23 December
Photo by Ilnur Kalimullin on Unsplash

John Leslie Art Prize

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. 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. For more information see our website.


Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the John Leslie Art Prize (the Prize).

The Prize is organised by the Gippsland Art Gallery (the Gallery), based in regional Victoria. The Prize was inaugurated in 2000 and is named after John Leslie OBE (1919—2016). It celebrates Australian landscape paintings and is open to all artists who live and work in Australia. Artists can enter in landscape paintings that have been completed since 1 July 2018.

The deadline for submissions to this competition is Friday 20 March 2020.

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

Well done to the Gallery for having a generous first prize and dealing fairly with copyright and moral rights

The Prize has two categories. There is a $20,000 acquisitive prize (meaning the Gallery will get ownership of the artwork), and a non-acquisitive $1000 prize (meaning the artist will get their artwork back. It’s only eligible for artists living in a specified region of Gippsland.)

Finalists are chosen for exhibition at the Gallery and their works must be available for sale.

Copyright and Moral Rights

We are really pleased with the way the Gallery has dealt with copyright. Essentially, finalists must allow the Gallery to reproduce their artwork for two years only and only for the purpose of promoting the Prize. We like to see such licences – that is, limited in time and for the purpose of promoting a prize. However, it would be even more artist-friendly to stipulate this would be for ‘non-commercial’ purposes only, to rule out the Gallery using the artwork on merchandise for sale which promotes the Prize (while this may not be the Gallery’s intention, it is much better to be clear about it.). For clarity, it would be also good to spell out that it is a ‘non-exclusive’ licence, meaning the artist can license to other parties. We would also like to see an express term saying copyright remains with all entrants.

While all finalists, and not just the winners, are required to give this licence, we think it is reasonable and indeed a profile-raising opportunity for the finalists.

Turning to moral rights, under the law an artist has moral rights including the right to be credited for their artwork and for their artwork to be dealt with integrity (that is, no changes or treatment to the work which affects their artistic integrity). It is great that the Gallery has stated it will provide full attribution of the artists to accompany any reproductions of their artwork. Best practice would be to also include a positive statement that the Gallery will not make any changes to the works without first seeking permission (or at least not make any unreasonable changes without permission). 

Other comments

The Prize terms and conditions are silent on what happens should there be any damage to the artworks. It would be clearer, and fairer to artists, if the terms stated that the Gallery will insure the works while in the Gallery’s possession, custody or control. After all, the artists will not be able to control the safety of their artwork while on exhibition.

All finalists must agree to make their artwork available for sale, however it’s great to note that the Gallery is not charging a commission on any sales. It would be good if the terms also made clear that the artist will set the sale price. Further, the artworks are required to remain on display for the duration of the exhibition. The exhibition period is defined on the Prize webpage as being from 16 May to 26 July 2020, however this period is not defined within the terms and conditions. The Gallery also doesn’t stipulate how artists can collect their artworks following the end of the exhibition.

To conclude.

For a perfect 5 out of 5 rating, the Gallery could address the above issues. However overall, these are a great example of artist friendly terms, with a very generous first prize and a profile-raising opportunity, and the Gallery is to be commended.

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.