Grand Rapids puts controversy over ArtPrize inspection fees to rest

Dec 8, 2010

Grand Rapids’ Fire Department is putting out a fire of sorts this week. They’re waiving thousands of dollars in inspection fees related to this year’s ArtPrize event.

Most everyone loved ArtPrize. But not everyone who volunteered a venue for the event loved getting a bill in the mail last week for fire inspections. The city’s fire department charged around $50 for every 5 artists a venue had.

The information was included in a handbook given to each venue. Apparently, not everyone read the fine print and now the city is admitting communication wasn’t very good on their end either. So they’re waiving all of the inspection fees - about $20,000 worth.

Mayor George Heartwell says they want to be clear about the city’s support for ArtPrize. And he says it’s such a success it’s safe to say the city has made up that amount and then some in other ways.

Visitors contributed at least $5 million the first year of ArtPrize. Final numbers for this year haven’t been released yet, but around 7,000 more people cast ballots than the year before.