Play the City (Sydney): NSW Artists and Musicians Round Two guidelines

Arts and Cultural Funding Program

Healing Circles, Hiromi Tango, Brisbane Festival 2020. Image Josef Ruckli.

Healing Circles, Hiromi Tango, Brisbane Festival 2020. Image Josef Ruckli.

Applications for Play the City (Sydney): NSW Artists and Musicians are closed.

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Updated Thursday 18 February 2021.


We recommend reading the full guidelines on this page before completing your application.

Apply now

Applications are closed. To apply for funding you will need to complete and submit the relevant application form through our secure online grants system, SmartyGrants.

Key dates

Applications opened on Thursday 18 February 2021

Applications closed on Wednesday 10 March 2021 at 5:00 PM AEDT

Late applications cannot be accepted as the assessment process commences immediately after the deadline.

The priority is for activities that will be delivered in March/April 2021.


If you are an applicant with disability, and you require this information in a format which is accessible to you, or if you require this information in another language, you can contact us on the details above between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

The National Relay service numbers are:

TTY users: Phone 133 677 then ask for (02) 8289 6520

Speak and Listen users: Phone 1300 555 727 then ask for (02) 8289 6520

Internet Relay users: Connect to NES then ask for (02) 8289 6520.


Play the City (Sydney) Round Two

The NSW Government through Create NSW is committing $1,000,000 to bring fun and joy back to the centre of Sydney by supporting live performance.

Play the City (Sydney) supports individuals, venues and arts organisations to present live performance in the selected areas of the Sydney CBD* in the first half of 2021.

Play the City (Sydney) funding program invests in a program of activities, events or performances that activate the selected areas of Sydney CBD. Round Two will be open to live music and performances, events, installations and micro-festivals as long as the primary activity is arts and culture.

You can apply for up to $50,000 towards a one-off or series of live performances to be held in the selected regions of the CBD of Sydney.

*All events must take place in the CBD Sydney between 26 March 2021 and the 30 June 2021 11.59PM AEDT.

The event/s must take place in the City of Sydney LGA as defined on the map.


There is a potential that outcome notifications and payments for the successful recipients may not occur until after their activity/ies have taken place. Please only apply if this will not be issue.

The grant aims to:

  • encourage NSW venues to program more live performance events in the Sydney CBD
  • increase audience participation in live performance events in Sydney
  • support the presentation of work by NSW artists
  • increase paid employment opportunities for artists; and
  • increase the sustainability of the contemporary music sector.

Who can apply for funding?

To be eligible for the Play the City (Sydney) Round Two you need to meet the following criteria:

Applicants can be:

  • Individuals
  • Groups of artists or
  • Organisations** (both not-for-profit and for-profit^)
  • Promoters, agents and managers of bands, performers and other contemporary musicians
  • a Create NSW designated Major Performing Arts company, State Significant Organisation, State Cultural Institution or Key Festival*
  • an educational institution (including preschools, primary and secondary schools)

**Organisations already in receipt of program funding from Create NSW are eligible to apply however the project must sit outside their core activities and those already covered in their Create NSW funding agreement.

All individual applicants must reside in NSW or, for organisations, have a registered office address in NSW.

Applicants either must have an ABN or be administered by an entity with an ABN.

^For-profit organisations are eligible to apply if the activity takes place on a break-even basis.

Applications are encouraged from:

  • Venues
  • Promoters
  • Producers
  • Artists
  • Performance groups
  • Storytellers or
  • A collective of musicians self-presenting.

Project location:

The event/s must take place in the City of Sydney LGA as defined on the map

You are ineligible to apply for this funding if:

  • your project has commenced or already taken place
  • your project will be delivered outside of the identified locations
  • a state or federal government department or agency
  • a local, state or federal government department or agency
  • you have already received funding for the project you are applying for
  • you are applying for filmmaking, screen production, mainstream animation or film festivals (see for funding opportunities in this area).

Please note State Cultural Institutions are eligible to apply.

What can I apply for funding for?

Activities must present an arts and/or cultural activity.

Examples of funding opportunities could include, but are not limited to:

  • a series of public presentation opportunities for independent performers
  • a series of outdoor live music events or a micro-festival
  • a program of nights for emerging hip hop/experimental/electronic musicians.

