Meet the Judges – Advice from our Expert Panel

With less than a month to enter the Carol Lloyd Award, it’s time to really start thinking about your grant application and about how you plan to stand out in the eyes of our expert judging panel. If you haven’t already acquainted yourself with our judges, then you’ve come to the right place! We thought we’d briefly introduce them to you and offer some expert tips, so that you know who will be assessing your application, and how you can impress them. 😉

The Award panel consists of six industry professionals from varied backgrounds: from musos to managers, venue operators to educators. But while they may come from different areas, each of our judges shares a common passion for supporting emerging artists, cultivating the next generation of musicians and nurturing Queensland’s ever-expanding music industry. So without further ado, let’s meet the panel!


Katie Noonan (Musician & Queensland Music Festival Artistic Director)

Having won five ARIA Awards, recorded over a dozen albums and gone seven times platinum, Katie Noonan is known far and wide as one of Australia’s most revered musical talents. Rising to prominence as the songstress of indie-pop outfit george, Katie’s discography has since expanded to include jazz, classical, folk and electronic, all the while showcasing her inimitable songwriting and lyricism. Katie is also passionate about supporting the next generation of songwriters, particularly those that are female or living in regional areas. Establishing opportunities for emerging artists to flourish has been a central tenet of her legacy as Artistic Director of Queensland Music Festival. Katie’s advice to applicants is:

Meditate upon your vision for your project – what is it about you that is distinctly unique and like no one else? It’s also good to think deeply upon the why of what you do – for in that contemplation your true reason for being a musician should emerge clearly. All truly great artists are exceptionally unique – so be yourself as much as possible because that quality is what always stands the test of time, regardless of fads or reality tv shows!  Also please always balance your budget!! Unfortunately, no matter how brilliant your music may be, if you can’t balance a budget you won’t be eligible for funding!


Joc Curran (Venue Operator & Promoter)

Joc Curran owned and ran The Zoo – one of Brisbane’s longest running and most reputable venues – from 1992 until 2016. With over 24 years of experience operating venues and promoting events, she knows exactly what it takes to organise and sell a show.

Joc has built a legacy of nurturing emerging musical talent and fostering a sense of community amongst Brisbane musos, and her impact on Brisbane’s music scene is widely felt and long-lasting. She brings a unique and necessary level of insight to our judging panel, and has this advice for prospective applicants:

Make sure you attach your budget, we can only judge what we have before us, so double check your work before submitting please!



Leanne de Souza (Manager & Arts Advocate)

You probably already know Leanne from her stellar masterclass, or from our previous blog post outlining her top tips for writing a grant application. If not, we definitely suggest checking both out!

With 25 years experience as an entrepreneur, arts advocate, facilitator and artist manager, Leanne has immense insight into the music industry and how to forge a career within it. Leanne currently holds the Executive Director role for the Association of Artists Managers (AAM), is a Trustee of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and the Curatorial Advisor (Music) for the Museum of Brisbane. Most importantly perhaps, Leanne possesses an innate ability to recognise artistic potential, and a passion for cultivating Australia’s contemporary music scene. Leanne’s advice to applicants is: 

Find your ‘voice’ in writing your application. Write the truth of who you are, what you stand for and in your own words why the Carol Lloyd Award is the right opportunity for you and your music NOW.


Sean Sennett (Music & Song Writer)

Sean Sennett is a prolific music writer and songwriter. His work has been published in The Australian, Word and Rolling Stone (both in Australia and Internationally).

As the former owner and editor of Time Off Magazine for two decades, he conducted over 1500 interviews with unsigned artists and global stars alike. As a songwriter Sean has worked with Kate Ceberano, Steve Kilbey, David Bridie, Ross Wilson and more. As a musician, his work includes ‘Crashing the Same Car Twice’ – a ‘garage rock’ collaboration with Rob Hirst (Midnight Oil) – and ‘I Left My Heart in Highgate Hill’ – a ‘song cycle’ and ode to Brisbane featuring a host of female musicians including former Carol Lloyd Award finalists Sahara Beck and Sue Ray! Sean currently co-hosts a new music programme on ABC radio every Friday afternoon. Sean’s advice to applicants is:


To really have your application in order. Be involved with the writing of it. Submit your best material. Make sure your budget adds up and have a strategy of where you would like to take your career and let us know what you’ve done to get where you are so far!


John Willsteed (Musician, Sound Editor & Educator)

John Willsteed is an acclaimed Brisbane musician, most known for his involvement with the award-winning band Halfway and the iconic Go-Betweens. As a musician, John has always had a fascination with Brisbane’s musical history and a passion for the way these hometown stories are told. As a composer and sound editor, John has over 90 film and television credits and has won a number of Australian Film Institute awards. 

John is currently Senior Lecturer in Music at the Queensland University of Technology, where he continues a legacy of fostering Queensland’s next generation of musical talent. From his unique position, John advises applicants:

Show us what makes you different – the truest expression of your voice and experience. Use this as an opportunity to clearly paint a picture of where you have been, where you are and where this award can take you.


Annie Peterson (Musician, Producer & Arts Manager)

A recognized force within Queensland’s music scene, Annie Peterson’s credits most notably include Program Director of Woodford Folk Festival and the creator and producer of the iconic Women in Voice series, in which Carol Lloyd performed regularly. Annie is a champion of music and emerging musicians; whose work extends into early childhood learning – as Director of Rhapsodaisy Music School – and inclusive artistic programs for people living with disability or disadvantage – as Creative Programs Manager for Wesley Mission Qld – and she firmly believes in the power of music to transform lives. Annie’s advice to applicants is:

Please don’t waste time with flowery marketing or ‘govy’ grant speak.  This isn’t a test.  Speak only from the heart and give us your clear vision.  Give us your best recordings and let your art speak for itself.  We want to believe in you.  We want you to succeed!



So, now that you’ve met the judges and taken their advice on board, you should have all the information you need to craft a knock-out grant application that captures their attention and piques their interest. Remember – they’ll be looking for originality and creative potential above all else, so make sure that you allow for your artistic identity and vision to shine amongst all the formal requirements of a grant application. If you need any help with that, make sure you check out ‘Leanne de Souza’s top tips for an award-winning grant application’ or send us your questions at

Good luck – and get to it!

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