The H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Indigenous Fellowship

The Research School of Humanities and the Arts established the H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Indigenous Fellowship in 2019 as a strategic priority. This supports the ANU Strategic Plan in relation to the advancement of Australia’s Indigenous peoples and our unique national responsibilities in partnership with Indigenous Australia.



The H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Indigenous Fellowship allows the recipient to: 

  • engage in a period of uninterrupted creative work conducting research and developing new ideas, in residence at the Australian National University. 
  • contribute to the fostering of the creative arts within the University 
  • interact with the University academic community, staff, students and visitors. 

The University envisages that the Fellow’s work and achievements whilst in residence will be represented by some formal legacy; performance, artistic contribution, or other permanent acknowledgement. 



Applicants may be engaged in any discipline in the creative arts such as the visual arts, contemporary craft or decorative arts, music, film/video production, acting, dance, theatre, writing, poetry, contemporary design or the creative use of new media technology. To ensure that each area of the arts is equally represented by the Fellowship, a three-year cycle has been nominated as follows: 

  • 2019 Writing (including literature, prose, poetry, script writing) 
  • 2020 Performance (including theatre, music, dance) 
  • 2021 Cancelled due to global pandemic 
  • 2022 Visual Arts (including visual arts, new media film & video) 
  • 2023 Writing (including literature, prose, poetry, script writing) 
  • 2024 Performance (including theatre, music, dance) 
  • 2025 Visual Arts (including visual arts, new media film & video) 
  • 2026 Writing (including literature, prose, poetry, script writing) 

The Fellowship is intended for well-established or mid-career, indigenous Australian artists with recognised standing in their community. The Australian National University is committed to the promotion of equal opportunity for all persons, including women, people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island descent, people of all racial and ethnic groups and people with disabilities. 


The Fellow is normally expected to be in residence at the University for a maximum of five months, half of which should be during the teaching periods. 

Performance artists, and others for whom professional practice precludes long-term continuous residency, should demonstrate how shorter or intermittent residency periods could achieve the purpose of the Fellowship. 


The Fellowship is up to $33,000, which is intended to cover accommodation, travel, living expenses and material costs (associated with the Fellow’s particular discipline). Funds must be spent in the year the Fellowship is undertaken and funds will not be carried forward into the following year. Depending upon the area of practice and individual requirements, the Fellowship will offer study or studio facilities at the University to the recipient. In some cases, these may need to be shared in some form with other practitioners. For applicants proposing intermittent periods of residency, their applications should contain a proposal of how the available funding should be structured to enable their Fellowship to proceed. 

In-kind support or other assistance may be available from the University for the public programs in which the Fellow is involved: e.g., performances, exhibitions, seminars, public meetings, or workshops. Depending upon the financial requirements of the selected Fellow, a second Fellowship, for a reduced tenure period, may be awarded. 

The Advisory Committee

The H. C. Coombs Creative Arts Indigenous Fellowship is administered by the Research School of Humanities & the Arts (RSHA) and managed by the RSHA Executive Committee. This Committee is chaired by the Director RSHA. Two independent experts may also be consulted. 

Application Process

1. The Committee actively consults widely with university colleagues seeking their interest to nominate appropriate fellows for the Fellowship. The nomination will reflect the proposed areas relevance to the three-year cycle. 
2. Nominations must be supported by an academic unit of the University in addition to the Research School of Humanities & the Arts. Written nominations should be submitted by the nominating academic unit of the University on behalf of the nominated person. 
3. Applications can only be received from an ANU academic staff member or a hosting area (the nominator). 

Proposals to be developed by the nominator must include the following:

  • Nominate the artist (CV to be attached)
  • Indicate the contact person (nominator) who agrees to undertake the organisational responsibilities in hosting the Fellowship with the Research School of Humanities & the Arts.
  • Describe the facilities available and academic colleagues who may be involved with the Fellow ( cross-University collaboration encouraged)
  • Indicate the extent of interaction with the University community and any other connections expected to be made
  • Outline the proposed creative arts program and its duration
  • A statement from the Head of the hosting School or Centre outlining how the proposed Fellow will contribute to the activities and strategic goals of the School or Centre
  • Outline of the budget proposed (accommodation, travel, living expenses, material costs)
  • Provide an indication of the likely developments or outcomes of the residency, including legacy contributions to the ANU

Fellows will be located in the nominating area with office space arrangements determined by the nature of the Fellow's practice. Upon selection the fellowship process will follow the ANU Academic titles conferral policy.

An acknowledgement of receipt of the nomination will be sent to the artist.
Applications MUST be sent to:

Attention: Executive Assistant to the Director  
Director’s office, G13 AD Hope Building, 14 Ellery Crescent 
Research School of Humanities and the Arts 
Australian National University, ACT, 2601  

For further information please contact: 
T: (02) 6125 4829. 


Selection Criteria

Fellowship proposals will be assessed by the H. C. Coombs Creative Arts Indigenous Fellow Advisory Committee in terms of: 

  • the quality of the proposal 
  • its contribution to the life of the University and its activities 
  • the capacity of the proposed Fellow to execute their proposal 
  • artistic standing of the proposed Fellow. 

Other considerations

  • Demonstrated and active support and infrastructure available from the University academic area interested in hosting the Fellow 
  • The University reserves the right not to award the Fellowship in a particular calendar year. 
  • Quality of the proposed creative work program and its potential for visibility and engagement with the University community, including coursework and PhD students and members of the broader community 
  • Potential for contact and collaboration with other parts of the University and the community 
  • Feasibility of the program. 



The Advisory Committee requires a written report providing an account of activities during the Fellowship, outlining the benefits of the residency. Other comments and recommendations in which the Fellowship could be improved within its existing limits for the benefit of future Fellows are welcome. 

This report should be completed by the Fellow prior to leaving the University and at the completion of the residency period. Final Fellowship payments will only be paid to the Fellow upon the University’s receipt of the Report. 


Updated:  13 January 2023/Responsible Officer:  RSHA Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications