National Capital Art Prize supports and promotes culturally diverse artistic endeavours

The National Capital Art Prize

National Capital Art Prize supports and promotes culturally diverse artistic endeavours

The inaugural annual National Capital Art Prize is the first Australia-wide competition for paintings of any subject offering $45,000 in prize money.

Director and Founder of the National Capital Art Prize, Mr Robert (Bob) Stephens, said the new annual Art Prize competition was established to promote culturally diverse artistic endeavours and provide a forum where art can be viewed, studied, critiqued and sold.

It was also established to support and encourage Australian artists, many of whom have had less opportunity to showcase their works in the last 12 months due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“Australian artists have struggled for visibility over the last 12 months and these Awards give them a platform for exposure and commercial opportunity.” he said


The National Capital Art Prize is the only art competition in Australia which allows entrants to paint any vision, such as portrait, landscape or abstract, and use any medium including oil, acrylic, watercolour, mixed media or pencil.

“The inaugural 2021 National Capital Art Prize welcomes both established and emerging artists to submit pieces on any theme or genre.” he said.

We particularly did not want to put restrictions on the artists and are encouraging entrants to paint whatever they like.” he added.
Each artist can enter up to four different paintings n any combination of the four man categories which include:

a) Open – $15,000

b) First Nations Prize for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander artists – $15,000

c) Landscape – $5,000

d) Student – $2,500

Finalists will also have the chance to win the People’s Choice Award voted by the public – $2,500, and in 2021 there will also be an Art Scholarship valued at $5,000 offered in partnership with the Australian National University (ANU).

“Entrants only need to be Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia, and over 18 years of age, so we really do welcome all entries,” Mr Stephens said.

“We are very much looking forward to what the 2021 competition will bring,” he added.


The National Capital Art Prize


Henri Matisse, a French artist and painter, famously said the phrase ‘Creativity takes courage!’

The new competition is designed to inspire the creative imaginations of emerging artists across the country as well as re-inspire more established and experienced artists.

The competition has also been been well received by the art industry.

Artist David Hinchliffe said:

“The National Capital Art Prize is like a bright light at the end of a long tunnel as we artists emerge from COVID hibernation,” 

“Speaking to my fellow artists about the prize, I know there is genuine excitement in such a wide-ranging prize. I congratulate the organisers for the breadth of the prize and the fact that there is a separate First Nations component.” he added

Australian plein air artist Ken Knight, a top-seller with Stephens’s Aarwun Gallery, emphasises the importance of the award for landscape artists, saying:

“To have an art prize that recognises and acknowledges this genre of painting is applauded… The depiction of landscape in all its forms has been pivotal in shaping how Australians perceive their identity within the context of our large and diverse landmass.”

Acclaimed Australian artist Wendy Sharpe has welcomed the news.

“It is exciting to hear about the new National Capital Art Prize, a wonderful initiative for Canberra and nationally. Prizes can make a big difference to an artist’s career encouraging both professional and emerging artists,” she said.


Entries are open via the Prize website National Capital Art Prize and close on 1 July 2021.

Enter here

Finalists announced on 2 August 2021.

Official opening and award night on 17 September 2021.

Public exhibition opens in Canberra on 18 September 2021.

Dee Raghavan

Dee Raghavan is the Senior Manager, Engagement Marketing at CulturalPulse. She has a passion for writing, travelling and experiencing other cultures through sport, music, film, art and food. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]