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Call runs: January 28- March 1.

Mermaids have graced the City of Norfolk for twenty years. Today mermaids can be found throughout downtown and in neighborhoods. One thing has remained since their original appearance: they are truly loved by young and old, visitors and residents alike. (More information can be found at

In celebration, the Virginia Arts Festival will be holding a mermaid visual arts competition, encouraging members of the community to join in the celebration and create a two-dimensional mermaid of their own. Works will be viewed and selected by a committee. Cash prizes will be awarded in two categories: youth ($250 cash prize) and adult, 18 years old and older, ($1,000 cash prize). Select works will also be on display during the Virginia Arts Festival’s spring season, throughout the Downtown area. Exact locations will be announced at a later time.

The call for artists, from novice through professional, are encouraged to participate, but must have a tie to the Norfolk region.

Artworks will be selected on the basis of originality, creativity, understanding of the spirit and history of the Norfolk mermaid, and craftsmanship. The call is open to artists working in all two-dimensional mediums. Three-dimensional works will not be eligible. Please see the guidelines below regarding size, delivery, sales and submission timelines. Please note that shipping is not an option for this open call.

● Artists can submit up to two (2) completed artworks for individual consideration
● All works must be new, original works completed within the last 3 months
● Artwork logistics/size restrictions:
o Maximum object size: 36”h x 60”w x 1"d, two-dimensional and no more than ten pounds in weight.
o Large scale works/installations and works with video projection, neon, or other electrical requirements must be clearly outlined with submission materials. All equipment must be provided with artwork and must be able to transport by hand.
o Artists with complex installation requirements may be asked to assist with install.
o Compositions based on published material or other artists’ work are NOT considered original and are not eligible. Paintings based on another person’s photograph (even if it’s copyright-free) are NOT eligible. Collaborative pieces are allowed, though one artist must be the main point-of-contact.
o Acceptable media includes: Oil, oil pastel, soft pastel, charcoal, graphite, ink, colored pencil, watercolor, casein, gouache, acrylic, digital art, textile, mixed media (all water media or oil based media); silver or other metal point, collage; mixed media collage; handmade paper; wax and other crayons on paper or board; printmaking (etching, mezzotint, lithography, woodcut, monotype, mono print, aquatint). Photography, with the exception of minor elements incorporated in a collage, will not be considered. Sculpture and glass pieces will not be considered.
o We reserve the right to refuse entries at our sole discretion. All artwork must be considered family friendly.
o Permanent, full-time employees of Virginia Arts Festival and their immediate families are not eligible.
o Every attempt will be made to secure and protect artwork while on the premises of the Jay and Clay Barr Education Center and inside performance halls. You agree to indemnify, release, defend and hold harmless the Virginia Arts Festival and its employees, officers, volunteers and agents for any expenses of liability they suffer as a result of any harm, damage, destruction or thievery of artwork or related materials while artwork and materials are on Virginia Arts Festival property and in its performance halls.
o You agree to grant the Virginia Arts Festival the right to photograph video or record the likeness of artwork for use by television, films, radio, printed media, etc. to further the aims of any Virginia Arts Festival activity. We encourage photographing, filming and social media sharing and the use of #vaartsfest
● Artists are responsible for round-trip, in-person delivery of artwork to the Jay and Clay Barr Education Center.
● Artist must certify that the work is in such condition to withstand ordinary strains of transportation and handling.
● Artwork will be returned packed in the same or similar materials as received.
● Artwork will be available for optional, exclusive sale by VAF during run of the exhibition.
● Commission split: 50% to Artist; 50% to VAF Education and Community Engagement fund.
● Artists must provide high-resolution image for selection committee and for general PR use.
● Artwork must be picked up by 6/7 or otherwise becomes property of Virginia Arts Festival.

Questions? Please email Katie Fenimore at

Timeline of Competition
● 1/28: Open Call begins
● 3/1: Open Call closes
● 3/11: Artists notified of acceptance/rejection
● 3/25: Artwork delivery accepted at VAF
● Weekend of 4/14: Exhibition opens at VAF Reception
● 4/17-5/25: Artworks on view at partner locations
● 5/25: Exhibition closes
● 6/3-6/7: Artwork pick-up
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