By numbers alone, what ArtPrize does for Grand Rapids and the West Michigan community is staggering, but the smaller, intimate details of the annual event are what give it so much heart.
It’s one of the most attended public art events in the world, annually drawing in more than 500,000 visitors – that’s more than 26,000 every day. According to ArtPrize’s own annual report, the event generated $28 million in economic impact for the region in 2016 – all those artists and visitors from around the world have to eat and sleep somewhere and their dollars are a boon for local businesses.
In 2016, 1,453 works created by artists from 40 states and 44 countries were exhibited in 170 venues, including Blue Cross’ downtown Grand Rapids headquarters. As the ninth edition of this celebrated art competition draws near, set to take place Sept. 20 through Oct. 8, we’re excited to again welcome an ArtPrize artist and support the Rapid Rides to ArtPrize program, which will allow 10,000 community members experiencing income insecurity to be part of the conversation.
Above all else, conversation might be the aspect of ArtPrize that makes it so special and unique. It can’t be measured or quantified, but the dialogue sparked by art is always sure to be lively and engaging. ArtPrize drives big conversations surrounding cultural equity, access and representation, sustainability and education through its core social good pillars.
It also drives those smaller, more intimate conversations: visitors interacting with volunteers, art enthusiasts conversing with artists, strangers remarking over a shared fascination with an installation. The whole town buzzes with excitement and wonder, making it a truly one-of-a-kind event.
If you’ve never experienced ArtPrize, come with an open heart and mind ready to listen and share. Strike up a conversation with a stranger or take part in some of the events designed to expand horizons and spark thoughtful discussion. No matter how you take part, it’s worth the visit and will surely give you much to talk about.
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Photo credit: Dustin Tinney