This was not to be a run-of-the-mill art competition. Some very creative minds back in 2009 invented ArtPrize, where any artist in the world could compete with no limitations. The venue would not be contained to one place- if a property owner in Grand Rapids wanted their storefront to become a “canvas,” it became one. And the public would vote to decide who would win the cash prizes.
So on September 23rd, 2009- 1,262 artists from 14 countries and 41 states entered their pieces for ArtPrize, and Grand Rapids wasn’t quite prepared for the 200,000 people that arrived for the two-week event. Over the past years, ArtPrize has featured thousands of artists artists, over $1.5 million prizes and brought over one million visitors to Grand Rapids.
In 2018, ArtPrize organizers announced that the event would occur every other year with a smaller, scaled-back event known as Project 1 held during the off years.
Going forward, ArtPrize will look a bit different as the original organizers decided to turn all creative, technological, and communications platforms over to a new partnership between Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the city of Grand Rapids, and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.
Those three organizations will, together, determine how the event will look going forward.