ROOM AT THE TOP: HOW CREATIVITY HAS TURNED INTO COMPETITIONS (AND THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THEM ...)

LITERARY AWARDS

Booker: The intrigue, drama and controversy that have surrounded this award - founded in 1968 by the Booker food distribution company - are worthy of a novel all its own. The prize (pounds 20,000) is given for the best full-length novel of the year; each of the six short-listed authors - who must be either UK, Eire or Commonwealth citizens - receives pounds 1,000. Previous winners' list reads like a Who's Who of modern English literature including William Golding, Salman Rushdie, Paul Scott, AS Byatt, VS Naipaul, Thomas Keneally, Nadine Gordimer, Pat Barker, Anita Brookner, Roddy Doyle, Penelope Lively and Penelope Fitzgerald.

Whitbread: Founded in 1971 and in many people's eyes more prestigious than the Booker. Aims to promote contemporary British writing, with an overall winner (pounds 21,000 prize), plus categories for novel, first novel, biography/ autobiography, and poetry, the winners of which each receive pounds 2,000. Authors must have been resident in the UK or Eire for three years. Previous winners include Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Kate Atkinson.

Betty Trask: Founded in 1984 by romantic novelist Betty Trask. Aims to encourage "good, popular writing". Open to previously unpublished writers aged under 35. Commonwealth citizens may submit a first work of fiction "of a romantic or traditional nature". Total prize fund pounds 25,000, to be used for foreign travel which will be beneficial to the winners' writing.

Orange: In only three years the mobile phone company must feel the pounds 30,000 first prize is money well spent. The women's fiction award - with no restrictions on age, subject matter or country of residence - has caught the public's attention in a big way. Helen Dunmore won in 1996 for A Spell of Winter, Anne Michaels in 1997 for Fugitive Pieces (now a regular on the book club circuit), and Carol Shields in 1998 for Larry's Party.

Hawthornden: Britain's oldest literary prize was founded in 1919. Awarded to an English writer for the best work of imaginative literature - not necessarily fiction. Worth pounds 10,000. Previous winners include Evelyn Waugh, VS Naipaul, William Trevor and Alan Bennett.

IMPAC/Dublin: The richest of the lot, worth IRpounds 100,000 (about pounds 90,000). Founded in 1996 and awarded to a work of fiction written and published in the English language, or one written in a language other than English and published in English translation. The last two winners have both been won by writers in translation - the Spaniard Javier Marias and the Romanian Herta Muller. The inaugural winner was an Australian, David Malouf.

WH Smith's Thumping Good Read: Founded in 1992 by the WH Smith group to encourage customers to try novels by authors who it feels deserve greater recognition. Entries not required. The winner, who receives pounds 5,000, is chosen by WH Smith customers through a competition format in the company's Bookcase magazine. Winners include Robert Harris for Fatherland and Dominick Dunne for A Season in Purgatory.

Heywood Hill: Founded in 1994 by the Duke of Devonshire in conjunction with the Heywood Hill Bookshop, it aims to "celebrate lifetime contributions to the enjoyment of books". Patrick O'Brien and Penelope Fitzgerald are among those who have received the pounds 10,000 prize.

William Hill Sports Book of the Year: Reflecting the growing respectability of sports literature over the last decade, the William Hill has - potentially - the best prize - pounds 3,500 plus a free pounds 500 bet and a day at the races. Founded in 1989, it was the only award Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch (1992) ever won.

VISUAL ARTS AWARDS

The Jerwood: Founded in 1994, one of a number of philanthropic prizes offered by the Jerwood Foundation for creative excellence. Open to artists of any age living and working in Britain, with a first prize of pounds 30,000. Gary Hume was last year's winner. There's also a Jerwood Prize for Applied Arts.

NatWest: Total fund of pounds 36,000 makes this Britain's richest art prize - pounds 26,000 to the winner, pounds 1,000 to each of the other shortlisted artists. Founded in 1990 and open to artists aged 35 or under, and living, working or studying in Britain.

Turner: It was very much par for the course when the work on this year's Turner shortlist included canvases of elephant dung and sculptures of entrails and genitalia. Founded in 1984 by the patrons of the Tate Gallery to honour the artist JMW Turner, it is almost guaranteed to scandalise, with its promotion of a succession of conceptual and installation artists whose talents have often been lost on the public. The making - in part - of Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst. Open to British artists under 50 for an "outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work". Sponsored by Channel 4. Prize: pounds 20,000.

Hugo Boss: The fashion label has collaborated with the Guggenheim Museum on a number of special projects in the arts. Their art prize, founded in 1996 and worth $50,000 (about pounds 30,000), has no age or nationality restrictions.

John Moores: One of the older and more prestigious art prizes, founded in 1957 by the founder of the Littlewoods organisation, and one of Liverpool's most famous sons. Awarded every two years, and restricted to painting. Artists - amateur or professional - must be based in the UK. First prize of pounds 20,000, plus 10 prizes of pounds 1,000. Winners include David Hockney and Euan Uglow.

POP MUSIC AWARDS

Mercury: Founded in 1992, with the aim of being pop music's equivalent of the Booker. Sales or size of record company have no relevance in the award (worth pounds 20,000) for the Best Album of the Year. Hence last week's surprise success of Gomez, the Leeds band who recorded their winning album in a garage.

Music of Black Origin: Hip-hop, R&B, gospel, dance, reggae and jazz are the relevant genres, but contenders, provided they are British, can come from any ethnic background. Founded in 1996. No prize money.

The Brits: Those who associate the Brit Awards with the Nineties era of Britpop may be surprised to learn that they first took place in 1977 - an internal industry event that was not televised. They've been annual only since 1982. Now one of the high spots - and most hyped - of the pop music calendar. Enjoyed its share of controversy in 1996 when Jarvis Cocker of Pulp had his altercation with Michael Jackson. No prize money for award winners, who are divided into various categories.

MTV: Pan-European pop fest courtesy of the satellite TV channel. It was a big moment for the Spice Girls when they won in 1997.

NME: Pop music weekly the New Musical Express stands partly in opposition to the Brits and the Mercury Awards, with its emphasis firmly on "indie" bands.

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