18 February

Review: Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize 2019


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 (using our previous rating systems  https://www.artslaw.com.au/advocacy/prizes-and-competitions). 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.  


This month, Arts Law has reviewed the terms and conditions of the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize in New South Wales, Australia. 

The deadline for this competition is 20 March 2019.  

Read the terms and conditions of this competition here

Arts Law has rated this competition 4 out of 5 stars. 

This is an annual art prize and exhibition, conducted by Ravenswood School for Girls (the ‘School’). The aim of the prize is to assist with promoting and raising the profile of female artists. There are two categories: the ‘Professional Artist Prize’ (for professional artists) and the ‘Emerging Artist Prize’ (for artists in the ‘early stages of an art career’). In general, entrants for both must be an Australian resident, a female over 18 years of age and entries may be in any artistic medium.  

Both prizes are acquisitive, meaning that the School acquires the winning artworks. However, there are generous cash prizes; $35,000 for the winner of the ‘Professional Artist Prize’  and $5,000 for the winner of the ‘Emerging Artist Prize’. Plus, works of the winners and finalists will be exhibited at the School. The finalists’ works must be available for sale at the exhibition, however they can set the retail price of the artwork.  



All finalists (not just the winners), give the School a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to reproduce their works. The terms set out the different purposes this licence can be used for ranging from promoting the artist, their work, the school and the prize, to use in publications, and for educational and research purposes. It is good that there are these parameters around what the licence can be used for, and that it is a non-exclusive licence (meaning the artist is free to licence to other third parties). However, it would also be better if it were clearly stated the licence can only be used for ‘non-commercial’ purposes – particularly as it is a royalty-free licence, meaning if the school were to sell publications in which the works are reproduced, the artists would not get a fee.  

Note there is no limit on how long this licence runs for. This makes sense in respect of the winning artworks, given it is an acquisitive prize (provided the licence is limited to non-commercial use). Ideally though, especially for finalists, it would be better if the licence was limited in duration, say to the length of time the School realistically and reasonably needs the licence for (e.g. 5 years). 

It is good to see that they have specified the use of low-resolution images for use on websites and social media, as this may lower the risk of infringement by third parties. 

Moral rights 

Under the law, an artist has moral rights including the right to be credited for their artwork and for their artwork to be dealt with integrity (that is, no changes or treatment to the work which affects their artistic integrity). Unfortunately, the terms and conditions are silent on moral rights. Best practice is to include a positive statement that the School will always attribute the artist when their work is used and will not make any changes to the works without first seeking permission (or at least not make any unreasonable changes without permission). 

What else?  

The artists should note the commissions the School will take (which seem fair) in respect of works sold at the exhibition. Entrants should be mindful of the different commission arrangement should the entrant be contracted to a gallery. Entrants are told they are responsible for insuring their own artwork however the School will be responsible for any loss or damage to their artwork while it is in their possession. It would be clearer, and fairer to artists, if the terms stated that the School will insure the works while in the School’s possession, custody or control. Artists should also note the terms around collecting their works at the end of the exhibition and when the School can destroy uncollected works – the terms are reasonable on this. 

To conclude 

Overall for the winners, the prizes are good (particularly the cash prize for the Professional Artist Prize) and for all finalists and winners there is an opportunity for profile raising through the exhibition. Entrants should be aware however, that should they be chosen as a finalist or winner, they are giving a licence forever. This is not fair if their works are used commercially, given it is a royalty-free licence.  

For a higher rating the terms of this competition could be improved in the ways discussed above.  

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.