And the rest was history…
ArtPrize® began three years ago as an experiment—a totally new event, unlike anything the world had ever seen, filled with the experiments of artists and the opinions of everyone.
Radically open to anyone and equally simple to understand.
ArtPrize was created to be a very different kind of art competition. It would decentralize the traditional, top-down art contest in two ways.
First there was the open call to artists, venues, and voters. Any artist in the world could compete; anyone with property in downtown Grand Rapids could turn their space into a venue; and any visitor could vote for their favorite artworks.
Second, ArtPrize made what amounted to a dating website for artists and venues. The organizers would provide no selection committees or curators. Anything was possible if the artists and venues agreed to make it happen.
Public vote would decide who won the cash prizes. With voting on the Internet or on mobile devices, the votes would be tallied quickly. You could track the progress of your favorite artworks online, in real time. How would this affect the winners? No one could say. This was a new kind of event, impossible just ten years before.
The radical openness of the idea exhilarated some and drew heavy criticism from others. In the midst of all the buzz, one thing was clear: speculation had to take the backseat to action.
On opening day (September 23, 2009), 159 venue owners opened their spaces to display the entries of 1,262 artists from 41 states and 14 countries.
The big event gets huge
Neither the organizers nor the city were prepared for the massive public response.
By the first Sunday, restaurants had run out of food. By the next Sunday, hotels had run out of rooms. On the final day of the event, a line to see the winning piece stretched down the street for over two blocks. Ultimately, the venue with the winning piece would host over 80,000 visitors, while the number of total event visitors topped 200,000. Over three years there have been:
- 4,557 Artists
- 515 Venues
- $1,428,000.00 in Prizes
- 25,900,000 ArtPrize.org pageviews
- 1,182,863 Votes
- 122,748 Voters
- and almost 1 Million visits to a city of 200,000 people.
Now we have everyone’s attention.
You = Creator
ArtPrize is a platform for creation. The organizers are just a small part of the whole.
Everyone brings something unique to the table, and we’re excited to see what you will bring.
ArtPrize = Catalyst
This grand civic project began with the value that art is important. It is uniquely capable of carrying the ideas of its creator and transforming the perceptions of an audience.
Art = Community
Art is the focus of the competition, but the main event is community. Artists take over the city, visitors explore and new relationships form. Communities open to new ideas organically.
The community keeps growing, even after the event is over.