ArtPrize, sponsored by the DTE Energy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of DTE Energy, is recognized as the most-attended public art event on the planet according to The Art Newspaper, and was recently highlighted in The New York Times’ 52 Places To Go in 2016. If you haven’t been, it’s a great reason to plan a trip to Grand Rapids sometime between September 21 and October 9 to experience what it has to offer.

Executive Director of ArtPrize Christian Gaines shares more information about this not-to-be-missed event and why it is important to greater Michigan.

What is ArtPrize?

ArtPrize, founded in 2009, is a radically open international art competition and festival decided equally by public vote and expert jury. Every fall, over 400,000 attendees descend upon three

ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines

ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines. Photo credit: ArtPrize

square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan for 19 days — where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters.

Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown in over 170 venues — and it’s all free and open to the public. Anyone 18 and older can be an artist, and any space within the ArtPrize district can be a venue. Each entry is in the running for $500,000 in cash prizes, half decided by public vote and half decided by a jury of art experts. In this surprising and delightful way, visitors can compare and contrast what the experts think to what the public thinks, creating a tension around which a million different conversations happen about what art is and why it matters. You can learn more about ArtPrize and get some hard statistics here.

What is new to ArtPrize this year?

ArtPrize is an evolving experiment, committed to innovation and expansion — and to bringing surprising and challenging work to the event. New education programming and cutting-edge technology bring the possibility of exploration and discovery. Here are just a few examples of what is new at ArtPrize this year.

Neighborhood HUBsThis year’s Neighborhood HUBs bring a suite of visitor services to each neighborhood in the ArtPrize district and serve as entry point to the event. The HUBS are ArtPrize-operated service locations that provide visitors the opportunity to register to vote, pick up an event guide and maps, as well as inform visitors about neighborhood-specific tours and events, give ArtPrize mobile app support, and offer ArtPrize Eight Merchandise and Metro Passes.

STEAM Education –  A new partnership with Switch will bring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education to ArtPrize Eight. The STEAM Village will offer immersive technology applications and hands-on learning stations throughout the event at the HUB/HQ.  Students, families and visitors will interact and experiment at Switch-funded Planet3 and Code.org software demonstrations, a virtual reality painting experience, tinkering stations, and Northwood Awakening and Higher Ground – the 2015  ArtPrize Public Vote Grand Prize winners.

Mobile AppThe ArtPrize Eight mobile app has been updated for expanded features and capability to allow mobile voter registration, user-traffic management and broader content in a flexible design layout. Creating an authentic visitor experience on the mobile app enhances the way audiences are able to engage with contemporary art. The ArtPrize mobile app — now available for download for iOS and Android devices — provides a space for visitors to explore off the beaten path and access all the event has to offer right from their phones.

Why is ArtPrize important to West Michigan? 

Every fall, ArtPrize brings an economic boom to Grand Rapids. A 2013 economic impact study of ArtPrize, conducted by Anderson Economic Group, revealed that ArtPrize generates over $22 million each year in the local economy. The annual event’s influx of visitors fills the city’s hotels, restaurants and stores and has created over 200 jobs. This economic impact has provided ArtPrize the opportunity to partner with the Right Place, DGRI, Start Garden, Experience Grand Rapids, MEDC and Creative Many Michigan to precipitate numerous regional talent attraction and recruitment programs. Visitor data gathered gathered in 2015 revealed a $27 million plus economic impact on Grand Rapids during ArtPrize Seven.

Over 400,000 visitors will descend upon Grand Rapids to experience the festival this month. In this unique context, ArtPrize inevitably highlights the many gems this city has to offer while providing a platform for any artist to showcase their work.

Where can we go for more information?

The ArtPrize website is full of great information and will help you plan your trip to Grand Rapids.