The city is starting to buzz with activity as venues get staged, signs get erected, & temporary hubs get established. Creative energy is starting to flow as the entire city becomes an art exhibit. Take a step downtown: you can feel it. Art Prize is here, and for the next 19 days, so will people and artists from all over the world.
Having just moved our offices downtown Grand Rapids, this will be the first year our team will be working amongst the energy Art Prize brings to this city. And we’re looking forward to taking it all in. But having grown up in Grand Rapids, I’ve watched Art Prize help transform this city into a thought-leader in commerce and development. With over 1500 individual works of art, over 3 square blocks of downtown, in venues from world-renowned museums and private galleries to public parks, restaurants and local coffee shops – to experience Art Prize, you must experience Grand Rapids.
The best part – and why Art Prize really matters – is that the event has fostered Grand Rapids into a cultural meeting place.
The event itself is a collaboration of minds who have crafted something truly inspired. They’ve successfully integrated tenets of economic/community development, social equity, environmental sustainability, artistic expression, popular votes, and professional critique. It’s really quite impressive.
It’s easy to see why the Art Prize event has received such acclaim. In fact, Art Prize has now transcended Grand Rapids, debuting in Dallas in 2016 – a city with almost 6 Million more people than GR! They’ve built something that other people, in other places have a true desire to replicate. And they’ve built it so well, that it’s going to be incredibly easy to do so. So in the words of Spock – “Your logic is sound [Art Prize Developers]”
But back to why Art Prize matters so much. Though all of these are remarkable too: it’s not the money it brings to the city, or the visitors exposed to our wonderful little second-city, it’s not even the fact that venues are local businesses (some of whom you may never have visited if it weren’t for the event). No, it matters because of the art. With a seemingly all-out assault on the fine arts in schools and a discouraging amount of employment opportunities in creative industries; events like Art Prize make creativity mainstream again…if only for a little while. For someone in a creative (and increasingly analytical) based industry, I can see emphasis on the arts waning in our world. There has become “too many account managers, not enough creatives”. Aspiring professionals are told these days that art, music, and design are subjective industries and therefore extremely difficult to succeed in. Which to a certain extent is true, but that just makes it more vital for people continuing to pursue their passions for the arts. This event might be modernizing our little city, but in it’s own significant way, Art Prize is keeping art alive for everyone. And if you’re an aspiring artist, you should probably enter Art Prize 2016 because the contest yields the winners some serious cash (even though the exposure is what really matters, RIGHT?). Check it out.
All to say, I’m proud of our city. I’m excited to be down here during Art Prize. And I hope to see you wandering the art adorned streets of GR soon. Feel free to stop by our offices and say hi while you’re down here!