ArtPrize: Art, Entrepreneurship, and Community Building
Religion & Liberty Online

ArtPrize: Art, Entrepreneurship, and Community Building

ArtPrize 2013, September 18-October 6, will be many things. For some, it will be a chance to experience art in a unique way, all over the city of Grand Rapids, for free. For others, it will be a competition: hotly debated and fodder for discussion over the dinner table, at the water cooler and in the media. And for others, it will be a boost for local businesses.

Now in its fifth year, ArtPrize was developed by Grand Rapids native Rick DeVos. He describes the annual event as a “celebration of creativity.” Offering $560,000 in prizes, ArtPrize’s focus is on the public vote. The people who visit, view and critique the art vote, and the artist with the most votes receives $200,000. There is also a juried vote, but ArtPrize is definitely an experience of the people, not experts. In addition, much of the art from the 1500+ participating artists is for sale to the public.

For business-owners in Grand Rapids, ArtPrize has come to mean lots of people, lots of traffic, and lots of money. In 2011, it’s estimated that ArtPrize brought over $15 million to the greater Grand Rapids area. With hundreds of thousands of visitors during the 19-day event, there is food and drink to be consumed, items to be purchased and hotels needed. The ArtPrize organization believes that ArtPrize contributes more than just dollars to Grand Rapids, however:

From our perspective, communities thrive when people are given the flexibility and encouragement to be creative and a population is provided with the freedom to voice their opinions, and to just plain have fun. The Anderson study shows that small experiments like ArtPrize can grow to have significant impact, and we are pleased that our region is thriving as a result.

This year, the Acton Building will be one of the 169 venues hosting art and artists. Located at 98 E. Fulton (with the building’s main entrance on Sheldon Ave.), the recently restored historic building will feature artists Mary E. Anderson, Mic Carlson, Daniel Jacob, Phil Jensen and Jenny Lynn. The art displayed will include sculpture, textiles and oil painting.

ArtPrize has come to be a much-anticipated event for the city of Grand Rapids. It highlights the God-given creativity of the human person, the search for beauty and truth in that creativity, the joy of a community coming together, and an economic boost for businesses of every size in the area. ArtPrize truly highlights the best of the human spirit in a city-wide celebration.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.