FT and OppenheimerFunds launch Emerging Voices arts awards 2016

Our awards seek the best films, fiction and art from Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Africa
Cristina Planas, winner of the Emerging Voices art award 2015 © FT

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Much of the attention devoted to emerging market countries focuses on their economies and politics. The Financial Times and OppenheimerFunds’ 2016 Emerging Voices awards demonstrate our organisations’ commitment to learning more about — and telling readers about — the cultural lives and achievements of those countries and their people.

This is the second year that we have run these awards to recognise the most innovative and inspiring art, film and fiction from emerging market countries. The 2015 awards — in which we gave prizes to the Peruvian artist Cristina Planas, Malaysian film director Yuhang Ho and Nigerian novelist Chigozie Obioma — achieved everything we hoped for. Our aim was not just to recognise outstanding artists: it was also to bring their work to a wider audience.

Last year, we set out to find the best artists in Latin America and the Caribbean, the best film-makers in Asia-Pacific and the best fiction writers in Africa and the Middle East. The response was overwhelming. We received 872 entries overall and the standard was exceptionally high.

We are hoping for an even bigger response this year.

In 2016, we will be sticking to different art forms for different regions, but we will change things around. In this year’s awards, we will be looking for the best art from Africa and the Middle East, the best films from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the best fiction from Asia-Pacific.

Entries will open on February 1 and will close on May 2. The awards are open to nationals and passport holders of these countries, wherever they are living.

On June 6 we will announce a longlist of 10 artists in each category. The judges will be, as they were last year, distinguished artists, film-makers and writers, as well as critics and academics.

The judging panels will be announced over the next few weeks. They will include some of the judges from last year and some new faces.

The judges will choose a winner in each category, who will receive a $40,000 prize, and two runners-up, who will each receive $5,000.

The winners and runners-up will be announced at a gala dinner at the New York Public Library on September 26. They will be profiled on FT.com and in a colour magazine that we will hand out at the end of the awards and which will appear with the newspaper worldwide the next day.

What sorts of works can you enter?
Books must have been published in English or in English translation between January 1, 2015 and August 31, 2016. Each imprint may submit up to three books.

Artists can submit up to 12 works, which can be paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations or mixed media. They must have been produced since September 2011. Submissions in the art category should include an explanation of up to 500 words about the works and their context, written in English.

Films should be no longer than 40 minutes, including opening and closing credits and, if they are not in English, they must be subtitled in English. They must have been completed or be available for distribution between January 1 2015 and March 31 2016.

Links to submissions guidlines can be found under Category Overview.

What will the judges be looking for?
Distinctive voices, engaging images and narratives, and a sense of place. If last year’s deliberations are any guide, the judges’ discussions will be lengthy, detailed and impassioned.

Last year’s longlists included artists well known in their own countries, some with worldwide reputations and some who had received little exposure. We welcome entries from all these groups.

As the chair of the judging panels, I can say that we learnt a huge amount from the longlisted entries in 2015. We expect to do the same this year.

The winners of the 2015 Emerging Voices awards
Chigozie Obioma — fiction prizewinnerCristina Planas — art prizewinnerYuhang Ho — film prizewinner
The Fishermen: mythic quality unpicks dysfunction in Nigerian societyThe Peruvian sculptor spurns decorative art for work that ‘bothers’ herTrespassed is an intimate story that reveals much about Malaysian life and society
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