Southern Prize Guidelines

The South Arts Southern Prize and State Fellowships acknowledge, support and celebrate the highest quality artistic work being created in the American South. The program is open to individual artists living in the South Arts region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. This program is open only to visual artists and will expand to other disciplines in the future. The application deadline is December 15, 2017.

The guidelines are below and may also be downloaded as a PDF. We have also developed an FAQ to supplement the guidelines with answers to some frequently asked questions.

South Arts State Fellowships; $5,000

The South Arts State Fellowship is a state-specific prize awarded to the artists whose work reflects the best of the visual arts in the South. A review panel will select one winner per eligible state, with artistic excellence being the sole criterion. A total of nine fellowships will be awarded. Each will be awarded a $5,000 South Arts State Fellowship, and will compete for one of the two South Arts Prizes. State Fellowship recipients will be required to attend an awards ceremony.

South Arts Southern Prize; $25,000 and $10,000

The nine State Fellowship recipients will compete for the South Arts Southern Prize. The $25,000 Southern Prize will be awarded to the artist whose work exhibits the highest artistic excellence, and one finalist will be awarded a $10,000 Prize, also based on artistic excellence. The Southern Prize winner will also receive a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences. A national panel will convene to evaluate the body of work represented by the nine State Fellowship recipients and select the Prize winner and Finalist. Winners of the South Arts Prize will be announced at the awards ceremony.

An exhibition of works by the State Fellowship winners may be organized during the award period.

Guidelines for Applicants


Applicants to the South Arts State Fellowship program, and by extension the South Arts Southern Prize, should meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be an individual artist, creating original works of art.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Cannot be a full-time high school or undergraduate student.
  • Be a United States citizen, lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence, or have permission from the Department of Homeland Security to work permanently in the U.S.
  • Have been a legal resident within the nine states served by South Arts where they are seeking a State Fellowship for a period of at least two years immediately before the application deadline.
  • Expect to maintain residency in their current state of residence during the Fellowship award year (April 17, 2018 – June 30, 2019)
  • Submit a complete and accurate application.

This is the second year of the program, and only visual artists are eligible. (Film/video/media art is not eligible in this year. However, if your experimental or mixed media work includes video/film and/or sound, you may apply.)

The following categories describe all of the types of visual arts eligible for this year’s program. We ask you to select the category that best describes the pieces you are submitting. These categorizations are only for South Arts’ internal use; the jurors will not know which category the applicant identified, and there are no limits or quotas for any category. If you wish to submit images of work that does not all fit within one of these categories, please check Multidisciplinary.

  • Crafts: Craft artists have work made substantially by hand, where the skill and technique for manipulating the material is primary to the artistic process. Materials may include clay, fiber, glass, leather, metal, paper, plastic, wood.
  • Drawing: Artists applying for drawing should have works created using the techniques, materials, media, and methods of drawing, printmaking, collage, book arts, or graphic design.
  • Experimental: Artists applying with experimental work should have works that explore new (non-traditional) ideas and/or technology (see eligibility above if your work incorporates film/video/media).
  • Painting: Artists that paint should have original works that involve painting of any kind on any surface.
  • Photography: Artists applying for their photography should have works in which photographic technique is the primary element. This includes works that involve digital or software manipulation of photographs.
  • Sculpture: Sculpture artists are those that create three-dimensional artwork by shaping or combining materials such as plastic, wire, sound, text, light, stone, metal, glass, or wood.
  • Mixed Media: The combination of multiple visual art forms into a single artwork (see eligibility above if your work incorporates film/video/media).
  • Multidisciplinary: Artists who wish to submit images of work in two or more mediums (such as some ceramics pieces and some drawings) should check Multidisciplinary

Artists applying in the visual arts must choose only one of these categories under which they submit their work. Only one application per artist per award period is accepted. Artists who are awarded a South Arts State Fellowship are ineligible to apply for another fellowship for six years. The winner and finalist of the South Arts Prize may not re-apply for a period of 10 years.