Eligible costs

Applications can request support for costs associated with presenting live performance events.

This covers a range of expenses including:

  • NSW artists fees – these must be based on Industry rates
  • temporary staging,
  • equipment hire,
  • crew and production wages,
  • costs of implementation of a COVID safety plan, risk management plans and permits,
  • marketing and promotion.

Funding cannot be used for the following:

  • Fees for artists or musicians from interstate or overseas
  • Purchase of instruments or equipment
  • Venue operational costs such as existing management fees, rent and bar upkeep
  • Renovations and the purchase of capital
  • Other any items that Create NSW deems inappropriate

How will my application be assessed?

Applications will be assessed internally OR by a sub-committee of Artform Board members.

Recommendations will be submitted for the approval by the Minister. The funding approvals by the Minister will also be supported by sector context provided by Create NSW.

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria:

1. Project Merit

Your application should demonstrate:

  • the artistic rationale for the project
  • the quality and reputation of your previous work

2. Project Impact

Your application should demonstrate:

  • how you intend to present and promote this work

3. Project Viability

Your application should demonstrate:

  • effective planning and use of resources, including details of the venues where the activities will take place
  • realistic and accurate project budget

Support material

These may include confirmation letters or letters of support related to the program such as letters from venues, partners, key sector contacts or other funding agencies. These letters must be provided as one document.

For proposals involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, letters of support and confirmation of involvement from the relevant communities and/or organisations.

Assessment process

You will receive an automated response from our secure online grants system once your application has been submitted. All applications then proceed through an assessment process as outlined below.

Eligibility check

Once received through the online grants system, all applications will undergo an eligibility check.

Eligible applications proceed to the two-stage assessment process.

If you are deemed ineligible, you will be advised in writing within a few days of your submission date and your application will not proceed to assessment.

Assessment Stage 1

All applications will be assessed against three assessment criteria: Merit, Impact and Viability.

Assessment Stage 2

Create NSW staff will make final recommendations with reference to the assessment criteria, artform, demographics and the distribution, range and scale of recommended applicants.

This may include prioritising applicants living and/or working in regional NSW, people living and/or working in Western Sydney, Aboriginal people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and young people.

Prioritisation of recommended applicants ensures equity across the state and the best outcomes for NSW Government investment.

Further advice and/or clarification may be requested from applicants by Create NSW during the assessment process.

When will I know the outcome of my application?

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their applications by 26 March 2021.

What happens if my application is successful?

Successful applicants will be required to sign a funding agreement that covers the following:

Acceptance: Return a signed contract, and completed invoice, within two weeks of receipt.

Payment: Will be in line with State Government payment processes – all attempts will be made to pay successful applicants no later than 4 weeks after notification.

Publicity: The NSW Government must be acknowledged in any marketing/publicity collateral.

Timing: Your activity must be completed by 30 June 2021.

Reporting: Reporting requirements will be appropriate to the scale of funding received. You will need to complete an acquittal report within 3 months of the Project ending.

What support is available to me?

Resources are available to assist you with your funding application.

If you are applying for activity that involves working with Aboriginal communities or Aboriginal cultural heritage, please refer to Create NSW’s Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Protocols.

We also recommend that you sign up to the Create NSW e-Newsletter to stay informed of updates via our website.

Create NSW staff are available to provide information to potential applicants on interpretation of these Guidelines, including types of projects eligible for funding and advice on the online application process. Staff cannot help directly with your application. To maintain a fair and equitable process, staff are unable to edit or correct any applications.


A Professional Artist/Worker has:

  • A commitment to arts/cultural work as a major aspect of their working life (even if this work is not the main source of their income)
  • A degree of training, experience or manner of working that allows their work to be assessed against the highest practiced standards in their relevant artform or discipline.

A Group is two or more professional artists collaborating on project/s with an arts/cultural outcome. Groups may be legally constituted or an informal working association. They may be an entity that exists long-term, or a project specific association. Both kinds of group are eligible to apply for this funding.

Other information

Image: Healing Circles, Hiromi Tango, Brisbane Festival 2020. Image Josef Ruckli.