Diasporas is created for, by and with diverse creatives as an artistic intervention to increase visibility, participation and equity in the arts towards a new arts ecology.  

More than a festival, Diasporas holds space for the interrogation and development of arts and cultural practice with diverse artists and communities. Diasporas is a springboard for building culture, connection and knowledge and a training ground for the next generation of producers, designers, technicians, and creatives. 

Diasporas will launch in 2021 with a series of commissions open to diverse creatives across Victoria.  

Through the Diasporas Commissions, MAV seeks to create opportunities for participation that uphold models of self-determination, by prioritising marginalised and under-represented lived experiences. 

Commissions are open to First Nations colleagues and friends as an act of solidarity in their struggle for sovereignty and self determination for collaborative projects with people of colour and solo works.

MAV has developed a smaller commission series under Diasporas for young, emerging creatives; Ahead of the Curve commissions.  

DIASPORAS Commissions Recipients 

We are thrilled to announce the 10 recipients of the Diasporas commissions who are ready to Disrupt, Ignite and Represent!

Diasporas is urgent work, answering the need for the critical gestures and rituals of deeply attached life, so long missed, so sorely needed. This is culture as challenge and cure in equal measure.

It is no platitude to say that every work offered for consideration had merit and passion — testimony to the depth and breadth of creative talent and ideas that reflect the majority world and the provocations of diaspora in contemporary Australia.

We were looking for work that stirred something: human, poignant, purposeful. Work that could be loud and soft, joyful and sorrowful, intellectual and embodied and then traverse the space between those binaries.

As a collective, it was exciting and exacting to test the process of selection and curation — what has emerged is a potent reminder that art, politics, history and the future remain in constant dialogue.
Eleanor Jackson, Diasporas Advisory Panel Member

To keep updated about all 10 Diasporas project, follow MAV’s social media on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

We were overwhelmed with incredible applications for Diasporas and we are sad that we couldn’t fund them all. We are looking forward to working with all applicants in our workshop program, to be announced soon.


Andy Butler is an artist, writer and curator. His writing on art and politics has been published to wide acclaim. In 2017 he participated in Footscray Community Art Centre’s Emerging Cultural Leaders program. He is acting artistic director of West Space, and sits on the board of Emerging Writers Festival.

Photo by Liminal Magazine.

Aseel Tayah is a Melbourne-based Palestinian artist, creative director and cultural leader who uses her practice to advocate for artists of colour, mothers, children and young people, “changing the world, one project at a time.” She has recently been described as “an unstoppable force in the Australian cultural landscape.”

Through the power of storytelling, Aseel’s artistic practice creates awareness and facilitates connection by humanising the experiences of people who have been displaced. As such, her work is embedded in the community and is often highly responsive to current issues.

During Refugee Week 2020, Aseel curated, produced and presented a series of live online discussion panels featuring national and international artists and cultural leaders. The series attracted more than 40,000 views and led to an invitation to participate in the inaugural TEDx Melbourne PluggedIn event where she was awarded Best Speaker.

As a creative director and installation artist, Aseel has a wide range of experience. International highlights include We Too Want To Play, the establishment of Palestine’s first network of toy libraries and Fingerprint of an Arab Girl, an annual event showcasing the talents and achievements of girls living under occupation. In Australia, collaborations include unique intercultural experiences such as Lullabies Under the Stars, an Arabic/First Nations work for children, and the participatory installation Bukjeh, exploring stories of home and being forced to leave it.

As a cultural leader, she has developed ongoing relationships with a variety of organisations including Multicultural Arts Victoria, Arts Centre Melbourne, Polyglot, Arts House, Arts Front, VMC, NGV, Federation Square, ASRC, RISE Refugee and numerous local councils and settlement organisations.

Although currently in lockdown, the unstoppable Aseel is facilitating a variety of projects from home including: Bukjehs of Hope, a collaboration with 15 artists to produce a video for families in Beirut affected by the recent explosion; an illustrated children’s book series called Stories from Home; an online cooking class bringing people together to cook, sing and tell stories; and volunteering with settlement services to support mothers who have recently arrived in Australia.

Aseel exemplifies the use of art and creativity to achieve social justice, and is renowned for her kindness, optimism and generosity. She also has an incredible singing voice which she uses to connect hearts and harvest hope.

Photo courtesy Aseel Tayah.

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer and arts producer. She is currently Chair of Peril Magazine and Producer of the Melbourne Poetry Map. She has formerly held roles as Editor in Chief of Peril Magazine, Board Member of Queensland Poetry Festival and Vice-Chair of The Stella Prize.

