Open Call: DCC / VAI Art Writing Award 2020

Application deadline: Friday 21 August 2020 (midnight).

Dublin City Council and Visual Artists Ireland invite applications for the Art Writing Award 2020. The DCC / VAI Art Writing Award was launched in 2011 as a developmental opportunity for art writers in Ireland. The award reflects the commitment of Dublin City Council Arts Office and Visual Artists Ireland to encourage and support critical dialogue around contemporary visual arts practice.*

The winner of the 2020 Art Writing Award will receive a €1000 honorarium comprising:

  • €500 award for the winning entry, which will be published in The Visual Artists’ News Sheet;
    €300 commission to develop a text responding to The LAB Gallery’s 2021 programme;
  • Appointment to VAN’s writer panel, with two shorter commissions amounting to €200;
  • Editorial support and mentoring from VAI’s publishing department.

Competition Brief:

Over the last few months, amid the global closure of galleries in response to COVID-19, the art world has relied heavily on the remote viewing of online exhibitions. Opinions remain divided as to whether the online dissemination of art is an alienating or democratising force.

Essay proposals should consider the pragmatic, conceptual, critical, aesthetic and institutional benefits and challenges of experiencing artworks online, and whether this curatorial model, without significant precedent, is fit for purpose.

Rather than a completed essay, writers should submit a detailed proposal, outlining how they intend to respond to the brief. Proposals should articulate the writer’s assessment of current critical debate, by identifying core themes and suitable reference material.

Suggested Reading:

All art writing practitioners based in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are eligible.

Submissions should comprise:

  1. Essay Proposal – developed in response to the Competition Brief (outlined above). The submitted proposal should be no longer than 800 words. Essays that have previously been published (in print or online) will not be accepted.
  2. One example of previous writing (published or otherwise)
  3. Current CV – including details of publishing experience, if relevant.

Submissions should be emailed as one PDF document to VAN Features Editor Joanne Laws at with ‘ART WRITING AWARD 2020’ in the subject line. Late applications will not be accepted.

*The previous DCC/VAI Art Writing Award winners are: James Merrigan ‘The New Collectivism’ (2011); Joanne Laws ‘Commemoration – A Forward-Looking Act’ (2012/13); Rebecca O’Dwyer ‘Attentive Festivalisation’ (2014/15); Sue Rainsford ‘Serpents and Clay’ (2016/17); Lily Cahill ‘Rock the Casbah’ (2018/19).