Art award winners receive their prize money nine months late

Cambodian artist Svay Sareth won Best Emerging Artist Award in the sculpture category and the Overall Best Emerging Artist Award. He had received only half of his total prize money of US$50,000 then. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

After an almost nine-month-long wait, the five winners of the Prudential Eye Awards, one of the biggest art prizes in the region, have finally received their cash prizes.

The winners were announced in Singapore in January at an awards ceremony held at Marina Bay Sands. They sent a letter to the press in September saying none of them, except Cambodian artist Svay Sareth, had received their cash prizes of between US$20,000 (S$27,300) and US$30,000.

Svay, who won two awards - Best Emerging Artist Award in the sculpture category, with a US$20,000 cash prize, and the Overall Best Emerging Artist Award, with a US$30,000 cash prize - had received only half of his total prize money then.

The other winners are Manish Nai from India, Shumon Ahmed from Bangladesh, Nguyen Trinh Thi from Vietnam and Huang Po-chih from Taiwan.

The winners' letter said they had been told they would receive payment by a certain time, but the payment deadlines were repeatedly postponed.

The awards, which seek to recognise the best emerging artists in the Asia-Pacific, was founded by British-Italian art lovers David and Serenella Ciclitira, in partnership with Saatchi Gallery and insurance firm Prudential.

It is administered by Parallel Contemporary Art, a non-profit organisation founded by the Ciclitiras with the aim of supporting emerging artists.

When contacted last month, the director of the awards, Mr Niru Ratnam, told The Straits Times that "all prize monies to the award winners of the 2016 edition have been transferred", although the artists said they had not yet received the money.

Mr Ratnam said the delay was due to a hold-up in paperwork and administrative mistakes by its former finance director.

"As soon as the founders learnt of his administrative mistakes, they made moves to make sure the process got back on track immediately," he said.

Artist Shumon, 39, who won the Best Emerging Artist Award in the photography category, tells The Straits Times he received his prize money at the end of September. "I am relieved that our long wait is finally over," he says.

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