Photo courtesy Eleanor Jackson.

Jack Sheppard (Tagalaka Clan) is a mixed medium performer/storyteller. Their creations are inspired by multilayered narratives of Sovereign peoples. Jack attempts to identify and interrogate Ancestral, Inter-generational and inter-dimensional narratives that are relative to our lives. Focusing on the experiences of our Physical, Spiritual and Sub-conscious selves, Jack seeks to shed light in dark places, illuminating the uncomfortable.

Photo by James Henry.

Producer, artist, multi-instrumentalist and rapper, Joelistics (JoelMa) is recognised as a unique voice in the Australian music scene. In 2002 he founded seminal alt-rap group TZU, who built a solid reputation around their electric live performances and inventiveness in the studio across four albums, Position Correction (2004), Smiling At  Strangers (2005) Computer Love (2008) and Millions of Moments (2012). Along the way picking up nominations for the Australian Music Prize , a J Award and an APRA Award.

Under the moniker Joelistics’ his anticipated debut album Voyager arrived in 2011 and was nominated for an Age Music award. Written whilst traveling with a laptop between China, Mongolia and Europe, it opened up a new lane in Australian hiphop. The Age wrote,“Joelistics’ love of beat poetry takes his narratives and vistas to a level as vivid as any great Australian poet.” His second album Blue Volume was one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Top 20 albums of 2014. Rolling Stone described it as “a celebration and mourning of the current state of the world, voiced by a smart, incisive writer.”

In 2014, he co-wrote a piece of musical theatre In Between Two with James Mangohig exploring mixed race identity and family narratives interlaced with searing hiphop. IB2premieredat Darwin Festival (2014) and enjoyed seasons at Carriage Works for Sydney Festival (2015), Adelaide’s entertainment center for Oz Asia Festival (2017) and Arts Centre Melbourne for Melbourne Festival (2017).

Since 2015, Joel’s focus has been on producing and co-writing for other artists notably with internationally acclaimed group Haiku Hands 4 cowriting and providing production for their debut album as well as working closely with Mo’ju (AKA Mojo Juju) including providing production for the celebrated track Native Tongue which was nominated for an Aria award, an Age award and won the Triple J best film clip award (2018). In 2019 Joelistics collaborated with Mo’Ju again on the joint album Ghost Town under the name Mojo Juju x Joelistics, earning him the inaugural Music Victoria award for best producer in 2020.He has written for and collaborated with noted artists such as Tim Rogers, Emma Donovan,Ecca Vandal, Hermitude, Wil Wagner, Parvyn Singh and even Madonna amongst others.

In 2021, Joelistics is set to release an album of production based work and collaborative tracks under the name Joelistics Presents Film School. The album is a departure for Joelistics as vocalist and instead concentrates on eccentric production weaving beats and synths, 70’s Asian pop samples, psych-rock journey music and studio improvisations

Photo by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore.

Naomi is an independent producer born on Whadjuk Noongar country, residing in Naarm (Melbourne). She strives to nurture artists’ work and practices exploring alternative narratives, radical thought and deep connection. Centered on producing the work of contemporary, diverse and interdisciplinary artists her experience spans working for and amongst galleries, festivals and performance spaces. She has held producing roles for a number of arts institutions including APAM, Arts Centre Melbourne, Arts House, the Abbotsford Convent. Through her independent practice she aims to unearth honest and generous collaborations between artists, producers, curators and presenters and create pathways for new work creation.

Photo by Liminal Magazine.

Rani Pramesti (she/they) is a proud Peranakan-Hokkien-Javanese person living and creating on Kulin Country (Melbourne, Australia). As Rani P Collaborations, she inspires conversations, self-reflection and intercultural exchange through transformative storytelling experiences. Rani is also the Creative Strategist at Creatives of Colour: a research and design driven organisation that exists to uplift First Nations, Black and People of Colour creatives.

Photo by Helen Tran.

The Diasporas commissions will be awarded for: 

  • creative development alone (no presentation in 2022; possible presentation in 2023); 
  • creative development with presentation in 2022; or
  • presentation of new work (work that has already undergone a creative development) 

These categories above apply to all three tiers of commissions.
The three commission tiers are:
$50,000 (total pool $100,000)
Disrupt Project Commissions will be offered for projects that disrupt systems of power and apply innovative new processes to creative practice. Disrupt Project Commissions are for established professional creatives or groups of professional creatives with a minimum of five years of demonstrated professional practice working across any artform. Disrupt Project Commissions must involve collaboration with other creatives or non-creatives

$25,000 (total pool $75,000)

Ignite Project Commissions will be offered for projects that ignite new creative practice demonstrating experimentation and/or development of practice and artform. Ignite Project Commissions are for emerging or professional creatives with a minimum of two years of demonstrated professional practice across any artform. Ignite Project Commissions must involve collaboration with other creatives or non-creatives. 

