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VAO Art Prize

The Visual Art Open competition is a not-for-profit event open to both amateur and professional artists based in the UK and internationally. The aim is to give artists the ultimate platform to develop their passion and career in the arts sector. Finalists will benefit from exhibiting, selling and showcasing their work to art critics and buyers alike.

The VAO art competition is currently running in its sixth consecutive year and is open to both amateur and professional artists.


There are five key categories for entrants to apply to: ​​

  • Painting & Mixed Media & Printmaking

  • Illustration & Drawing

  • Sculpture

  • Photography / Digital Art 

  • Young Artist (16 - 24 years old)


Key Dates VAO21

1st October 2020 - Phase 1 Applications Open

15th December 2020 - Phase 1 Applications Close

8th January 2021 - Phase 2 Applications Open

15th March 2021 - Phase 2 Applications Close

Phase 3 - Dates to be Announced

Monday 30th August 2021- Shortlisted Artists Announced  

Monday 27th Sept 2021- Finalists Announced

Friday 12TH - 14th November 2021 - Finalists Exhibition at Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair & 2021 Winner Announced


Overall Winner Receives:

  • Cash prize

  • Certificate 

  • Solo Show at Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair 

  • Annual Mentorship Programme  

  • International Online Global Art Exhibition of Finalists

  • Free Career Development Talks

  • 20% Discount with Cass Art

All Category Winners Receives:

  • £250 cash prize 

  • Certificate 

  • Finalists will be exhibited at Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair 

ALL SUBMISSIONS will receive promotion on social media and email coverage to 50,000, plus an invitation to the annual show.


Why Apply to the VAO21 Art Prize?


1. As all artists know, art competitions are a really great way to announce your presence in the art world. Applying to the VAO gives you the chance to showcase yourself and make connections with art enthusiasts, critics, and purchasers alike.


2. The VAO offers a fun, constructive and professional environment in which to learn, to be inspired by other artists and build your own skills and self-confidence.


3. As each round of judging passes, your work will be promoted across our social media and website as well as the opportunity to be featured in the regional and national press, opening your work to a greater audience.


4. You will have the chance to win not only a cash prize but also a commercial mentoring package to further develop your work and career as an artist and a spot at next year’s Chester Arts Fair.


5. As a finalist, your work will be included in our VAO brochures, a physical memento of the Chester Arts fair that every visitor will leave with.

The Visual Art Open is proud to be in partnership with the




The leading membership organisation for Visual Artists globally; who help artists of all levels achieve their business ambitions.

We are committed to supporting visual artists developing their businesses commercially - increasing Sales and their Visibility. Our experienced team have been working successfully with independent artists over the past decade. The VAA platform has been created to champion artists at all stages of their careers to succeed in the business of art.

Our programme does this in a number of ways:

  • Assist artists in building their businesses by generating sales via distribution channels (self-representation, galleries, publishers, online)

  • Advice on personal brand creation, PR and marketing

  • Offer practical support in managing your art business (Mindset, Legal, Insurance)

Members artistic disciplines mainly range from Painting, Drawing, Sculpting, Photography, Printmaking, Ceramics and Mixed Media.

We are an inclusive arts membership organisation and welcome new members.

Become a member for as little as £4.50 a month

For more information visit:


Call for Artists

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