Programmes // ACT DevelopmeNt Grant

The ACT Development Programme is the Arts & Culture Trust’s flagship programme and has been in existence since 1994. In 2017, the Development Programme was changed to comprise of discipline-specific grants and postgraduate bursaries. With support from the Nedbank Arts Affinity, the ACT Development Programme has supported more than 800 organisations and projects nationwide over the past 25 years- a contribution valued at more than R23 000 000 in total.


ACT Professional Development Grants are available to assist arts *professionals or professional organisations with artistic or professional development projects.

Funding cycles are discipline-specific and accept applications twice a year. We encourage applications for interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary work with the nominated discipline as a core component. We are interested in the ways that new media and new forms of arts are developing alongside well as how traditional arts are developing.

Previous, current and future ACT Professional Development Grants:

Visual Arts – open for applications April 2018 to May 2018

Dance – open for applications September 2018 to October 2018

Literature – open for applications April 2019 to May 2019

Theatre – open for applications November 2019 to January 2020

Music – open for applications May 2020 to July 2020

Established artists and organisations are eligible to apply for one of three R80 000 grants. Mid-level and emerging artists and organisations may apply for one of six R30 000 grants.

Established artists must have been working professionally for five or more years and have a proven track record of successful projects with budgets exceeding R50 000. Established organisations must have been in operation for three or more years and have a proven track record of successful projects with budgets exceeding R50 000.

Emerging and mid-level artists must have been working professionally for one or more years. Emerging and mid-level organisations range from newly established to well established working with small budget projects.

ACT Professional Development Grants selection criteria:

  • Artistic merit – 45% – Artistic merit is the most important criteria we consider when assessing a project
  • Innovative ideas – 25% – We would like to support projects which look at innovative ways of engaging with their media
  • Skills development 20% – Skills development of individual artists and within the organisation is seriously considered
  • Audience – 10% –Projects should reach a broad audience; those which reach underserved and historically disadvantaged audiences will be prioritised

Regrettably, we will not consider applications which are focussed primarily on social upliftment or providing opportunities to non-professionals.

Only South African nationals may apply and projects must take place in South Africa. Allocation of grants is at the discretion of the ACT Board of Trustees. The decision with regard to all applications for funding is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.

*Professional refers to practitioners who are working in the arts either full-time or part-time at a professional level.


ACT offers 10 bursaries per anum of R30 000 to South African students for postgraduate research (MA and PhD) studies in a creative arts subject or arts administration and management.

Applications open annually between in November.


Applying to the ACT Bursary Programme

The programme is open to all South African Nationals who will be studying for a postgraduate degree (excluding Honours) in a creative arts subject or arts administration.

List of required documents (Documents do not need to be certified but MUST be in PDF format)

  • Copy of South African Identity Document
  • Undergraduate Degree Certificate or Academic Transcript
  • Proof of application or acceptance to your prospective University Programme or proof of registration if you have already commenced your degree
  • Letter of Recommendation from someone working professionally in the arts industry or in your academic field.

Letter of Recommendation

Think carefully about who you would like to write your letter of recommendation. They should be a person of good standing as this will give weight to their recommendation. It must be someone who knows you well and has had the opportunity to observe your academic or professional work. Ideally, your working relationship should be current or of a recent date. Avoid asking someone you haven’t worked within the last 5 years.

Personal Motivation

The personal motivation has been divided into four questions you will need to answer. Take your time to answer each question thoughtfully. Think carefully about what you want to say and which points are most relevant to this application. Pay attention to the character limit as going over the limit will result in some of your words being cut (2000 character limit).

Think about:

  • What sets you apart from other candidates?
  • What experiences you can share which demonstrate your commitment and interests?
  • How your qualification will benefit you as an individual but also how will your research benefit others and contribute to your field of study?
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