Louis Johnson New Writer's Bursary 2021

The annual Louis Johnson New Writer's Bursary provides a stipend that enables a published writer or playwright at an early stage of their career to create a new work.

Artforms funded:

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Funding rounds

Opening dates:
Closing dates:
Notification dates:
Round 1
22 Feb 2021
26 Mar 2021, 1pm
16 Apr 2021

1. Check your eligibility

Who can apply

  • Individuals who are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.
  • To apply to the Ngā toi Māori funding pool:
    • individuals must be Tangata Whenua Māori or your proposed project must be managed or directed by Māori
  • To apply to the Pacific arts funding pool:
    • you must be a New Zealand citizen or New Zealand permanent resident
    • your project must align to our Pacific Arts Strategy, and Kaupapa Pasifika must be evident in the practice of the project
    • non-Pacific individuals are eligible, but the project must deliver outcomes to Pacific art and artists.

Eligibility specific to the Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary 2021

You must be a writer at an early stage of your career. You must also meet the requirements above, and the track record requirements below.

Project timing

Your project, or the stage of it for which you are seeking funding, must:

  • start after 16 April 2021
  • be completed by 16 July 2022.

Benefits and track record

To be eligible for Creative New Zealand funding:

  • Your project or activities must directly benefit New Zealand arts, artists or practitioners.
  • You must have a track record of experience and success — this means you must have:
    • recognition from peers or experts
    • achieved a degree of critical or sales success
    • specialised training or practical experience.

Your literature track record

For a writer of literature, success means having had published at least one work that received a degree of critical or sales success. This does not include work created as part of a course of study.

If you don't have the track record we're looking for, you may be able to get funding through the Creative Communities Scheme

How often you can apply

The Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary is part of the Arts Grants programme, and the guidelines for Arts Grants apply.

  • You can apply once in an Arts Grants round.
  • You can apply up to two times in total through the Arts Grants programme (which includes the Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary, Toi Tipu Toi Rea Fund, Tup Lang Choreographic Award and Todd New Writer’s Bursary) in the financial year 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.
  • Only one application can be submitted per round (two in total across all of the rounds).
  • Each of the two applications must be for a different project.
  • Note that if you are eligible and are applying to Annual Arts Grants, you cannot make an application to Arts Grants for rounds 1–3 between (3 August – 13 November).

Reapplying for the same project

You can request to resubmit a project you've had declined in a past funding opportunity. Be aware that there are strict criteria to meet, and this is at the discretion of Creative New Zealand. For more information see our Funding Guidelines – Reapplying for a previously declined project

Other Creative New Zealand funding

  • Your project, project phase or programme of activity must not have received prior funding from any of our funding programmes or initiatives, including the Creative Communities Scheme.  

  • Organisations in the Toi Uru Kahikatea or Toi Tōtara Haemata investment programmes are not eligible to apply.

  • Does your project involve organisations in our Toi Uru Kahikatea or Toi Tōtara Haemata investment programmes? Do you intend to partner with, or present at one of these organisations? If so, you must supply a letter from them that outlines their contribution to the project.

Breaches of agreements

We cannot consider an application if you, your organisation, or key members of your project team are in breach of the conditions of a current funding agreement, which includes missing the deadline for reporting on a previous grant or other funding contracts.

For more information see our Funding guidelines – breaches of agreement

2. See what's funded


The Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary 2021 provides a stipend to enable an emerging writer to create a new work. It is offered as part of Creative New Zealand’s Arts Grants programme.

What we fund

Applications can be to write a work of any genre other than those listed in the section further below, called ‘What we don’t fund’.

Previous recipients

See all previous recipients of the Bursary

Arts Grants Programme Purposes

The Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary is part of Creative New Zealand’s Arts Grants programme. The programme offers short-term project funding to New Zealand artists, arts practitioners and arts organisations (including groups and collectives) that will enable the following:

  • More sustainable careers for individual artists and arts practitioners
  • Development of arts practice
  • Innovation in New Zealand arts
  • Opportunities for diverse communities to access and participate in high-quality arts.

We need to know how your project will contribute to the programme purposes. You need to tell us in your application how your project will deliver to one or more of the programme’s purposes.

For more information see our Funding guidelines - Arts Grants programme purposes

Note: We receive many more applications that meet our criteria than we have the resources to fund. On average we are currently funding 20-30% of Arts Grants projects across the General, Māori and Pacific funding pools, which means approximately 40 projects are successful within a round of 200 applications. Generally only applications that exceed against our assessment criteria are successful.

