SALA Awards & Opportunities

Each year we recognise South Australian artists, and the venues that support them, in the SALA Awards. 
All awards in 2023 were open exclusively to registered SALA Festival participants and free to enter. 

Check out the finalists and winners for the 2023 SALA Awards on our Finalists & Winners page, or check out our archive of winners from past years.

Tips for 2024

While you wait to find out which awards are on offer in 2024, here are some tips for applying:

Check the Terms & Conditions.
Not all awards are the same. Some awards have narrower eligibility than others, and you might waste your time applying for something that you are ineligible for. Some awards come with obligations (such as a supported exhibition, or a presentation). If the winner is not able to fulfill these obligations, it may result in the award being forfeited.

Complete the application form yourself where possible.
Gallery staff may support an artist to make an award application, but it is important that the artist will be able to comply with the Terms & Conditions. Anyone can make a user account in the SALA Online Portal, and quote the Registration ID assigned to your exhibition/event in the award application form.

Don’t copy & paste the same statement across multiple award applications.
Some of the award applications are quite  general, but others may have specific questions. Not answering the question can rule out an otherwise compelling entry.

City of Adelaide Incubator Award

The City of Adelaide Incubator Award recognises an artist whose work explores and/or celebrates the experience of the City. The award welcomes work that reflects Adelaide’s Dynamic City Culture, a city that celebrates diverse community, culture, and creativity. Artwork that connects to Adelaide’s identity as a cultural centre for playful, thought provoking, and world class art experiences will be preferred.

This award is open to artists at any stage of their career, working in any medium, whose work explores and/or celebrates the experience of the City, and who are taking part in a SALA exhibition within the City of Adelaide in 2023.

Prize: $7,000 + winner required to participate in one public program (artist talk, in-conversation, etc) with the City of Adelaide in 2024, sharing with the community their creative practice and how it has evolved as a result of the award.

Unitcare Services Digital Media Award

This award seeks to encourage experimentation in new media and is for artists working in digital art including computer, moving image, virtual, interactive, sound, and internet platforms.

The Advertiser Contemporary Art Award

For the most outstanding contemporary work in any medium in 2023.
Finalists will be selected to exhibit their submitted artwork in the foyer at Keith Murdoch House (Adelaide) from July- end of August as part of the SALA Festival.

City Rural Emerging Artist Award

For artists in the early stages of their career with under five years’ professional experience.

Inspiring SA Science in Art Award

For artists whose work explores/engages with science, technology, engineering, maths or medicine (STEMM), or STEMM-related issues.

City of Unley Active Ageing award

For artists over the age of 60 to celebrate the City of Unley’s involvement with SALA and its commitment to promoting and supporting an active ageing approach. Both traditional and contemporary artworks are encouraged.

Prize: $2,000 and an exhibition space in Unley at Hughes Gallery for SALA 2024.

Don Dunstan Foundation Award

For artists whose work explores social justice themes which align with the objectives and priorities of the Don Dunstan Foundation including homelessness; mental health; migration (including cultural and ethnic diversity); economic equality and justice; Aboriginal economic empowerment and reconciliation; human rights; or Don Dunstan himself. 

Hither & Yon Venue Award

For a venue, including online, that has exceeded expectations in supporting artists exhibiting during SALA Festival 2023. This can be in areas such as installation support, promotion of the artist, community engagement, visitor experience, and more.

SALA Solo Photographic Opportunity

For an artist exhibiting photographic work in SALA Festival 2023, to support them in presenting a solo photographic exhibition of new work in the following year as part of the 2024 SALA Festival.

Prize: a supported solo exhibition in SALA 2024

  • Printing of artwork at Atkins Lab & consulting with Paul Atkins (valued at $5,500)
  • Mentorship from Gavin Blake (Director of the Centre for Creative Photography) (valued at $3,500)
  • Exhibition space at praxis ARTSPACE for SALA Festival 2024 (August 2024) & curatorial assistance from Patty Chehade (valued at $3,500)
  • Premium registration in SALA Festival 2024 (valued at $540)

Frequently Asked Questions

Click the ‘+’ symbol to expand and see the answer.

2024 key dates to be announced in 2024.

Most awards open Wednesday, 1 March 2023 and  close Wednesday, 17 May 2023. Check each award listing for the specific dates.

By filling out an award nomination form in the SALA Online Portal.

Artists should complete their own applications for the SALA Awards where possible. 


that artists self-nominate for the awards. If your artist needs assistance in nominating for an award, we recommend that you use the artist’s own words and ensure that any specific questions are answered.

Artists and venues that are participating in a registered SALA exhibition/event are encouraged to self-nominate for the SALA Awards. Each award has different criteria and some result in an opportunity so it’s important to read up on each award before nominating.

