The Sabbatical for Artistic Research Grant is one of Arts Council Malta’s tools to enable individuals to engage in artistic research which is practice-based or practice-led and aimed towards developing and exploring new ideas, methodologies, materials, and techniques towards further artistic development. This grant fulfils the Council’s Education and Development action (Strategy2025) to invest in research and creativity by introducing a sabbatical grant for artists and practitioners. Furthermore, the grant fulfils several strategic priorities outlined by the Council in the Strategy2025 document, namely:

• Nurturing creative potential and supporting development by encouraging creatives to engage in practice-based research and investigation;
• Investing in artistic excellence by encouraging levels of creative risk, experimentation, and active engagement of artists, as well as identifying talent and encouraging its development;
• Fostering artistic collaborations and partnerships for the development of the local artistic scene;
• Expanding opportunities for career pathways in the arts;
• Investing in twenty-first-century skills.

The grant forms part of Arts Council Malta’s funding schemes which aim to invest in exploratory projects that allow creative professionals to investigate aspects related to their artistic practice, explore and test their work, engage with new methods and technologies, conduct research, collaborate with creatives and relevant professionals, and develop their ideas further. Applications submitted may form part of the initial phase of a wider project/body of work or can be self-contained.

The objective of the scheme is to support research in the cultural and creative sectors, as per the National Cultural Policy 2021. As stated in the NCP 2021, artists working professionally in the sector may find it financially challenging to engage exclusively in artistic research for a significant period of time without compromising their income and financial commitments. The Council firmly believes in the importance of artistic research and the need for artists to renew and reflect on their practice. The initiative will support freelance creative practitioners who wish to take a sabbatical period of one year by providing an income and following agreed-upon outcomes and objectives.

The aims of the grant follow those of the Vienna Declaration on Artistic Research to support the expansion of knowledge and understanding of artistic research.

Applicants may choose to focus on one or more of these areas within their projects:

- Exploratory research adopting innovative or untested approaches in the conception, creation, and development of artistic work;
- Research into digital technologies and AI and how these inform contemporary artistic practices;
- Experimenting with innovative methods of community-led artistic engagement.

The sabbatical year needs to be planned as a full-time artistic research activity on a 40-hour weekly basis. The sabbatical will include a monthly meeting with a mentor assigned by Arts Council Malta. At the end of the sabbatical period, the grant participants will have the opportunity to present their project and findings through an event aimed at sharing the insights that emerge from the artistic research.

Who can apply? 

The scheme may focus on creative and/or practice-based artistic research, led by a creative practitioner. This scheme also encourages community-based research projects. The grant is open to creative practitioners/individual artists who are full-time self-employed.


The deadline to apply is Tuesday 6 June 2023 at noon. Late applicantions cannot be accepted. 


Click here to download guidelines and download application template. 

Click here to download Access Support Top-up guidelines. 

Applicants are required to register a new profile as from January 2021. 

Apply here.   


Applications Deadline: 6th June 2023

Ranking Order

Applicant: Kristina Borg

Reference number: SAR06-23-2613

Project Title: In search of a long-term sustainable vision for YOU ARE WHAT YOU BUY

Amount awarded: €25,000

This sabbatical plan aims to explore a long-term sustainable vision for the project YOU ARE WHAT YOU BUY (YAWYB). Through research and creative practice, YAWYB provokes current issues of production, shopping and consumption, offering alternative artistic and socio-economic experiences. Since its inception 10 years ago, the project created three editions. At this stage, the project requires to assess what has been achieved to date, before it proceeds further. It is clear that the most recent edition of the project – YAWYB - Reap what you sow – focusing on local food community economies, has potential to continue long-term. The research will analyse how it can be transferred into a long-term, sustainable postcapitalist community economies practice, while equipping the project artist with further theoretical knowledge and practical skills. This will be achieved through literature-based research, mentoring and consultation, exploratory on-site visits locally and abroad, and by participating in conferences and workshops/seminars.


Applicant: Margerita Pulè

Reference number: SAR09-23-2622

Project Title: And We Were Able To Breathe | Researching curatorial methodologies outside of traditional exhibition contexts

Amount awarded: €25,000

And We Were Able To Breathe will work towards a meaningful curatorial methodology which seeks new ways to think through the diverse relationships between curator, artist, artwork, space, audiences and society, and which imagines the role of the curator as more akin to facilitator, observer and bringer-together, rather than exhibition-maker. As conversations across many societies and channels become more polarised, artistic intervention outside of the exhibition context may have the potential to instil more meaningful and thoughtful conversation into these debates. Through a series of small interventions in spaces outside of the traditional exhibition-space, this project will research to what extent (if at all) these conversations can be inspired and influenced by artistic intervention. The research question is: How can a nomadic art space and a critical, experimental curatorial project foster civic participation and work towards unbiased and non-combative communities by bridging the gap between the creative process and audience-communities?

Applicant: Anna Calleja

Reference number: SAR05-23-2613

Project Title: AI: Archive of Iconography

Amount awarded: €25,000

In an era where individuals are increasingly relying on digital platforms to capture and store memories, the research highlights the importance of critically examining the role of technology in shaping our relationship with ourselves and the past. The research aims to understand how the architecture of digital/physical archives shapes our identities through the incorporation of AI and experimental methodology into artistic practice. This research also aims to explore love and grief, the impact of social media and algorithms on identity formation, and the loneliness of memories shaped by loss. Research methodologies include delving into personal archives, engaging with a curated reading list, incorporating AI into the painting process, improving the beneficiary’s printmaking skills through a residency programme in Belgium, embracing an interdisciplinary approach and creating a body of artwork. Research methods also include conducting interviews and workshops to engage the public in discussions about loss, memory, and identity. 

Applicant: Matt Stroud

Reference number: SAR04-23-2606

Project Title: Ħarrafli - Visual Development of Maltese Folklore

Amount awarded: €24,758

Ħarrafli is a research and development project focused on an in-depth investigation into Maltese folklore as a basis for developing contemporary illustrative designs of those folktales and characters. The end result of the project would be a large document, sometimes referred to as a production bible, filled with character designs, narrative illustrations, sketches and details presented as an interwoven mythology. The project aims to give young audiences an accessible window into this aspect of Maltese heritage. Different storytellers from different creative disciplines will be approached in order to collaborate to tell new stories about these characters and settings. They will share the same basic contemporary aesthetics, told through different mediums, such as books, animation and theatre productions.