Special guidance

Limited applications in funding rounds

To manage the significant demand for funding and the available funds, and to ensure quick decisions, we have introduced an application limit. We can only process the first 200 applications submitted for each Arts Grants round (a total of 1,600 applications can be submitted across all eight rounds, an increase on our previous annual total). Once 200 applications have been submitted, or the closing date has been reached, the round will close to any further submissions. If you have an unsubmitted application in the portal when the round closes, you will still be able to access it and copy any relevant sections of it into a new application to a new round. See the opening dates under Make an application

COVID-19 Alert Levels

When applying, you will need to ensure your project will be possible within the government alert level current at the time of notification. We suggest you also describe any potential changes you might make if the alert level is lower or higher when we are making our decision (just prior to the round notification date published in the funding calendar).

We will also continue to comply with government advisories (including alert levels) and/or border controls. For this reason, when making funding decisions, we may decline a programme or project if it is not viable at the time of notification, regardless of when the project is planned to take place.

International Activity

Funding is available to support artists and practitioners to engage in a variety of international activity. Make sure you read the updated international activity guidelines before submitting an application.

We anticipate that the majority of activity involving an artist or practitioner participating overseas will occur virtually for much of this year. If your project requires international travel you will need to follow official travel advice. You and your international partners should carefully consider the additional risks of travel. 

You can only include international travel in your application if the government travel advisory permits it at the time of application. We will not accept the cost of quarantining or managed isolation as eligible costs.

If advisory or border control information changes during the period between submission and decision, Creative New Zealand reserves the right to exercise discretion and/or comply with government advisories and/or border controls.

Creative New Zealand strategic outcomes

As well as achieving one or more of the programme purposes above, you also need to specify which of Creative New Zealand’s strategic outcomes your activity or project aligns with. We are focused on achieving these long-term goals or strategic outcomes to develop a strong and dynamic arts environment.

They are:

  • New Zealanders participate in the arts.
  • High-quality New Zealand art is developed.
  • New Zealanders experience high-quality arts.
  • New Zealand arts gain international success.
  • New Zealand’s arts sector is resilient.

For more information see our Funding guidelines - strategic outcomes

Aligning with our Māori Arts and Pacific Arts strategies

The purposes of the Arts Grants programme align with the features of our Investment Strategy Te Ara Whakamua, our Māori Arts Strategy Te Hā o ngā Toi and our Pacific Arts Strategy. These strategies may be useful in helping you explain the purpose of your project or activity.

See more about our strategies in our funding guidelines about our Māori Arts Strategy Te Hā o ngā Toi and our Pacific Arts Strategy

Read our Investment Strategy Te Ara Whakamua


Applications to this opportunity should adopt a fair remuneration approach within application budgets. For more information see our Funding guidelines - remuneration

What we don’t fund

Creative New Zealand literature funding is not available for research or writing that:

  • is funded by other government agencies – for example, film, radio and television scripts; and writing and research projects supported by the History Research Trust
  • is part of an education course – for example, textbooks and other works created for primary, secondary or tertiary educational purposes; academic theses or coursework undertaken as part of any tertiary education programme, including coursework in creative writing
  • is not what we consider to be literature. We don't consider the following to be literature:
    • instruction manuals
    • guidebooks
    • phrasebooks
    • do-it-yourself and how-to books (including travel guides, gardening books, and recipe books)
    • bibliographies
    • dictionaries
    • encyclopedias and professional reference works
    • newsletters
    • hymn books
    • publisher catalogues.

For more information see our Funding guidelines – what we don’t fund

Email Funding Services if you have further questions.

3. Make an application

Register or Log in

How to apply​

  1. Register or log in to the portal to start your application for the Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary 2021. Note: If the funding round you want to apply to is not open yet, prepare by viewing the application form preview (pdf 800KB)
  2. Select ‘Arts Grants Round 6’, which opens on 22 February 2021. Important; The Todd New Writer’s Bursary will only be offered in Arts Grants Round 6 and, to indicate you would like to be considered for this Bursary, include ‘Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary 2021’ in your project title or description. Note that the funding round has a maximum of 200 applications that can be submitted (see point 8 below):
  3. Read the Funding guidelines
  4. Prepare a budget. Read and watch videos about budgets at Funding guidelines – standard project budget template
  5. Gather support material. Read the Funding guidelines - support material
  6. Decide whether you want your application assessed in the General arts, Ngā Toi Māori or Pacific arts funding pools. Read the Funding guidelines – Arts Grants funding types for information to help you choose.
  7. Complete each question in the portal application form.
  8. Submit your application online by 1pm on the closing date (earlier if you can). If the maximum 200 applications have already been reached, you won’t have the option to submit your application but you will be able to cut and paste your material into a new application for another round (already open or when it opens).


4. Assessing applications

What we assess your application on

External peer assessors will assess your application using the following criteria.


