The Visual Art Open (VAO) launched in 2016 to offer both emerging and established artists the opportunity to develop their career and passion for the arts. The competition welcomed applications from artists all over the world working in either painting and mixed media, photography, sculpture, illustration and drawing and young artists aged 21 and under.
In March 2017, a panel of art expert judges whittled down all the applications to just 25 with 5 finalists per category going through to the final round. For the first time in November at the Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair, the VAO Finalists were showcased together in a public exhibition. Artists from all over the world including New York, Tokyo and the UK congregated at the Fair in an official prize giving ceremony. The overall winner of the competition received a prize worth over £5,000 including a solo stand at the Fair in 2018 and a commercial mentoring package. A cash prize of £250.00 will be award to the winner of each category.