Applying for art grants in Malaysia

Applying for art grants in Malaysia

Malaysian art grant providers are looking to support the creative you. If you have an art project that qualifies, take this chance to apply for funds to realise your artistic vision.

By Tho Mun Yi

Let us take a dive in and find out more about the vision, objectives, goals, successful recipients of the funds, and what these Malaysian grant providers are looking for.

Useful Tips While Applying for a Grant

Strictly adhere to the guidelines of the grant. Learn more about the organisation and the projects that received funding in the past. Identify if there are patterns and highlight parts of your project that might appeal to the fund providers.

Present your content in a way that is easy to read. Make effective use of headings, paragraphs, bullet points, and tables.

  • Headings are great to introduce a new subject
  • Paragraphs describe the subject
  • Bullet points list items clearly
  • Tables help readers quickly identify similar and different information

Refrain from using jargon. Keep in mind that your intention is for the person reading your proposal to understand what is written. Order your information by separating the conceptual (your inspiration, ideology, and goals) from the practical (logistics, process, timeline). Details of your project like how you will get it done are essential in your written proposal.

If the funds you need for the entire project are more than the grant amount offered, break down the funding you need into parts and then state the parts you are applying to get funded. Do not turn your project into something you do not want just to get the grant. Also, do not try to fit your project into a budget that is too small for what you actually need, as this will be glaringly noticeable on paper.

Malaysian artist Sharon Chin’s blog post provides a valuable reference for writing a concrete proposal.

Here are some notable art grant providers in Malaysia:


The Cultural Economy Development Agency (CENDANA) is an initiative by the Malaysian government to build a vibrant, sustainable, and ambitious cultural economy for Malaysia. CENDANA’s three key focus sectors are performing arts, visual arts, and independent music. CENDANA’s funding programmes are uniquely designed to increase the quality and broaden the opportunities for Malaysian works.

Funding Cycle
Application Deadline
Maximum Funding
Once a year or twice a year depending on the fund
Varies depending on the fund
Individuals, collectives, or organisations, depending on the terms of the programme
Varies per programme; generally between RM15,000 to RM35,000 for individuals or RM150,000 for arts organisations

CENDANA may introduce new funds, or existing funds may differ due to COVID-19. CENDANA’s website provides the latest fund list and comprehensive guides on the respective programmes’ application process. One of the 2020 recipients of the Create Now Funding Programme is Syarifah Nadhirah, with an illustrated series titled “Mapping Indigeneity”.

Krishen Jit Astro Fund

Conceived to encourage and support experimental creative work in Malaysia, the Krishen Jit Fund was established in commemoration of the late Dato’ Krishen Jit. One of the fund’s main goals is to honour original Malaysian art across multiple disciplines to pursue innovative modes of expression. The Five Arts Centre administers the fund.

Over the past 15 years, the fund has supported over 64 grantees. The fund, supported by ASTRO and Creador Foundation in 2020, gives out grants for the following:

  • Workshops
  • Attachments/residencies
  • Experimental productions
  • Research and documentation
  • Writing
  • Creating new work in music, dance, theatre, writing, film, visual/performance art
  • Others
Funding Cycle
Application Deadline
Maximum Funding
Once a year
All arts practitioners in Malaysia

Applicants can download the application form and apply through the Five Arts Centre website.

One of the four grantees for 2020 is Catriona Maddocks for Contemporary Indigenous Woven Art, utilising QR codes and curated digital libraries.

Yayasan Hasanah Grants

Yayasan Hasanah is a foundation by Khazanah Nasional. The foundation works closely with ministries and public sector agencies, not forgetting grassroots and non-profit organisations, to deliver policies and programmes that support Malaysians’ overall social well-being. The five focus areas of the grants include:

  • Education
  • Community development
  • Environment
  • Arts and public spaces
  • Knowledge
Funding Cycle
Application Deadline
Maximum Funding
Once a year
Companies or societies with at least two years’ registration

In line with the broader vision and mission of Khazanah Nasional, Yayasan Hasanah’s requirements for projects include:

  • Active efforts to drive positive change in the community
  • Projects with measurable results
  • Replicable or scalable ideas and initiatives
  • Long-term thinking and planning
  • A potential voice in policymaking

In 2020, the arts-ED Community-Engaged Arts Training: Building Capacity, Fostering Community was made possible by collaborating with Yayasan Hasanah.

The Hasanah Grant page provides a detailed walkthrough of the grant application process and the related deadlines.

Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) Sponsorships

YSD sponsors deserving organisations that share the same dedication towards the five pillars consisting of the following:

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Community and Health
  • Sports
  • Arts and Culture

Since 2009, YSD has committed more than RM27 million supporting over 300 artists and 29 arts festivals nationwide.

Funding Cycle
Application Deadline
Maximum Funding
Four times a year
First month of each quarter
Charity bodies registered with the Registry of Societies Malaysia or Companies Commission of Malaysia
Not stated

One of their 2019 grantees, iNYALA, is Malaysia’s first interactive light art exhibition.

YSD’s website provides detailed information on the application process whilst their Arts and Culture page emphasises their focus areas for Arts and Culture projects. This includes access, education, encouragement, empowerment, and sustainability. 

Documents to Prepare if Applying as an Individual

CENDANA and the Krishen Jit Astro Fund provide grants for individuals. Prepare clear, concise, and complete documentation with a reasonable budget request not exceeding the maximum funding provided. The documents you will be required to submit are as follows:

  • Your artist statement and personal profile
  • Project proposal including visual ideas, schematic drawings, etc. relevant to the funding programmes
  • A detailed budget, for eligible costs, refer to the respective CENDANA or the Krishen Jit Astro Fund websites
  • Photocopy of your MyKad
  • Past work and portfolio
  • Collaborator’s information and portfolio, if any
Documents to Prepare if Applying as an Organisation

CENDANA’s Arts Organisation Resilience Funding Programme, Yayasan Hasanah, and YSD welcome qualified organisations to apply for their respective grants. The documents your organisation will need to submit are as follows:

  • Registration certificate from Registrar of Companies (ROC), Registrar of Societies (ROS), or the Trustees (Incorporation) Act 1952
  • Financial statements for the last 2 to 3 years that have been audited by professional auditors
  • Brief background introduction of the organisation or the organisation’s profile
  • Curriculum Vitae of the Project Manager and other key individuals involved in the project
  • Itemised Budget for the project
  • Relevant quotations, invoices, receipts, etc. to support figures stated in the itemised budget

These funding initiatives help you realise your artistic aspirations or assist organisations to weather tough times. Malaysian art grants are like buses. If you miss one, there is always another one coming.

Cover image by goodstudiominsk on Freepik.

Tho Mun Yi is a Penang-based technical writer with a creative writing side hustle.