11:51Known in the business as 'the Chichester', the competition is aiming to increase its national profile still further, thanks to increased sponsorship from wealth advisors Towry.Competition chairman Neil Lawson Baker said: 'It's major sponsorship. It enables us not to spend the whole time scratching around for money, but to be able to get on with the running of the competition.'Specifically, it enables Neil to push on with the regional prizes he has launched, in support of the national prizes which are awarded at the annual competition exhibition in Chichester.Traditionally the exhibition has been in the Minerva Theatre in November. It remains in the Minerva this year but moves to December, with the exhibition winners then being being shown in a further exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in January.'Now we are going to develop regional organisers in all of our nine regions,' Neil said. 'We are getting very close to it.'We are hoping to get maybe 2,000 or 3,000 or 4,000 entries, and only 120 pieces get shown in Chichester. The idea of the competition is for artists to be able to get their works shown and so interface with the public. If their work is not shown, they can't do that. I want to make that happen.'If we get say 150 entries from Scotland, 30 might be very good and only two get shown in Chichester, which is why we want to have best-of the region exhibitions as well. Chichester will be the first; London will be the second and then we will have all the others maybe in the spring following the exhibitions here.'Meanwhile, Neil is pushing ahead with other fund-raising initiatives including a scheme which invites people to hold dinner parties in aid of the competition and also a 100 Club scheme where regular payments are rewarded with cash prizes.In all, the competition costs around Â£130,000 a year to stage, of which Â£40,000 is awarded in prize money. Entries are now open. Artists are invited to submit drawings, paintings, original prints, art photography and wall-hung installations. You can enter up to six works online: www.thenationalopenartcompetition.com. Submission closing date September 18.
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11:12REVIEW: She Loves Me, Minerva Theatre, Chichester, until June 18.