Is it a strong idea? We look for the following indicators:

  • The artistic aims are clearly expressed.
  • The idea is compelling.
  • The artistic outcome and/or participant experience is likely to be high quality.


Can it be achieved? We look for the following indicators:

  • The process to achieve the idea is realistic and well planned.
  • The budget is thorough and accurate and considers fair remuneration for artists and practitioners.
  • The people involved have sufficient experience to deliver this project.

Strategic fit

Does it deliver to Creative New Zealand outcomes? We look for the following indicators:

  • The project delivers to the selected strategic outcome.
  • The project delivers to the selected Arts Grants programme purpose/s.

Māori and Pacific Arts assessment

In addition to the above you can have your project assessed as Ngā toi Māori or Pacific arts. 

Applications to the Ngā toi Māori or Pacific arts funding pools will also be assessed on:

Creative New Zealand strategic outcomes and Arts Grants programme purposes

All activity you are seeking funding for must align with both Creative New Zealand’s strategic outcomes and the programme purpose.

In your application you must choose one of these Creative New Zealand strategic outcomes to be assessed on:

  • New Zealanders participate in the arts.
  • High-quality New Zealand art is developed.
  • New Zealanders experience high-quality arts.
  • New Zealand arts gain international success.
  • New Zealand’s arts sector is resilient.

See our Funding guidelines - Strategic Outcomes for more information.

You must also choose one or more of these Arts Grants programme purposes to be assessed on and tell us how your project will achieve it:

  • More sustainable careers for individual artists.
  • The development of arts practice.
  • Innovation in New Zealand arts.
  • Opportunities for diverse communities to access and participate in high-quality arts experiences.

Go to section 2, ‘See what’s funded’, for information about programme purposes, international travel and aligning your project with our Māori Arts and Pacific Arts strategies.

Scoring your application

Our assessors use the following assessment scale for Idea and Viability:

7 – Excellent – Exceeds all indicators
6 – Very Good – Satisfies all indicators and exceeds in two
5 – Good – Satisfies all indicators and exceeds in one
4 – Acceptable – Satisfies all indicators
3 – Minor reservations – Satisfies two indicators only
2 – Major reservations – Satisfies one indicator only
1 – Unacceptable – Does not meet the indicators

The following scale is used to score each indicator in Strategic Fit, Mātauranga Māori and Kaupapa Pasifika:

3 - Outstanding - Exceeds the indicator
2 - Good - Satisfies the indicator
1 - Poor - Does not meet the indicator

How we assess your application

Peer assessment is critical to Creative New Zealand’s decision-making process for funding, with external peer assessors using their knowledge and expertise to provide independent and impartial advice.

Two external peer assessors will assess your application, using the assessment criteria and assessment scale listed above, and resulting in a total possible score per assessor of 20 (General Arts) or 23 (Ngā toi Māori and Pacific Arts funding pools, reflecting the points for the additional criteria).

Following assessment, assessment panels will be convened for each round, providing an important opportunity for our peer assessors to discuss the collective merits of projects within the funding round.

This panel will have representation across artforms and will consist of external peer assessors who have assessed the applications being discussed. The panel will make recommendations for funding by coming to a consensus at the meeting. Creative New Zealand staff will provide advice where required.

After the panel meeting, Creative New Zealand holds an internal moderation meeting, without assessors present. At this meeting staff consider the assessment scores, commentary and ranked order, as well as whether the range of recommended projects will meet the purposes of the programme and whether there are any gaps in achieving our strategic outcomes. On occasion the moderation group’s final recommendations may differ from those made by the panel (for example, if one artform or community is considerably under-represented).

The moderation group makes final recommendations to Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager for Arts Development Services, who makes the final decision of which applications will receive funding.

Who are our External Peer Assessors

We have a large number of external peer assessors, assessing a range of applications to our funding programmes and initiatives. They are selected based on their knowledge and experience in an artform and represent the diversity of the artists and arts organisations who apply for funding. We have a number of Māori and Pasifika assessors who assess applications to our Ngā toi Māori and Pacific arts funding pools or artforms.

You can nominate peer assessors – information and nomination form below:

Peer Assessor nomination form (doc 167KB)

Peer Assessor terms and conditions (pdf 259KB)

For more information about the assessment process and criteria see our Funding guidelines - assessment

5. Notification of results

We will email everyone their result on Friday 16 April 2021.

We also list successful grant applicants on Who got funded

If you are successful we will also email you about:

  • your funding agreement
  • payment schedule
  • reporting requirements.

Note that we are expecting high levels of demand for Arts Grants and, unfortunately will not be able to provide individualised feedback on all applications.

6. On completion

A project completion report is required within 12 weeks of the project end date. To be considered for further funding, your report needs to be submitted on time.

Login to report online

7. Who to contact

For more information or advice email Funding Services