25 November

PRIZE REVIEW: 2021 Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award


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 consider 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. 


This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the Portrait of a Senior Territorian Award in the Northern Territory, Australia. 

Read the terms and conditions of this competition here

The deadline for this competition is 4pm Wednesday 3 November 2021. 

Arts Law has rated this competition 3 out of 5 stars

This competition is run by the Northern Territory Government and describes its aims as recognising outstanding artists and outstanding senior Territorians. This is a competition open to artist residents in the Northern Territory, for portrait paintings featuring a subject that is aged 60 years or older and permanently resides in the Northern Territory.  

Arts Law has previously reviewed this competition in 2018 (view here) and gave it 3 out of 5 stars. This year Arts Law tried to reach out to the competition organisers to discuss how the terms could be improved but unfortunately, we did not receive a response. Prospective entrants should note that at the time of writing this review, the email address listed for queries and submissions ([email protected]) does not appear to be monitored and an automated email is sent in response to correspondence. Therefore, prior to expending effort on creating an artwork for the competition, entrants may wish to make further enquiries to ascertain how to submit their work. 


There are four prizes. First, the Acquisition Award, being a A$7,000 acquisitive prize. The winning entry becomes the property of the Northern Territory Government. In order to be eligible to win the Acquisition Award, the artwork must be made available for sale. There are non-acquisitive Second and Third Prize awards for A$2,000 and A$500 respectively. The Acquisition Award, Second Prize and Third Prize will be decided by a panel of judges. Finally, there is a A$1,000 non-acquisitive People’s Choice award selected by popular vote at the end of the exhibition. 

Copyright and moral rights 

It is good to see a positive statement that entrants retain copyright in their artwork. However, there are some important improvements that would be required to give this competition a higher rating.  

Firstly, we note the terms require all entrants to provide a copyright licence in respect of artworks entered which lasts in perpetuity – that is, for the life of the copyright, regardless of whether their work is even selected for exhibition. For a better rating, we would have liked to have seen the copyright licence required from only the finalists who are selected for the exhibition, rather than all entrants. The licence is non-exclusive which is good, meaning the artist is free to license elsewhere. Further, best practice is that any copyright licence to reproduce the artworks is limited in time (aside from the acquisitive work where it is more reasonable to require a licence in perpetuity). For all other artworks we generally recommend a licence term for the period of time which the organiser would reasonably want to reproduce the works – eg. 2 to 5 years may be reasonable and fair. However, it’s good that the licence is for a limited purpose – namely, the purpose of publicity, educational and promotional purposes associated with the award. While these purposes most likely mean reproductions will be for non-commercial use, it is best to clearly state that the licence is non-commercial meaning artworks cannot be used on items for sale. 

Turning to moral rights – these are your rights to be credited and to integrity (meaning your right for no derogatory treatment of your work, for example, no changes made to your work or uses of it that affect your honour or reputation).  It is great to see there is a clear statement that the artist will be acknowledged as the creator of the work at all times. However, the terms are silent on whether or not changes will be made to the works. Best practice is to include a term that the organiser will treat an entrant’s work with integrity, and not make any changes or alterations to an entrant’s work   without prior written consent.  

Other issues 

Otherwise, the remainder of the terms are reasonable. It is wonderful to see the NT Government will insure the artworks for their sale value (or up to the Acquisitive Prize value of A$7,000), however this only applies to loss or damage to the work and it would be better to see theft also covered by the insurance policy. Entrants should be aware that their work is not covered while in transit and so entrants should consider taking out their own insurance for that. 

It is not clear whether the artist sets the sale price for the artworks and best practice would be to clearly say that the artist sets it. The sale price should include GST if the artist is registered for GST. It is good to see that the organiser is not taking a commission on the sale of any artworks. The terms stipulate that the payment of prize monies will be coordinated by Arts and Culture in accordance with Northern Territory Government protocols; it would be better to set out the exact timing of these payments. Artists should note that if the artwork is not collected within 4 weeks following the end of the exhibition, it may be disposed.  

Artists should seek advice about their individual situation and their entry into the competition if there are any concerns. 

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.