$10,000 (total pool $50,000)

 Project Commissions 
will be offered for new projects or new developments of existing projects, that increase the visibility and representation of diverse creatives and their communities. Represent Project Commissions will be for creatives working across any artform at any level of practice, new, emerging or established. Represent Project Commissions can be solo or collaborative projects.


Never before has it been more important for diverse creatives to tell their own stories on their own terms.  

We choose art for its capacity to transformcritique and redefine power.   

We choose art to respond to threats of bigotry and intolerance in our pluralistic society.  

We choose art to reveal intersectional, intercultural, intergenerational knowledges. 

(Your submission will respond to this provocation as a whole or in part.) 


Applicants who: 

  • self-identify as First Nations, a Person of Colour, or Culturally or Linguistically Diverse;
  • live in Victoria with a current Victorian address; 
  • intend for the project to be presented in Victoria; 
  • identify as an emerging or established individual artist or group of artists; 
  • are able to provide links 1-3 examples of recent solo or collaborative work; and 
  • are able to meet the requirements stipulated by each commission tier. 

Submissions will open from 2 July 2021 and close on 1 September 2021, inviting artists to respond to the provocation above.

Applications will be assessed by an Advisory Group of cultural leaders (see below).

Projects that are awarded commissions will have the opportunity to participate in a series of workshops and mentoring sessions to explore the themes of voice, practice and process and assist in the development of project outcomes. 

Commissioned projects may be presented at any time during 2022, but must be completed by December 31st , 2022. We will work with you to identify the best time to present the work.

MAV reserves the first right of refusal for the presentation of the works at Diasporas 2022. 


Submissions Open 2 July 2021
Information Sessions 22 July + 29 July 2021
Submissions Closed 11.59pm 1 September 2021
Commissions Announced publicly 13 October 2021
Acquittals Due 31 December 2022

Given the extension of the lockdown in Melbourne, we’re EXTENDING THE SUBMISSION PERIOD TO 11.59PM on 1 SEPTEMBER, 2021.

Click here to download a preview of the form.
Note that you are only required to respond to questions relevant to the specific tiered commissions you are applying for.

Feel free to use this budget template or attach your own budget plan.

If you have any enquiries please contact Diasporas Creative Producer, James Emmanuel Mckinnon at james@mav.org.au

Diasporas is supported by Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne and the Australia Council for the Arts. 

MAV is delighted to be partnering with Arts Centre Melbourne for the presentation of the Diasporas platform. Although a statewide initiative, our home base will be Arts Centre Melbourne. This decision reflects an exciting dialogue and partnership that is evolving between our organisations to centre equity in our work as sector leaders. Our partnership interrogates and develops the work in cultural equity with Diasporas showcasing key outcomes over the next four years at Arts Centre Melbourne. We look forward to evolving our vision for Diasporas together. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my project have to be presented at the Arts Centre Melbourne?
No, your project does not need to be presented at the Arts Centre Melbourne and can occur anywhere in Victoria.

What additional support can I expect from MAV if my project is funded?
MAV is able to support artists to identify additional funding but cannot provide certainty of these additional funds. Your budget should reflect any additional funding required and how you propose to source it.

Can I have other sources of funding?
Yes, you can include other confirmed or proposed sources of funding as part of your budget.

Can I submit an application for multiple commission tiers?
You are not able to submit the same project to the different commission tiers. However, you are able to submit different projects in each of the different tiers.

Can I apply on behalf of an organisation?
No, only individuals and collectives can apply for funding. You may obtain a statement of support from a partner organisation. However this is not obligatory.

If my application is unsuccessful, will I receive feedback?
Yes, feedback will provided to all unsuccessful applications, if requested.

What are the obligations for awarded commissions?
MAV maintains the first right of refusal for presentation during the 2022 or 2023 Diasporas festivals. Artists must use the funds for the purpose that is intended and budgeted, and work ethically and within the law.

Supported by:

Image credit: Gracieuse Amah, TAKEBACK! 2021, photos by Deshani Berhardt