). This performance must highlight the work undertaken during the Fellowship.
  • a public presentation at the National Library that reflects on the goals, sources and achievements of the project (October/November 2024).

Please note: Fellowships are awarded to an individual. Funding will be paid directly to the individual for the purposes of supporting their Fellowship. Any other arrangements between the individual and their employer are the individual’s responsibility. As Fellowship support may have tax implications, it is recommended Fellows seek professional financial advice.

Who can apply?

The National Folk Fellowship is open to established and emerging folk practitioners, including musicians, singers, dancers, poets, performance artists and collector/performers.

You must be able to demonstrate:

  • a level of artistry required for a featured performance at the National Folk Festival.
  • an effective project concept and plan that uses original source materials in developing the performance.
  • the ability to undertake research in the National Library’s collections.
  • the proposal is achievable within the timeframe of the residency and will suit performance at the National Folk Festival.

It is a requirement that material created as a result of the Fellowship will be suitable for inclusion in the Library’s folklore collection. We recommended that applicants align their proposal with the Library’s collecting priorities (see section 2 of the NLA’s collecting strategy).

Both Australian and overseas applicants are eligible to apply but the successful applicant must be available to fulfil the following requirements of the Folk Fellowship:

  • a 4-week residency, which may be taken between October 2023 and February 2024.
  • performance at the National Folk Festival (April 2024).
  • a live streamed, public presentation/performance at the National Library of Australia (October/November 2024).

You cannot apply if:

  • your research is contributing to the completion of a PhD thesis or Masters project or other educational qualification.
  • you have received a Fellowship, Scholarship or Grant at the National Library within the last five years, ie funding was received in one of the Library’s 2019-2023 program rounds.

If you have any questions regarding the eligibility of your project, we encourage you to discuss your ideas with Fellowships staff at the National Library prior to starting an application on 02 6262 1099 or fellowships@nla.gov.au. 

Selection criteria

In assessing applications, the selection panel will consider:

  • the quality and significance of the project.
  • the applicant’s artistic quality and capacity to undertake research in the collections.
  • the relevance of the collections to the project.
  • the practicality of the project (e.g. timelines, type of performance event).
  • protocols surrounding the use of Indigenous cultural material (if applicable).

How to use collection material

Fellows are free to create artistic work in their own style, but the approach should demonstrate an understanding of the value of original sources. For example, a performer could:

  • accurately recreate Australian traditions or styles.
  • reinvent, arrange or re-imagine original sources.
  • re-use original sources in works, recordings or publications.
  • develop innovative artistic practice drawing on collection materials.

The proposed project should clearly show how you will research and use the National Library's archival collections to meet your artistic/project goals.

You should describe how you intend to use source materials, including how these may assist to re-imagine or re-invent folklore traditions. You must demonstrate the relevance of particular collection materials to your project. If the source materials are likely to include content by or about Indigenous Australians, you must detail your plans regarding culturally appropriate consultation with Indigenous communities.

The Library has an active folklore field collecting program, and its archival sound recordings date back to 1952. Additionally, the Library’s extensive collections of music, maps, pictures, performance memorabilia, historic newspapers, books and journals can provide rich context. While the archival recordings focus on Australian traditions, these cross a myriad of styles, genres and diverse cultural practices. To find out more about the collections consult the Library's website, search the catalogue or use the Ask a Librarian service for further assistance.

What is expected of a Fellow?

Successful applicants will receive a Letter of Offer along with a Conditions of Appointment agreement that must be signed and returned. These documents outline the terms and conditions under which the Fellowship will proceed.

The Library will negotiate and confirm the residency dates with Fellows.  The duration of the residency is expected to be 4 consecutive weeks, which will be taken between October 2023 and February 2024. In exceptional circumstances this may be varied slightly, but no further financial support will be offered.

Funding is paid directly to the individual in two instalments, one at the commencement of the project and one mid-project.  As this support may have tax implications, it is recommended Fellows seek professional financial advice.

All intellectual property rights (including copyright) in any work produced by the Fellow during their Fellowship will vest in the Fellow on its creation.

Fellows will be required to:

  • acknowledge the support of the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival in performances, recordings or publications resulting from the Fellowship.
  • acknowledge and cite source collection materials appropriately.
  • deposit a copy of any recordings made in the course of the Fellowship in the Library's collection and provide open access for research use.  If the project does not include recordings, the Fellow will deposit in the Library other results of the Fellowship. These may be a published or unpublished work, or a reproduction or documentation of the project.
  • assist the Library and the Festival with media and public communication about their project, performances and fellowship.

The copyright status of items in the Library’s collection varies. Before downloading, copying, adapting, publishing, distributing or otherwise reusing any of the items found in the Library’s collection, you are responsible for determining the copyright status and terms of use applicable for such items, and checking with and/or obtaining the copyright owner’s consent before using or reproducing such content.

For further information or to discuss your project, contact: 02 6262 1099 or fellowships@nla.gov.au.

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