ArtPrize gets creative with new format this fall

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — ArtPrize 2021 will work differently than in years’ past.

The massive art competition in downtown Grand Rapids — which is returning after two years off — will shift from its traditional voting format to a new one in which voters can award cash prizes directly to artists.

The exact details of how that will work have not yet been released, but ArtPrize says it means more artists will have the opportunity to take home a share of the $250,000 in prizes.

“This new platform will allow us, together, to refine, grow, and deepen the ArtPrize experience for all stakeholders in the years to come,” ArtPrize said in a Monday release.

For the first time this year, ArtPrize will run an auction so viewers can buy the art they see and love.

As in the past, there will be juried awards. ArtPrize also previously announced it would be giving out $200,000 in grants to encourage a more diverse group of artists to get involved, back large outdoor installations and help venues curate pieces.

While artists and venues started working out Monday which pieces will be displayed where, artists can still register through June 10. So far, more than 1,000 artists have signed up and more than 120 venues are involved.

“This has been the fastest road to 1,000 we’ve ever had,” new ArtPrize Executive Director Craig Searer told News 8 Monday. “So we’ve had over 1,000 artists in the very first week register for ArtPrize 2021. So we eclipsed … our internal goal for that.”

ArtPrize is promising a new “enhanced” digital map to help you navigate around downtown to find art during the competition, which runs Sept. 16 to Oct. 3. Organizers are encouraging a lot of outdoor art as a coronavirus mitigation measure.

“Activating 11 parks in the surrounding area within downtown,” Searer said, “and our communication to venues is let’s keep everybody as safe as possible and allow the visitors to experience art from an outdoor aspect as much as we can.”

ArtPrize was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The year before that, it was not held in lieu of an affiliated public art event called Project 1.

Searer said what will happen in 2022 is “still up for debate.”

“We’re building this platform that would allow us some great flexibility in whichever avenue we decide to choose,” he said. “But I think we’re hyperfocused on 2021 right now.”

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