PRIZE REVIEW: 2023 John Villiers Outback Art Prize

Photo by Tim Davies on Unsplash

This month, Arts Law reviewed the terms and conditions of the 2023 John Villiers Outback Art Prize in Queensland, organised by the Outback Regional Gallery and Waltzing Matilda Centre (Organiser). Read the terms and conditions of this competition here

The deadline for this competition is 9th January 2023.

What is the rating?

5 stars

Arts Law has awarded the competition 5 out of 5 stars!

How did Arts Law help?

Arts Law previously reviewed the terms and conditions for this competition in 2020 and made some best practice suggestions at that time. Read about our previous review here. We were so pleased to see that those recommendations were carried through to the current 2023 competition and that the terms are still very fair and artist-friendly!

Recently, Arts Law reached out to the Organiser with additional recommendations to improve the competition’s terms and conditions. The Organisers were receptive to our suggestions, but were only able to consider them for future years.  

How artist-friendly is this competition?

This competition is very artist friendly. It asks for a reasonable copyright licence from winners and finalists in exchange for valuable prizes, and commits to respecting their moral rights.

How do the copyright terms stack up?

Copyright is a bundle of rights that protect literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works (as well as films and sound recordings). These rights allow the owner of copyright to control the ways that a work is used. If you want to learn more, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on Copyright here.

This competition has very artist-friendly copyright terms and the Organiser should be commended on the way in which the terms fairly and respectfully treat the artist’s rights.

It was fantastic to see that all entrants retain copyright in their works. This is best practice.

Winners and finalists must grant the Winton Shire Council and Outback Regional Gallery a non-exclusive and non-commercial licence to reproduce images of artworks both in printed form and online to promote the prize. It’s great that the terms are exceptionally clear in regards to the licence that is granted to the Organiser and that only winners and finalists are subject to it, rather than all entrants. It is also great that the Organiser is only able to use these images for the purposes of promoting of the prize.

The terms also have clear and sensible time limits for the licence (i.e., 5 years for non-acquisitive prizes and perpetually for the winner of the acquisitive prize). This is fair and acceptable considering that the Organiser acquires the winning Artwork and may want to reproduce it for years to come.

Does the competition respect moral rights?

Creators have moral rights when their work is used (i) to attribution, (ii) against false attribution, and (iii) to integrity, which means not having their work treated in a derogatory way. For more information, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on Moral Rights here.  

We are thrilled by the competition’s treatment and respect of moral rights in the T&Cs. The terms include a clear and positive statement that the Organisers will acknowledge the artist and artist’s gallery (if applicable) when reproducing their work (in line with their licence). They also include a term that the Organisers will not make any changes to reproductions of the Artwork without prior written consent from the artist unless it is reasonable to do so.

This a great outcome for artists. It ensures that they are credited for their work and that their work is treated with integrity by not allowing changes to be made without consent. It is also practical for the Organiser.

What about Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property?

ICIP is a broad term that covers all of the rights that Indigenous people have, and want to have, to protect their traditional arts and culture (including writing, music, performances, paintings, languages, sacred sites, stories passed down orally, and other records of heritage). If you want to learn more, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on ICIP here.  

The terms are currently silent on Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP).

In anticipation that some entrants will submit artworks which incorporate ICIP, it would be best practice for the terms to explicitly address ICIP. It is disappointing that the Organisers have not included written terms addressing ICIP in this year’s competition. But this is an improvement that the Organisers have committed to implementing in future years.

What could they have done better?

Overall, Arts Law is very pleased with the terms and conditions of this competition and the receptiveness of the Organisers to ensure they are best practice. It is for that reason, we have awarded this competition 5 out of 5 starts.

While we appreciate the Organiser’s willingness to respect ICIP, it would have been good if the 2023 terms addressed this explicitly.

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

What is the John Villiers Outback Art Prize about?

The John Villiers Outback Art Prize is presented by the Outback Regional Gallery and Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, Queensland. This prize has the theme “Outback: A Sense of Place” and acceptable mediums include painting, drawing, print making, sculpture or textile, but no photography or digital mediums.

Entries are open to Australian citizens that reside in Australia (not internationally).

Entrants submit images of their works. Approximately 35 to 40 finalists will be chosen. Selected works must be delivered to the Organiser by 3rd March 2023, and they must be available for exhibition between 11th March – 7th May 2023 at the Outback Regional Gallery. All finalist’s artworks must be for sale and it’s great that the entrants set the final sale price on their entry submission form.

What prizes are on offer in the John Villiers Outback Art Prize?

There are two categories of prizes:

  • Adult section with the following cash prizes:
  • First place: $10,000 – acquisitive
  • Second place: $2,000 – non-acquisitive
  • Third place: $500 – non-acquisitive
  • Emerging Youth section with the following cash prizes:
  • First Prize: $1,500 – non- acquisitive 
  • Second Prize: $1,000 – non-acquisitive 
  • Third Prize: $500 prize – non-acquisitive

There is also a People’s Choice Award of $500 open to both sections.


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.

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.