NEWAD art contest

NEWAD's crappy art contest

I ran into what I thought was a pretty interesting public art project last night while attending the Leaf game, of all things. Alongside the many sports-themed ads spread across the washroom walls at the ACC, there are also a number of posters pushing something called Art Here, which it turns out is a contest being run by NEWAD, who owns ad-space at the arena.

I have to say I was pretty surprised by the location of the ads. One expects to find campaigns for razors, hair loss, and Axe body spray in arena washrooms rather than the work of burgeoning artists. As such, I was initially pretty delighted with the discovery, which reminded me of the Bank on Art project, and, of course, the Poetry on the Way ads on the TTC. What better place than a the washrooms at a sports venue to inject a little art into people's lives, I thought?

Naturally, when I got home I paid a visit to the website listed on the ads. It's at this point when the disappointment started to set in. On the surface there's nothing particularly wrong with the project, which I learned is in its second year. Anyone living in Canada is given the opportunity to submit a piece of artwork via the Art Here website, which, if it wins, will be displayed throughout NEWADs indoor network on a national level. Although there's no money on the table, that's still a fair bit of valuable exposure for yet-to-be established artists.

Scrolling through the online galleries, however, I realized that something wasn't quite right. Although some impressive work has been submitted to NEWAD as part of the project, there's also a ton of stuff that's just not up to snuff. And I think I know why. By submitting anything to the contest -- whether it's eventually selected as a winner or not -- the author of the work agrees that it becomes "the property of NEWAD."

Newad art here

Here's a bit of the legal speak from the rules, which are almost hidden at the bottom of the page: "NEWAD reserves the right to use and reproduce in all its publications and all its products, all the submitted pieces, including - but not limited to - the finalist pieces. By submitting any entry for the Contest, the participant grants NEWAD a, non-exclusive royalty-free right for an ten (10) year duration to use, copy or reproduce, on all media support, including all electronic support belonging to NEWAD or affiliates, for all uses, on all media platforms, in all formats, all the submitted pieces without additional consideration."

My suspicion is that there are very few artists with any experience at all who would participate under these conditions, which is why much of the work that has been submitted seems amateuristic. Contest rules like this aren't new or even that surprising -- and it should be noted that NEWAD promises to credit the artist if his/her work is used -- but it's a shame that a project with great potential turns out to be little more than a way for NEWAD to stock up on free images, some of which are admittedly quite good.

What do you think? Does the value of exposure outweigh the loss of potential future royalties? Or should artists avoid contests that rob them of the rights to their work?


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