8 February
Photo by Kamil Szumotalski on Unsplash

PRIZE REVIEW – Mandorla Art Award 2024 

This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of Mandorla Art Award 2024. The Mandorla Art Award is held in Western Australia, but is open to all artists across Australia. Entries close on 13 March 2024.  

Read the terms and conditions of this competition here and key dates and information here

What is the Mandorla Art Award about? 

The Mandorla Art Award is a thematic Christian art prize. The Mandorla Art Award has an acquisitive prize of $30,000 for the winner. There are three other non-acquisitive prizes; two Highly Commended prize of $5,000 each, and the People’s Choice prize of $2,000. Entrants may also apply for a 1-month residency at the New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery, which includes a $10,000 fee towards travel and residency costs, as well as accommodation, studio space and meals.  The entry fee for the Mandorla Art Award is $50. 

The theme the Mandorla Art Award for 2024 is “Refocus” and the Reference text is “Let all that you do be done in love.”– 1 Corinthians 16:14 (NRSV). Participating artists are required to interpret the theme in their own way and the artwork must demonstrate a direct relationship to the theme.  The Selection and Judging panel will consider the artist’s approach to the theme. Further information on the theme is published by the Organiser here

Finalists are exhibited at the Holmes a Court Gallery, and some of those artworks will be included in a touring exhibition.  Artworks will be available for sale, with a commission for artworks sold going to the Organiser. 

Submitted artwork can be in any visual art medium, must not have been previously publicly exhibited, and must be executed entirely during the 12 months commencing March 2023. The award terms contain specifications for different artistic mediums. 

Entry is open to all “professional artists”, aged 18 years or over, who are residents in Australia.  A professional artist is defined as an artist with specialised training, recognised as professional by their peers, and with a consistent exhibition history. 

What was the rating? 

Arts Law has awarded the terms for the award 3.5 out of 5 stars. Read on to find out more detail.  

Arts Law reached out to The Mandorla Centre of Inner Peace Inc. (Organiser), the organisers of the Mandorla Art Award. The organisers were receptive to our comments as to how the terms and conditions could be improved to be fairer for artists.  We are pleased that they have indicated to Arts Law that they will take our comments into account and address our comments for their next award year (2026).  

How artist friendly is this competition? 

The Mandorla Art Award is moderately artist friendly. 

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.   

This competition has moderately artist-friendly copyright terms.  

It is great to see that each artist retains their copyright.  The terms expressly state that the Mandorla Art Award Committee respects that the artists always retain the copyright in the image of their own work.  This is best practice. 

However, there are a number of respects in which we would like to see the copyright licence terms improved: 

  • First, the copyright licences are given by all entrants, not just the finalists or the winners. It is unfair to require all artists who enter the prize to provide the Organiser with a licence to use a photograph of the artwork simply for entering, particularly when the artist will not receive any benefit from the grant of the licence. The benefits of publicity and potential sale are only for finalists in the awards. 
  • Second, the scope of the licence is a little unclear. The licence is for ‘publicity purposes ’and there is a general licence to document, reproduce or otherwise use the images of the artwork for all ‘purposes associated with’. These are both unclear and potentially broad. We would like to see a clear and limited copyright licence that excludes commercial use. 
  • Third, it is great that there is an exclusion of fundraising activities from the licence, and an agreement to consult with, and share the profit from those activities with the artist. We would like to see this extend to any commercial use (noting also that it is not clear who the ‘fundraising activities’ are for). 
  • Finally, the licence does not have an end date.  Particularly when there is no licence fee paid, we would have liked to see a clear and appropriate duration for the licence, being only as long as is required. 

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.   

The terms state that the artist’s work can be used for publicity purposes and will ‘always be appropriately acknowledged’. The artist will also be consulted in relation to any use of the artwork for fundraising. These terms are great and artist-friendly.  However, the best practice is acknowledge the artist in appropriate circumstances beyond publicity, and 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 (ICIP)? 

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.   

There is no reference to ICIP protections in the terms of the Mandorla Art Award. Given that there might be artworks entered that incorporate or embody ICIP, we recommend that changes are included to acknowledge ICIP. 

Ideally, we would like to see terms that require an artist to inform the Mandorla Art Award if there is any ICIP in the artwork. If so, any display of the artwork or of an image of the artwork would be accompanied by an ICIP notice. An ICIP notice would acknowledge the inclusion of ICIP, acknowledge the traditional custodians, and state that dealing with any part of the work for any purpose that has not been authorised by the traditional custodians may be a serious breach of the customary laws of that community. Contact details for enquiries regarding permitted uses of the work can also be included in the notice. 

What about the acquisition and sale of entries?  

The overall winning artwork will be acquired by the Organiser, and kept at the New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery. The prize money for the overall winner ($30,000) includes the acquisition of the work.  Artists should consider the value of their work, and whether it might be greater than the prize money, before entering.  

Finalists’ artworks will be available for sale during the exhibition and touring exhibition. The Organiser will receive a 40% commission. If artists are represented by a commercial gallery, the commission will be divided equally between the representing gallery and the Organiser. It is good to see that the 40% commission is not intended to cut into the Artist’s share. Artists should confirm their arrangements with their dealer before entering. 

The Mandorla Art Award terms also provide that unsold artworks must be collected by the artist or their agent. If Artworks are not collected within 10 days, the artwork may be auctioned, with proceeds going to charity. We think that this term is unfair. 10 days is a short period and the artist may suffer a real financial loss if their work is sold.  This term is unfair to artists and we would like see it removed.  

What about transport, risk and insurance for the artworks? 

The Artist (not the Organiser) must arrange insurance for the artwork during transportation and the exhibition.  The Artist (not the Organiser) is responsible for freighting costs.  This may create a barrier to entry for the artist (in addition to the entry fee).  NAVA’s Code of Conduct recommends that organisers can improve equitable access for artists by paying for or sharing in transportation costs with the artist, and paying for artists to be insured while in transit and for the duration of the exhibition, for damage and theft. It would be best practice for the Organiser to offer insurance cover to protect the artwork while it is in the Organiser’s possession and control. 

The Award terms state that the Organiser will not be held responsible for any loss or damage whatsoever or however caused to the artwork while in their custody.  While lawyers might get into arguments about what the effect of this clause is, we would like to see any limitation on liability exclude a breach of the Organiser’s promise to exercise ‘all due care in the handling and protection of the artwork’.   

What could they have done better? 

The competition terms for the 2024 Mandorla Art Award could be improved by updating the following: 

  1. Clarify the scope of the copyright licence and only require to be given by finalists and winners. 
  1. Removal of the term regarding sale of the artworks if they are not collected within 10 days. 
  1. Introducing ICIP protections and notices. 
  1. Update moral rights protections. 
  1.  Require the Organiser’s to use all due care in the handling and protection of the artwork and to be liable if they damage it 

About Arts Law’s Prize Reviews 

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. The review is not comprehensive, and we focus on key features. 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.   

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

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