ArtPrize

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voting for ArtPrize was supposed to end today. But the website has been down on and off throughout the day.  So voting to narrow down the “top ten” continues until tomorrow at 4p.m.

There are a lot more ‘sound’ and ‘performance’ art in ArtPrize this year. I highlight ‘sound’ last week, so over the weekend I caught River City Improv’s performance called “Congratulations”.

More than 2,400 people have already started checking out ArtPrize. The art contest began in Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon. 1,582 artists are competing to win a $250,000 top prize.

Even before ArtPrize opened, thousands of people had already preregistered to vote in the contest. Those who vote determine the winner.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

ArtPrize 2011 begins Wednesday afternoon in Grand Rapids. Sound and performing arts will play a bigger role in this year’s contest. Music, ballet, and other performances are, after all, art. But there haven’t been a lot of entries in the past.

The winner of the art competition gets $250,000 in prize money. Organizers claim it’s the world’s largest art prize.

This is the third annual ArtPrize. The third time I’ve seen giant sculptures, breath-taking murals, funny and eye-opening drawings take over a three-mile zone in downtown.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

The third annual ArtPrize will kick off tomorrow in Grand Rapids. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will have an update for us later today.

From the Associated Press:

ArtPrize begins Wednesday and runs through Oct. 9. Organizers say this year's show will host artists from 39 countries and 43 states displaying their work in 164 venues within three square miles of the city's downtown.

While the winners of most art competitions are decided by a few professionals, ArtPrize allows any adult to enter and any attendee to vote for the winners.

Founder Rick DeVos says the event is more about the process than the finished product - giving artists permission to embrace creativity and succeed or fail.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Organizers and artists are working hard to get everything done in time for opening day later this month.

The winner of the art competition gets $250,000 in prize money. Organizers claim it’s the world’s largest art prize.

People who visit Grand Rapids during the event determine the winner through online voting.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Dana Friis-Hansen started at the Grand Rapids Art Museum Wednesday.

He told those gathered at a reception Friday he wants to make the downtown museum into center for all creative thinking, not just art.

“I really believe that as we look to the 21st century museums need to be community conveners and to be sites for bringing together people of different interests, different ideas.”

Friis-Hansen says the museum’s spaces and location in the city center will provide a good platform for that goal.

HarrisinMI / Flickr

This week, What’s Working is taking a trip to Grand Rapids to focus on the “What’s Your Art?” campaign. Many of us are familiar with the annual ArtPrize event held each fall in Grand Rapids, but there are many other art events taking place in the city throughout the year. The What’s Your Art? campaign aims to raise awareness of the many arts-based events held year-round in the Grand Rapids area.

Caroline Older is the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids, and she is overseeing the “What’s Your Art?” campaign. She says What’s Your Art is focused on supporting the culture of art in Grand Rapids more than any one specific event.

“The goal is a long-term goal, not a short-term answer. The impetus behind the What’s Your Art campaign came in the fall of 2008, when we all know the stock market tanked. It was a very tough time for lots of non-profit organizations, and the foundations in our area were looking at ways to try and help support arts organizations. And what we wanted to do was raise awareness about how incredibly rich this region is with its arts and cultural organizations. And we’re so thrilled that ArtPrize takes place, and we wanted to leverage the excitement that ArtPrize brings to the arts for the other forty-nine weeks of the year when ArtPrize isn’t taking place.”

Older says that, while What’s Your Art is still in its startup phase, there have been a number of factors that have contributed to the campaign’s success thus far.

“When we started it, we were very much hoping to help organizations drive some ticket sales. And who knew at that time that websites such as Groupon or, I think it’s LivingSocial, would be developed and be so successful at marketing last-minute ticket deals. And lots of arts organizations have ended up using those.”

Although What’s Your Art is a work in progress, Older says the campaign is developing ways of measuring its success as it evolves.

“In terms of measuring the success, we’re looking at how many people we have reading our e-newsletter which is growing exponentially each month. We have Facebook followers and we’re looking at how many additional Facebook followers we get each month, and the same thing for Twitter. And then of course we’re measuring how many visitors we get to the website, but, as I said, it’s all a work in progress. We’re very excited about the support that we’ve received from the foundations in town, particularly the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, in helping us with marketing and public relations needs in regards to this effort.”

Older says technology and social networks have proven themselves as effective ways to raise awareness about the arts. But she says people sometimes underestimate the various benefits a healthy art culture can have for a local community.

Daniel E. Johnson / Creative Commons

Registration opened this week for artists who want to take part in ArtPrize 2011. The winner of the yearly art competition is decided by the voting public who visit the event in downtown Grand Rapids.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Business owners who want to serve as a venue for ArtPrize this fall can now begin registering. The winner of the art competition is decided by the voting public who visit the event in downtown Grand Rapids. The top prize is $250,000.  

ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos says this year they’re opening the historic St. Cecilia Music Center to host more than two dozen performance pieces. They’re hoping to attract more musicians and dancers to enter the contest.

“ArtPrize has already been open to all these things. The difference is with St. Cecilia coming on we’re being a little more intentional about trying to create a very specific space for it and draw more attention to it.”

St. Cecilia Music Hall opened its doors in 1894. The classically styled gold trimmed music hall will welcome all sorts of performances during ArtPrize this year. The music hall will have listening stations to hear the contestants – in addition to the live performances.

“There have been dances and performance art pieces that have been a part of ArtPrize the first two years. And we see that continuing. We just wanted to continue to press the envelope.”

Artists can begin registering in four weeks. ArtPrize runs from late September through early October.

Paul Sicilian / Grand Valley State University

Economists at Grand Valley State University estimate last year’s ArtPrize added up to $7.5 million dollars; that’s just a little more than the first ArtPrize in 2009. But the study’s authors say they kept their estimates conservative.

ARtPrize
Rich Evenhouse

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.

ArtPrize event in Grand Rapids
Rich Evenhouse / flickr user

The organizers of Artprize announced Wednesday the dates for next year’s contest. The winner of the art competition is decided by the voting public who visit the event in downtown Grand Rapids.

Not much will change for next year’s contest besides the thousands of art installations. This year the event had more artists, venues and people casting ballots for their favorite works. Organizers want to see the momentum continue through ArtPrize 2011, so they’re not messing with the formula too much.

Cavalry Study
MattVAndyK/Flickr

ArtPrize's organizers are announcing plans for the 3rd annual art competition next year in Grand Rapids.  The event will run in 2011 from September 21st through October 9th.

The Associated Press reports:

Organizers say they again expect top 10 prizes totaling $449,000 will be awarded. The public picks winners online and by cell phone in "American Idol"-style voting.

This year's ArtPrize was a 19-day event with the winner, Chris LaPorte of Grand Rapids, receiving the top prize of $250,000.

aPorte works on one panel of his pencil drawing that won ArtPrize
artprize.org

A new survey shows this year's ArtPrize attracted more people from outside Grand Rapids than last year's contest. Preliminary numbers show half the people who participated in ArtPrize came from outside of the Grand Rapids area. Only 6% came from outside of Michigan.

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