The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) was established in 2003 with a well-defined twin focus: to recognise the growing wealth of contemporary art talent in Asia, and bring the proven benefits of expressive arts to underprivileged children. The beauty of our model is that we are able to achieve both goals in an eminently sustainable way. The Sovereign Asian Art Prize, now recognised as the most prestigious prize in its field and region, raises funds by auctioning those artworks that reach the final stage of the competition. The proceeds are then shared equally between the artists and the Foundation, to be used for our charitable projects across Asia.
To find out more about our charity programmes see our ‘Who We Help’ section of the website.
A long time ago, a plan was devised by Yorkshire-born art collector and CEO of Sovereign Group, Howard Bilton, to build a Foundation in Hong Kong that used art to fund and promote art programmes. The ultimate aim was not only to elevate the profiles of mid-career contemporary artists in Asia, but also to help disadvantaged children across Asia. It wasn’t until 2003 that Howard got moving and established The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF), and consequently, The Sovereign Asian Art Prize.
“I wanted to put the best of Asian art in front of the Hong Kong public so that they could appreciate art for art’s sake whilst at the same time, and most importantly for me personally, raise money which we could use to assist disadvantaged children, “Howard explained.
“The main motivation was always philanthropic but we quickly realized that if we wanted to raise decent sums of money we had to produce a world class art prize which would get the best artists entering. So we had to offer the artists a decent prize fund and a platform which gave them international exposure to new audiences around the region. Everything had to come together,” said Howard.
Today, SAF runs a number of contemporary art prizes around the world.
The Sovereign Art Foundation is a non-profit organization and a registered charity in Hong Kong (#850895), Singapore (#201333596K), The United Kingdom (#1125885), Guernsey (#CH538) and South Africa (133-721 NPO).
We take great pride in our financial model and are incredibly fortunate in that 100% of our administrative costs are covered by the Sovereign Group, meaning we are able to channel 100% of funds raised to our charitable projects.
HOW IT WORKS
Our pledge to our donors is that we promise to spend our program dollars wisely so that thousands of children may benefit from our work.
To find out more contact The Sovereign Art Foundation today.
HISTORY OF THE PRIZES
The first Sovereign Asian Art Prize took place in 2003 and culminated in a dinner for 70 people in Hong Kong. Due to overwhelming success the Foundation expanded to London and the Sovereign European Art Prize was established in 2005. The Sovereign Art Foundation is now registered as a charity in Hong Kong, the UK, Guernsey, South Africa and Singapore and seats 350 people at its annual sell-out Gala Dinner held at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong.
In 2004 we established the Sovereign Art Foundation Fellowship in conjunction with the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) (affiliated with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund). The Foundation also started up a Schools Prize in Bahrain in 2014 in collaboration with Ibn Khldoon National School (IKNS), which was a huge success in the first year with over 800 entrants.
In 2012, we established the Sovereign Art Foundation Students Prize which is run annually in Hong Kong and invites secondary schools and Universities to submit three of the best artworks produced by students within the academic year. The Schools Prize is growing year on year and in 2015 we also established the Guernsey Schools Prize, followed by the Mauritius Schools Prize.
In 2016 we initiated the Middle East and North Africa Art Prize, which invites mid-career artists across the MENA Region to enter for the chance to win not only the prestigious title but also US$30,000, with auction proceeds going to START – an organization working with refugees, orphans and special needs children in the Middle East.
Since the inaugural Sovereign Asian Art Prize, the Sovereign Art Foundation has organised 38 gala and exhibition events worldwide – 23 in Hong Kong, five in London, four in Singapore, one in Korea, one in Guernsey, one in South Africa and one each in Istanbul, Bahrain, Johannesburg and Shanghai – and is set to establish more regional prizes in coming years.