The late Olivia Spencer Bower set up the Foundation bearing her name to give financial assistance to emerging artists or sculptors showing promise. The following is a summary of the terms of the Foundation Deed and the requirements of the Trustees as to the selection process.

1. The Awards

Each Award is for a period of 12 months commencing on 1 January. The amount is determined by the Trustees and is designed to be sufficient to enable the recipient to pursue his or her artistic endeavours for that 12 month period freed from the obligation of employment or other financial constraints. The Awards offered for 2019 and 2020 are each for $30,000.00 and will be payable in equal monthly payments.

The objects of the Foundation are to encourage and promote emerging painters and sculptors in New Zealand with particular emphasis on future artistic potential rather than financial need. It was the intention of Olivia Spencer Bower to provide the opportunity for an artist showing talent to work for one year pursuing their own direction as a painter or sculptor, freed from the necessity to seek outside employment.

2. Painting and Sculpture

Olivia Spencer Bower could be described as having been in the mainstream of the artistic spectrum and wished to assist others with similar inclinations. The Foundation Deed makes specific reference to "painting and sculpture" so the Award can only be made to painters and sculptors. This means that applications from video makers, photographers and performance artists will not, in terms of the Foundation Deed, be successful. Printmakers, Ceramic and other craft artists would be included but only as far as their works extend to "painting and sculpture".

3. Male and Female

While there is no requirement that recipients must be women or that women are to be favoured over men, the Selection Committee is comprised in such a way that women must be equal or outnumber men. The clear intent of Olivia Spencer Bower was that if there were two applicants of totally equal standing, one of each sex, the woman was to be preferred. However, it is considered rare that there will be two contenders of totally equal standing which means that there will be no bias on the grounds of gender.


4. Not To An Established Artist

The objectives of The Foundation are clear in that an Award is not to be made to a recognised, established artist. Rather the purpose of the Foundation is to assist individuals showing promise and flair but who would benefit from a 12 month period freed from any financial concerns, in which to concentrate on their abilities and so develop their artistic skills. It is expected that successful applicants will come within the following guidelines: -

* Show clear artistic potential

* Not necessarily have received formal art training

* Not represented in major collections

* Not the subject of wide critical acclaim

* Unlikely to have been the recipient of a major Award

* Clear evidence of commitment

The Award is intended for emerging artists, not established artists.

5. Commitment

With the emphasis on future artistic potential, the other essential element, in addition to the requirement to show promise or flair, is clear evidence of commitment to art. While it will not be necessary to show that the artistic course will be the only one ever pursued, there is an expectation that this will be seriously followed, not only for the term of the Award, but the following period. In addition to the requirement for commitment, the Selection Committee will be looking for an applicant of good character and standing, to raise (rather than lower) the profile of the Foundation, and the reputation of Olivia Spencer Bower.

6. Canterbury

The Foundation Deed makes it clear that the recipient is not required to reside in any specific New Zealand area during the Award but that preference is to be given to:

* Residents of Canterbury, or

* People who are prepared to reside in Canterbury during the term of the Award, or

* People who otherwise have connections with Canterbury, eg attended Ilam School of Fine Arts or Christchurch Polytech.

The Canterbury connection, while a factor, would rank below the prime requisites of artistic potential and evidence of commitment. To qualify for an award an artist must have been or resident in New Zealand for a period of not less than 5 years at anytime during his or her lifetime.


7. Award Requirements

The Successful applicant will not be required to complete a specified number of works either before or during the tenure of the Award but will be left free to pursue their own particular art form. However, there are some requirements which the holder of the Award will need to meet; some of these requirements have changed:

* There is an expectation that the Awardee will not hold any exhibitions, or make available works for sale in a structured way, certainly during the first three quarters of the award term.

* A one page half yearly update in May and November will be required from each winner of the Award to the Trustees, summarising the work being undertaken and projections for the next six months. This may follow the one page format provided by the Trustees.

* The Trustees encourage artists to donate one work from the period of their tenure or the following 12 months, to the Foundation. This will enable a valuable historical record to be built up and will assist with future marketing of the Award and previous recipients. This is only an option and not compulsory in any way.

* Under a formal agreement these works will be held by the Christchurch Art Gallery on behalf of the Trustees.


Please note the following two (2) policy award changes:


* Following two submissions to the Trustees from a group of previous years Foundation Awardees the banning of any overseas travel during the period of the award has been changed.
From 2017 onwards Awardees are now to be allowed to travel overseas but this is restricted to a total of thirty (30) days of the award year.
This change recognises the cheapness and availability of todays air travel, which did not exist when Olivia Spencer Bower set up the Foundation Deed in 1982. Above all Olivia wanted the Awardees to use the twelve (12) months of the award to work, experiment and expand their chosen art forms in New Zealand.

* In previous award years, some Awardees have been offered the opportunity to lecture and help other artists and sculptors with their work for a fee.
Such work income was previously banned under the terms of the Foundation Award.
This policy has now been changed. From 2017 Awardees can now accept outside employment limited to no more that ten (10) hours a week during the award year. There are now many more part time work opportunities which did not exist when Olivia set up the Foundation Trust Deed in 1982.