28 June
Image by DustyRoze from Unsplash

PRIZE REVIEW – Meroogal Women’s Art Prize 2022

This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the Meroogal Women’s Art Prize 2022 in New South Wales. Read the terms and conditions of this competition here.   

The deadline for this competition is 2 August 2022

What is the rating? 

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

How did Arts Law help?  

Arts Law reached out to the Organiser of the competition, Sydney Living Museums, to suggest ways to make this prize’s T&Cs even more artist friendly. We were delighted with the Organiser’s response – they were prompt and enthusiastic about updating their T&Cs in the future to make them better for artists. While they were unable to update their T&Cs for the current prize, they say they look forward to taking on Arts Law’s feedback for future prizes. 

Sydney Living Museums said, “We would like to thank Arts Law for reviewing the Meroogal Women’s Art Prize 2022 Terms and Conditions. We are so pleased to have achieved a good rating. Reviews like this help us to improve our processes and practices to ensure that we are able to support the wonderful artists and creatives that we work with every day. We look forward to addressing Arts Law’s feedback of our terms and conditions for future rounds of the Meroogal Women’s Art Prize.”  

How artist-friendly is this competition?  

Overall, this competition’s terms are moderately artist-friendly and could benefit from a few improvements. There is a lack of clarity in respect to some of the terms, which has resulted in Arts Law awarding a reduced rating.  

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 

The T&Cs are silent on copyright. Although copyright remains with the entrant unless the terms say otherwise, for clarity and as matter of best practice, the T&Cs should address copyright expressly and include a positive statement that copyright in the artworks will be retained by the artists.  

Despite this, the T&Cs require that finalist’s consent to their artworks being photographed and reproduced for documentation and promotion without further payment to the finalist’s. Images and reproductions can be used at any time and include of all electronic or print media, for all non-commercial purposes in association with the competition and Sydney Living Musuems for this exhibition and future competitions and exhibitions. 

Whilst it is positive that these terms are limited to finalists (rather than all entrants), to clarify the artist’s rights it would be better for the terms to grant an express licence that is non-exclusive. Additionally, there are not appropriate restrictions as to how long these terms last for and whether it’s a fixed timeframe.  

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 competition’s treatment of moral rights is somewhat unclear. The T&Cs acknowledge that Sydney Living Museums will acknowledge the artist and credit images of the artworks when appropriate. It would have been better if the competition took a firm position on supporting the treatment of moral rights at all times.  

The terms are also silent on whether changes will be made to the actual works. 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. 

Further, artists are required to submit an 80-word statement alongside their entry. Should the artwork be selected for exhibition, the artist’s statement may be used for promotional and marketing purposes. Minor edits to the artist’s statement may occur, however, Sydney Living Museums will ‘endeavour’ to seek the artist’s approval on the final text. Because an artist statement can provide important context to the artwork, it would be much better if Sydney Living Museums committed to seeking the artist’s approval.   

Other issues 

We are pleased to see that artworks securely displayed within the interior of the Meroogal property will be covered by Sydney Living Museums insurance, upon arrival on site and until they are collected at the close of the exhibition. However, Sydney Living Museums will not be responsible to any damage or loss caused to work that is displayed outdoors. Whilst there is regular security, it cannot guarantee the safety of these works, so any entrants should consider this risk and explore taking out their own insurance to cover loss or damage to the artwork. 

Further, entrants are entirely responsible for the delivery and collection of their works, which is usual practice. 

What could have they done better?  

Arts Law recognises that the terms of this competition balance towards being more artist-friendly than not. But Arts Law would have liked to see the following:  

  • Clearly state that all entrants will retain copyright in their work. 
  • Limit the duration of the licence for finalists and make it clear if it’s non-exclusive. 
  • Positively recognise entrant’s moral rights in all circumstances.  
  • Clearly state that no changes will be made to the actual works, without the prior written consent of the artist. 

We suggest that entrants read the T&Cs for any further requirements. 

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

What is Meroogal Women’s Art Prize about?  

Sydney Living Museums are looking for female artists to demonstrate a creative response to Meroogal as a place and to its history and stories. You can learn about Meroogal and its collection through images and the links provided here. Selected artworks will be displayed and photographed throughout the property with the objective of recognising the personal stories of the people who once lived there.  

Entries are open to any female artists aged 18 years or over who is a resident of NSW. Please note that employees of Sydney Living Museums and their families will not be eligible to enter.  

Entries can be any medium and created in the past 12 months. The subject matter must respond to the historic house of Meroogal, its former occupants, and its meaning within broader historical and contemporary contexts.  

Finalists will be notified by Monday 29 August 2022. All entrants will be formally notified of the selection of finalists either by email or letter after this date. Artworks selected for display in the exhibition will be on display to the public from Saturday 17 September 2022 to Saturday 22 April 2023.  

You can enter up to two works. The works will be judged separately, so it is possible that both works could be chosen for the exhibition.  

This year Sydney Living Museums is waiving the entry fee.  

What prizes are on offer in Meroogal Women’s Art Prize?  

There are four non-acquisitive prizes on offer. The First Prize is $7,000, and the winner will also receive a Bundanon artist-in-residence scholarship. The Second Prize is $1,500 in addition to a solo exhibition at the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, Nowra, including to the opening event. There is a Highly Commended Award which will receive $1,500. Finally, the People’s Choice award selected by popular vote will receive $500. All winners will also receive a Sydney Living Museums membership. 

Prize winners will be announced at the opening of the exhibition on 17 September 2022.  

A panel of judges will select the finalists and winners. The Panel will consist of representatives from the arts, including a Sydney Living Museums representative and a member of the Shoalhaven region arts community.  


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.