Nominations will be accepted from someone representing the nominee (a curator, support worker, or friend) who can fill out the form on their behalf. It is imperative that you check with the person before nominating them for an award that carries a resulting opportunity (eg, an exhibition the following year) to ensure that they consent to being nominated and are capable of following through with any associated opportunities.

For most of the SALA Awards, the first round of judging is based on the nomination form and yields a selection of finalists. All applicants will be advised of the outcome of their application via the email address provided in the form.

The next round of judging is based on real-life visits to finalists’ exhibitions where possible. Judges will visit the exhibition that corresponds to the registration ID number provided in the nomination form, so it is important that nominees in multiple exhibitions pay careful attention to which registration ID they provide.

Most award winners are announced at the conclusion of the Festival.

The registration ID number that you provide in the award nomination form will determine which exhibition the judges will visit if you are a finalist. Please provide the registration ID number that corresponds with the exhibition containing the artwork referred to in your award nomination form.

Unless specified otherwise, the images that you upload into the award nomination form should be of one artwork. One image should be of the whole artwork, and any other images can show close-up details, texture, or alternative angles of the work.

Yes, if you nominate an artwork for an award, it needs to be displayed in your SALA exhibition in the same year. The Advertiser Contemporary Art Award is an exception.

The artwork that you submit in the award nomination form should be made since the last SALA Festival (August 2023). If your exhibition contains a mix of old and new work, only the new work can be submitted in the awards.

We reccommend that you start a draft of your Award nomination form, and wait until closer to the deadline to actually submit it. This may allow you more time to develop the work and get an image of it for the form. 

Previous finalists have been selected based on material that was indicative of an artwork that wasn’t finished at the time of submission (but was completed for the exhibition in August).

Most of the SALA Awards aim to recognise excellence in an individual artwork.
If an artwork is created by two or more artists working in collaboration, that artwork is eligible for the SALA Awards. However, a group of artists creating individual works for a group exhibition will need to nominate their works individually for the SALA Awards.

Judging visits are not disclosed to nominees, so it is imperative that any changes to exhibition opening times are communicated with the SALA team via phone or email as soon as you become aware of them. Judging cannot be guaranteed when details of the registration change.

An artist biography can be described as a resume in paragraph form. It details things like relevant study and your top achievements. These are usually written in third-person (eg. “The artist was born in Adelaide”) but will be accepted in first-person (eg. “I was born in Adelaide”) unless stipulated otherwise.

Things you can include:

  • relevant study, degrees, qualifications, or noting if the artist is self-taught
  • achievements, awards (won or shortlisted for), mentorships (formal or informal), residencies, studios or collectives you may be part of 
  • if you do not have much experience, you may supplement the above with:
    • your influences (other artists)
    • what motivates or inspires your work (persons, events, experiences, politics). Usually an artist’s inspiration is saved for an artist statement, but if a statement is not also requested, it is acceptable to include this information in the artist biography (word-count permitting).

An artist statement usually touches on themes, influences, concepts, materials, and processes in your art. It may be written in first or third person.

Broadly speaking, an artist statement can be about your practice in general, or it can relate to a specific artwork. In the context of the SALA Awards, you may want cover both, depending on the word count and what is most important or the judges to know (this may be different for each artist).

For a shorter word count, focus on succinctly conveying the most important things for the judges to know about the artwork in the context of that award. If an award is tied to a theme, ensure that the connection to the theme is conveyed in your statement. For example, an artwork submitted to the Inspiring SA Art in Science Award may not have an obvious tie to science at first glance, but the artist can use their statement to explain the connection (eg. perhaps there is a significant link to science in their process of making).

There are free online tools that you can use to reduce the size of your jpg file (like this one).

If you are using a program such as Photoshop (or equivalent) there is often a Save for Web option that use can use to reduce the file size.

Most of our award forms have a limit of 10MB (10,000kb) per image file.

Jpeg (.jpg) is the most common image format. We recommend that you use this filetype when submitting for the awards (unless asked otherwise) as it will be more likely to save at a reasonable size that our system can handle.

PNG (.png) is a high quality image format but can be higher than is necessary for images that are only going to be viewed on a screen.

TIFF (.tif) is a filetype that will not be accepted by our system. This filetype is meant for files that you are not finished working on, and holds on to all possible data in case you need it in the editing process (meaning that the file is quite big). Try exporting a jpeg from your TIFF file and save them as two separate things.

Please check out our resource dedicated to photographing your work.

You might also consider contracting a photographer to take high quality images of your work.

Header image by David Hume, winner of the 2022 SALA Solo Photographic Opportunity