Monday, February 24, 2020

The Disappearing Art Competitions

Has anybody noticed the disappearing art competitions?

Here's my summary of where I think we are up to

  • The Bad News: Art Competitions which no longer exist - and why that might be happening
  • Big Question Mark: Art Competitions with a BIG query
  • Good News: Art Competitions being held in 2020
  • Why art competitions are important
  • TOP TIPS for art competitions (the ones that are left!)
The Threadneedle Prize Preview in 2016

What I find most sad is that both art competitions for figurative art seem to have disappeared at the same time.

BAD NEWS: Art Competitions which no longer exist

The following art competitions have definitely finished.

The Threadneedle Prize

The Columbia Threadneedle Prize - Figurative Art today (formerly known as The Threadneedle Prize) was a major art prize with a big money prize. Latterly the first prize also included a solo exhibition in the Threadneedle Space at the Mall Galleries.

The Threadneedle Prize in 2016

The National Open Art Competition 

  • closed in 2018
  • no sign of a resurrection
  • website indicates it's "postponed until further notice" - which is the phrase I always associate with "hope over experience" people who are reluctant to give up but have no reasonable expectation of anything changing.

Why's it happening?

At a guess:
  • expenses exceed income
  • sponsors disappear or die
  • unsuccessful at securing new long term sponsorship
  • merits of the exhibition no longer attract quality entries
  • marketing has become more difficult and must involve quality social media marketing
  • competition has become tired and needs to be reinvigorated
  • the benefits vs costs equation no longer makes sense to the main sponsor

BIG ??? - Art Competitions with a query

Lynn Painter Stainers competition - back in 2014

Lynn Painter-Stainers

I'm wondering if the Lynn Foundation have backed out and/or are in a state of suspended animation.
  • Guy Parsons OBE who was CEO and a Trustee of the Lynn Foundation died in September 2019.  He ran the charity after he set it up in 1985 for his client Mr Lynn, who invested millions of pounds into the cause.
  • It's unclear how this art competition contributed to the main purpose of the Lynn Foundation - which primarily targeted the advancement of health or saving of lives.
I'd say this art competition is not happening this year. I'd say there's a very good chance it won't reappear unless another sponsor steps up......

BP Portrait Award

Aleah Chapin wins the BP Portrait Award 2012

In 2020 the BP Portrait Award 2020 will
  • presumably continue to hang fewer portraits due to the more confined space - see Call for Entries: BP Portrait Award 2020 (Part 1)
  • have a much shorter and earlier exhibition
    • date of the exhibition in London has changed - to May and June.
    • AND it's much shorter - just five weeks
  • which will result in much less exposure for the artists and fewer visitors to the exhibition
We still do not know what will happen to the BP Portrait Award when the National Portrait Gallery closes for three years this summer.

Will there be a BP Portrait Award 2021?
Will it continue to be sponsored by BP?  Given that the BP Sponsorship is attracting more and more criticism - including by one of the Judges in 2019.

GOOD NEWS: Art Competitions still running in 2020

These art competitions are still running in 2020

RA Summer Exhibition 2015

The RA Summer Exhibition

John Moores Painting Prize

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020

Derwent Art Prize

Chrys Allen - the first winner of the Derwent Art Prize in 2013

ING Discerning Eye

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize

Why art competitions are important

In summary: art competitions are really important for
  • newbie artists - because they make them think about standards and processes relevant to an art competition - which can also help them with developing and selling their art generally. Shipping artwork to a client is not very different to shipping to an art competition - except your client will keep the packaging!
  • emerging artists in terms of raising their profile and getting their work seen on a national stage  and by art galleries and agents - often for the first time.
  • improving artists wanting to develop their careers - in terms of demonstrating a track record of being consistently chosen for different art competitions
  • established artists who need to remind people they exist and are still producing quality artwork - and occasionally test their metal! However there can be a downside. It's bad enough being turned down for an art competition when you're an aspiring artist. Think about what it must feel like if you have supposedly already made the grade!!

TOP TIPS for art competitions

My Making A Mark Page about Major Art Competitions has a round up of some tips previously posted on this blog.

TIPS for artists entering exhibitions

You may find these TIPS helpful
and for those needing help with framing...

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