John Byrne Award Trebles Annual Prize

[IMAGE: John Byrne and David Eustace with previous award-winner Harriet Bourhill at The John Byrne Award Ceremony, February 2018.]

By Danielle Riddell

As we head into the beginning of the semester, here’s some exciting news to get your creative brain in gear: The John Byrne Award has announced that it has tripled its annual prize to a staggering £7,500. 

And the award’s stringent age criteria have been relaxed to allow anyone over 16 to submit a piece of work – this includes those over 30, who were previously prohibited from submitting. This is fantastic news, particularly for mature students and new students who are looking to dip their toes into the creative arts and literary world.

CEO Niall Dolan said: “£7,500 is a big top prize, but it’s only appropriate given the standard of work on our platform – we want to reflect the quality of work we receive and that’s why we felt we had to raise our top prize so significantly.”

In addition to their annual prize, The John Byrne Award also offers a monthly competition which offers a £250 prize per month. However, for September only, the prize has been raised to £500, to celebrate the changes implemented.

The John Byrne award is a free-to-enter award for all manner of creative disciplines, named in honour of Paisley born artist John Byrne. Paintings, photography and prose are just a small sample of the mediums which are accepted but they’re also in the market for meaningful non-fiction and essays which may be more scientifically inclined rather than creative. 

Entries are not judged purely on aesthetics: work, according to their online criteria, should prompt the “questioning and development of values appropriate to our modern age.”  In addition to being over the age of 16, you must be living or studying in Scotland to enter. 

Niall Dolan John Byrne 2018 Awards
[IMAGE: CEO Niall Dolan and John Byrne at the award ceremony, February 2018]


Topics such as gender, politics, cultural heritage, and environmentalism are encouraged, though are by no means a limitation on what you might focus on. And inclusivity is paramount, according to Mr. Dolan.  

He added: “Good ideas can come from people of any age, and everyone is better-off for having access to a greater diversity of constructive comments on the world we live in. It is our sincere hope that The John Byrne Award helps people in Scotland to share their life experiences, and so make everyone’s lives better.”

David Eustace, Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University and John Byrne Award Ambassador also said: “The John Byrne Award is there to support, encourage and inspire folk from all walks of life. People who wish to create, make or explore a multitude of mediums, arts or crafts, with very different approaches. The award embraces diversity on a foundation of common values, a wish to share, a desire to question, and hope to continually learn.”

Submissions to the award must be made online via their website (, with monthly submissions closing on the last day of the month at 23:59pm (except in February.) The annual submission for this year closes 23:59pm on January 31 2020, with the award ceremony being held at a yet to be determined date in February of the same year.

What are you waiting for? Get those creative and academic brains working and maybe you’ll be the lucky one to snag September’s £500 prize, or even that £7,500.