2021 Micro Grants

2021 Micro Grants

Continuing a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arts Northern Rivers has offered a second round of the Quick Response Micro Grants. Grant up to $1,000 were available for independent practicing artists or organisations working across all art forms to support and maintain their creative endeavours and future planning.

Designed to support our arts and cultural community in unprecedented times, this funding aims to be as flexible as possible. Projects did not require a specific outcome but could focus on skills development or capacity-building. A total of 13 recipients were successful in the 2021 round of Micro Grants.

The individual recipients from across all corners of the Northern Rivers include; Amarina Toby (Amarina Art), Antoinette O’Brien, Andrew McDonald (Citylights Projects), Betty Russ, Erin Robinson, Michael Philp, Rochelle Summerfield, Rubyrose Bancroft and William Walker. With the assistance of this funding, these recipients will contribute to greater community resilience including creating new artistic work, improving professional skills and audience development.

“Thank you to Arts Northern Rivers for supporting our creative community at such a crucial time. Through the support of the Micro Grants opportunity, I am developing a new website which is essential to the financial viability of my practice in reaching new clients and promoting services that are resilient in the face of ongoing impacts of COVID-19.” – Andrew McDonald.

The funding will also assist self-managed cultural organisations including Elevator ARI, Lismore Theatre Company, Murwillumbah Theatre Company Inc. and Small Time Studio in adapting creative spaces as well as digital development.

Following the project’s huge response of applications received from the Northern Rivers creative community, Arts Northern Rivers is continuing to work to find opportunities to support the development of our arts and creative industries across the regions of the Northern Rivers region.


Amarina Toby (Amarina Art) – Amarina is a Gaangalu and Githabul, Bundjalung multidisciplinary artist. Spending most of her life living on Githabul, Bundjalung land she draws inspiration from the stories of country and how land has changed over time. This can be seen in her signature style of topographical paintings. Amarina currently resides on Widjabul Wiabul, Bundjalung land and is owner of an Indigenous gallery which showcases a collection of works of local Bundjalung artists. The Micro Grant will assist the gallery’s operations and increase community engagement.

Antoinette O’Brien – Antoinette O’Brien’s arts practice is both introspective and subversive. It sits at the crossroads of a garden meditation and the chaos of riot. The works Antoinette constructs reflect society and the community to which she is inextricably bound. Antoinette has expressed herself in various media during her career including printmaking, performance, painting and installation. However, she always returns to clay which is the means by which she grounds herself. The Micro Grant will assist Antoinette in completing an online course through the Australian Ceramics Masterclasses online program, the development of a new body of work and developing a facilitated workshop.

Andrew McDonald (Citylights Projects) – Andrew McDonald is an artist, curator, gallerist, creative producer, archivist and the founder and director of Citylights Projects (1995 – Current), Misty (1998 – 2012) and Until Never (2005 – 2012). Since 1995 Andrew has initiated and produced over 180 projects, featuring more than 500 artists. Andrew is a platform creator focused on contemporary public art, collaboration, and presentation of new works, active internationally, across Australia and based in Byron Bay since 2012. The Micro Grant will assist Andrew in creating a new website focussed on COVID-19 resilient projects and services, alongside the diverse aspects of his multi-disciplinary art/curatorial practice, as well as enabling access to my substantial archive of historical projects.

Betty Russ – Betty Russ is a multi-disciplinary artist and arts worker. Her art practice ferments in between and around the philosophies and renderings of fear, environmental feminism, science fiction, spirituality and kitsch. Working across sculpture, installation, sound, ceramics, and assemblage, Betty draws on personal and observed experiences to investigate material manifestations of  psychological states and hypnagogic fantasies. The Micro Grant will assist with the creation of a new body of work conceptually driven by the sci-fi genre and the queering of botany.

