27 September
Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

2019 Ramsay Art Prize Competition Review


Arts Law regularly reviews the terms and conditions of competitions and rates them out of five stars. Our review looks broadly at the terms and conditions of a competition. In particular, we look closely at how a competition deals with an entrant’s copyright and moral rights, and consider this in light of the prize.  Entrants should always take into account the possible profile-raising which may result from being a finalist or winner.

By accepting the terms and conditions of a competition, entrants should be aware that they may be entering a legally binding contract.

For more information, see our free information sheet on competition conditions. Artists are welcome to contact Arts Law for legal advice on the terms of a competition. We also invite competition organisers to contact Arts Law for best practice assistance to make their terms and conditions fairer for artists.

Please note: Prior to February 2018, Arts Law’s rated out of five stars only the terms of a competition which dealt with copyright and moral rights using our previous rating systems. Arts Law’s competition reviews are now more holistic, such that our rating out of five stars now reflects a broad review of all the terms and conditions of the competition.


This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the 2019 Ramsay Art Prize Competition presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia (the Gallery).

The deadline for this competition is 14 December 2018 and entries are open to Australians under the age of 40.

Read the terms and conditions of this competition here.

Arts Law has rated this competition  4 out of 5 stars.

This is a biennial national art competition is described on its website as “supporting contemporary Australian artists under 40… working in any medium“.

There are two cash prizes. Firstly, the Ramsay Art Prize – a very generous acquisitive cash prize of $100,000 (the winning work will be acquired in the Gallery’s collection). Secondly, there is the non-acquisitive People’s Choice Prize of $15,000 chosen by a public vote.

Entrants selected as finalists must make their works available for loan display at the Gallery between  February to October 2019. It is great that the Gallery is responsible for freight and installation etc and will insure the work for the loan period. (The insurance is described as “nail to nail” –  we are not sure what that means.)  All works selected as finalists will be exhibited in Gallery from 25 May to 25 August 2019.

Finalists must also make themselves and their works available for marketing and media in relation to the promotion of the prize and the exhibition. It would be better if it were stated that finalists only had to make themselves available to the extent that it is reasonable to do so, and further that it will be at the Gallery’s expense.

So how is copyright dealt with?

Firstly, it is expressly stated that the winners retain copyright, which is excellent.

Secondly, all entrants must grant the Gallery (and its partners and sponsors) a royalty free licence to use their works forever, for certain prize related purposes and anything incidental.  The licence is described as follows: “perpetual, fee-free, non-exclusive licence to reproduce the submitted work in material form, to photograph, publish and/or communicate it to the public, for the following prize-related purposes: a) marketing, publicity, educational, archival and publication uses for the Gallery, the prize and its exhibition in all media, including but not limited to electronic/digital, broadcasting and print media; and. b) anything incidental to such purposes.” It is good that this is a non-exclusive licence for limited purposes. As such, the artists are free to license their works elsewhere. However, we would prefer it be expressly stated that the Gallery’s use will only be for ‘non-commercial purposes’, and ideally limited in time (e.g. five years). Further, we would prefer the licence to be required from winners and finalists, rather than from all entrants. After all, what do non-finalists get in return for granting this licence? Perhaps profile-raising. If the Gallery only intends to use finalists’ works, it should amend the terms to say so.

In terms of moral rights, the Gallery promises to attribute the artist, however only “where reasonable”. It would be better if this went further to expressly state that the Gallery will always attribute when works are on display and when reproduced on its website, and otherwise unless unreasonable. There should also be a term stating no changes will be made to the works when they are used, without the artist’s prior consent.

This competition offers a fantastic first prize and overall the terms and conditions are pretty good. Artists need to consider, in the event they are not a finalist, whether they are happy to allow the Gallery to use their works indefinitely. In weighing that up, artists should consider any possible profile-raising from the Gallery using their work.

For a perfect rating the terms could be improved in the ways outlined above.

You can lodge a query with us here if you would like to obtain advice from Arts Law about this competition.

Further Information

Please email us at [email protected] to tell us about any competitions or prizes you think we should check. 

See more about Arts Law's campaign to improve competition terms and conditions in the Prizes and Competitions section.