1 September
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

PRIZE REVIEW: Hornsby Art Prize 2023 

This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the Hornsby Art Prize 2023 in Hornsby Shire Council, NSW. Read the terms and conditions of this competition here. 

The deadline for this competition is 5pm, 5 September 2023. 

What is the rating? 

Arts Law has awarded the competition 3 stars out of 5. Read on to find out more detail. 

How did Arts Law help?  

Arts Law reached out to the Hornsby Shire Council and the Hornsby Art Society (the Organisers) to make the competition’s conditions of entry more friendly to artists. We were delighted the Organisers were receptive to our suggestions, however they were unable to update the terms for this year’s competition as there was less than a month to the deadline. The Organisers are prepared to make changes next year.  

How artist-friendly is this competition?  

The terms and conditions of this competition are moderately friendly to artists. Arts Law has only awarded a 3-star rating because there are some areas of artist rights that are not sufficiently protected.   

How do the copyright terms stack up?  

What is copyright?  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 

Copyright remains with the artist. The Organisers request a non-exclusive copyright licence from the final entrants. It is good that the licence is limited to Australia,for the purpose of promoting the Hornsby Art Prize and Hornsby Shire Festival of the Arts via the use of online and print images and for non-commercial purposes only. This leaves entrants free to commercialise their works in other ways.   

Howeverthe licence term is not clearly specified which is not in the artist’s interests.    We would have liked to have seen a clear and appropriate timeframe for how long the licence lasts (for example 2 years) given that a ‘permanent’ licence is excessive in the circumstances.   

  The licence also allows the Organisers to create a permanent, public digital record of the Hornsby Art Prize Finalist’s Exhibition. However, the artist has the option to request the removal of such use of their images.  

Does the competition respect moral rights?  

What are 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 pleased to see that the Organisers will acknowledge the artist’s moral rights by mentioning the name and title of the work wherever displayed, but there is no protection from changes being made to the work.  The best practice is to include a term that the organiser will treat an entrant’s work with integrity and not make any changes or alternations without prior written consent. 

What about Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property? 

What is ICIP?   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 of the competition are silent on ICIP.  

Best practice for Competition organisers is to commit to attributing any ICIP as notified by the entrant, and not to publish or use work in a way that is considered degrading or offensive by the Indigenous community.  

Other issues 

  • Hornsby Shire Council reserves the right to dispose of the artwork if not collected within a specific date. This is not best practice. There should be an attempt by the Council to reach out to an artist over an extended period to understand the delay. 
  • The prize pool can be amended by the Organisers at any time. Further, the judges can decide not to award prizes or add additional prizes.  This is unfair to the artist who has spent significant time on the submission and has also sacrificed the opportunity to apply for other competitions which do award prize money. 
  • The Organisers are not responsible for acquiring any insurance to protect the artwork whilst in their possession. It is the responsibility of the artist to ensure their works are adequately insured during delivery and whilst in the Organisers’ possession. A fair and balanced approach would be for the Organisers to have insurance which protects the artwork from damage, loss or theft whilst in their possession. 

What could they have done better?  

To achieve a higher rating, the conditions of entry could have included the following: 

Overall, Arts Law finds the remaining conditions of entry of this competition acceptable. 

  • A term limiting the copyright licence to use the artworks for a limited period of less than 5 years. 
  • A positive undertaking to observe moral rights and clearly state that no changes will be made to the actual works, without the prior written approval of the artist.  
  • Recognition of ICIP.  
  • Insurance to protect the artwork whilst in the Organiser’s possession. 

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

What is Hornsby Art Prize 2023 about?  

The Hornsby Art Prize 2023 is an opportunity to celebrate Australian Contemporary Art and is open to all Australian residents aged 18 years and over. All artworks must be original work commenced and completed by the entrant within the last twenty-four (24) months. Works must not have been exhibited in a previous art competition, award or prize within NSW. Each art category is defined within the conditions of entry. 

To be eligible for the Hornsby Shire Local Artist Award, artists must be a current resident of the Hornsby Shire. Any artist in the Hornsby Shire, regardless of their professional level is eligible for the Hornsby Shire Local Artist Award. 

The judging panel will select artworks for exhibition based on digital photographs submitted as part of the entry process. The final adjudication will take place once the exhibition has been installed. 

The Hornsby Art Prize Finalists’ Exhibition will take place at Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, 25 Edgeworth David Avenue, Hornsby. It will run from Friday 20 October to Sunday 5 November 2023. The Hornsby Art Prize Finalists’ Exhibition Award Night will be held on Friday 20 October 2023 at Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, Hornsby NSW. 

What prizes are on offer in the Hornsby Art Prize 2023?  

The competition has a substantial non-acquisitive prize of $10,000 for the winner, and a two-week exhibition for finalists at the Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre. There are also other smaller prizes ($5,000 for the Hornsby Shire Local Artist Award; $1,500 award for each of the following five categories – painting, drawing, printmaking, digital art stills, and sculpture; and $500 for the people’s choice winner 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 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.