Elevator ARI – Established in 2020 in Lismore, Elevator ARI is an emergent gallery and studio space with a focus on experimental and cross-disciplinary art forms sourced from across the Australian cultural landscape. Elevator ARI is dedicated to the local arts community and a sustainable approach to the delivery of arts, workshops and events that support the evolution of artists, their careers, collaborative developments and the crucial positivity of the arts in these challenging times. The Micro Grant will assist Elevator ARI to establish a dynamic and long-term sustainable marketing and communications aspect for the organisation including employing a short-term paid internship, improvements to online disability access, website updates including an e-commerce portal and supporting resources for our studio participants and exhibiting practitioners.

Erin Robinson – Erin Robinson is a project-driven creative whose practice is grounded in curation and art criticism. Her background comes from production, with years of experience managing ARI’s and working with others to create inclusive events with energetic atmospheres. This year, Erin has been working predominantly on writing and producing a collaborative art show, with two essays already being printed. Her philosophy on art is deeply informed by her exploration of appetite; how hungry some of us are for art experiences, and researching what kind of art leaves the contemporary audience satisfied. The Micro Grant will assist Erin in executing the collaborative show the way that it was anticipated to be held before the pandemic affected the industry in the recent months.

Lismore Theatre Company – Lismore Theatre Company is a not-for-profit community theatre organisation which has been providing theatrical entertainment to the local district for over 50 years. It is home is the small and intimate Rochdale Theatre which houses approximately 90 people and promotes and encourages local writers, performers and directors and provides a unique theatrical space for community theatre. The Micro Grant will assist digital production costs to reschedule the upcoming 2022 show

Michael Philp – Michael Philp is a contemporary Aboriginal artist from the Tweed Caldera. With a signature minimalist style, Philps’ tells the story of his people from a current perspective. His work explores themes around identity, connection to land and to his people along with his own personal memories of family history, within the Tweed community. The Micro Grant will assist with the research for and development of a new body of work.

Murwillumbah Theatre Company Inc – Murwillumbah Theatre Company Inc. is a not-for-profit, community based theatre company that has been bringing theatre to the Tweed region for over 35 years. The Micro Grant will assist Murwillumbah Theatre Company Inc. in importing a travelling production of “Beep” by Windmill Theatre. This playful, interactive production is aimed at 2 – 7 years and introduces the theme of accepting difference and fitting in to a new society.

Rochelle Summerfield – Rochelle Summerfield has extensive experience in mark-making and is inspired by the rivers and habitat where she lives in the Clarence Vallery. The Micro Grant will assist Rochelle to produce, develop and launch an online drawing program for the local and wider creative community.

Rubyrose Bancroft – Rubyrose Bancroft is a Bundjalung ceramic artist from Northern NSW. The Micro Grant will assist with the purchase of a kiln, firing supplies and clay to produce a new ceramic series for exhibition in 2022. Rubyrose will explore the many different aspects of firing ceramic works, the chemistry of glazes, the patience’s of firings and the surprises of experiments.

Small Time Studio – Small Time Studio is a studio space for practicing artists Zev Tropp, Josh Gooley, Babette Robertson, and Emily De Matteis. The space operates concurrently as a studio space and as a pop up exhibition space for local and emerging artists. Small Time Studio has been operating as a studio and exhibition space for just under a year, and has hosted many local artists for group and solo exhibitions. Small Time Studio is a free to use exhibition space, with an aim to provide a platform for contemporary arts practices in the Northern Rivers, encouraging the exploration and experimentation of mediums; installation, sound, video and performance, free from commercial restraints. The Micro Grant will assist Small Time Studio with lighting upgrades and in delivering digital and virtual exhibitions as a way to combat pandemic restrictions and keep the arts scene alive.

William Walker – William Walker is a Bundjalung artist from Wahlubal Country, West of the range, Tabulam now living in Lismore. Walker has been painting contemporary landscapes for over 30 years, painting a strong connection to his homelands, creating landscapes with birds, animals and native plants. The Micro Grant will assist with the research for and development of a new body of work.

Image | Nothingness but Shining exhibition by Michael Donnelly and Maggie Schreiber at Byron School of Art (2020 Micro Grants recipient).