The biennial ARTS GOLD AWARDS national art competition was initiated by the Central Otago District Arts Trust in 2011 to celebrate innovation and excellence in New Zealand visual arts as well as provide Central Otago artists further opportunity to exhibit their works alongside those of their New Zealand contemporaries. Now, the Arts Gold Awards are driven by a selection of representatives from the Central Otago District Arts Trust, Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery and the Central Otago Art Society.

Artists from throughout New Zealand are invited to enter these prestigious awards which offer five award categories and a prize pool of $13,000. The Arts Gold Awards are open to all New Zealand citizens or permanent residents 18 years and over. The awards typically receive well over 300 submissions of which 45-55 works are selected, by eminent New Zealand art adjudicators, to show in the finalists exhibition - based in Central Otago. Top award winners are announced at an opening celebration.