Application Requirements

The application to the South Arts State Fellowship competition must contain:

  • Online application
  • A $25 application fee is required (If the application fee creates a barrier, the applicant may request a waiver from South Arts by contacting
  • Work samples
    • Submit up to 10 high resolution images of your work. Any detail images must be included in that number.
    • Artwork must have been completed between 2015-2017.
    • Video art is not being considered for this year’s Fellowships and Prize; however, if your work includes video or sound, you may include video or sound files within your total of 10 items.
    • You are welcome to include a brief explanation of concept, process, and/or technique for each piece in the ‘Description’ field of each file, but this is not required.
  • Documentation and Demographic Information (for South Arts’ use only; this information will not be shared with the panelists):
    • Professional resumé: This summary should include exhibitions, educational background, arts-related employment, residencies, awards, honors, teaching, publications, and/or other pertinent experience. The resumé can be as brief as one page and up to five pages.
    • Birth year
    • Gender
    • Race/Ethnicity
    • Applicants may be asked to submit a copy of their official state I.D./driver’s license as proof of residency later in the process, in order to confirm eligibility.

Review Criteria & Process

The panelist review will be anonymous. To avoid possible bias, all artwork samples must be submitted without the artist’s name.

The panels will make their selections based on demonstration of artistic excellence.

Notification & Award Process

Artists will receive notifications of their award status by late February 2018. State Fellowships will be awarded as $5,000 cash prizes, and will be disbursed at the awards ceremony. The awards are non-matching.

The winner and finalist for the South Arts Southern Prize will be selected from the State Fellowship winners by a second panel. The South Arts Southern Prize winners will be announced at the awards ceremony. The South Arts Southern Prize is $25,000, and the finalist prize is $10,000. These amounts are in addition to the State Fellowships that the South Arts Southern Prize winner and finalist will have already received and are non-matching. In total, the South Arts Southern Prize winner and finalist will receive $30,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Expectations of Winners

Publicity and Awards Ceremony

Winners of the South Arts State Fellowships are required to attend the South Arts State Fellowship & Prize awards ceremony, which will take place on April 16, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana to receive their cash prizes. Winners’ travel and accommodations for the awards ceremony will be paid for. One round-trip flight (or rental car coverage) and one hotel room will be provided, booked by South Arts. This offer does not extend to any of the winners’ guests.

It is possible that the winners of the State Fellowships (and, therefore, the South Arts Southern Prize winner and finalist) will be invited to exhibit their work all together in a venue or venues of South Arts’ choosing. Should this occur, winners will receive more information about possible venues and dates, and will be solicited for a small selection of their work. The South Arts Southern Prize winner and finalist should expect to display more work if an exhibit is arranged.

Use of Funds

There is no requirement for how Fellowship and Prize winners use their awards. South Arts hopes the money would go towards pursuit of artistic achievement, but winners are not required to submit their use of the funds for approval. The funds are expected to be used between April 17, 2018 and June 30, 2019. State Fellowship and South Arts Southern Prize winners should note that the award money constitutes taxable income, and should file accordingly. Fellowship and Prize winners should expect to write a one-page final report and submit images (if appropriate) on how they used the fellowship winnings.

Expectations of South Arts Southern Prize Winners

Publicity and Speaking Engagements

Additional exposure – in the form of speaking engagements, increased publicity, and more opportunities to display work through South Arts – can be reasonably expected by South Arts Prize winners.

South Arts Overview

South Arts, one of the country’s six Regional Arts Organizations, was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. We offer a portfolio of activities designed to address the issues important to our region and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. We are building a better South through the arts.

We work in partnership with the state arts agencies of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. South Arts is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, member states, foundations, businesses, and individuals.

South Arts is committed to impacting the careers of artists in our region, including showcasing these artists’ works throughout the South Arts region, nationally and internationally, and working to make the South a viable and rewarding place for artists to live and work.

The Southern Prize is supported by South Arts’ member state arts agencies, corporations, and individuals, and powered by The Hambidge Center.

Many questions about these guidelines are addressed in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Do you have further questions or comments about this program? Please contact or call 404.874.7244 x10.