The ArtPrize competition will return September 16-October 4, 2020, featuring more artist grants and deeper engagement between artists and visitors.

GRAND RAPIDS (Michigan) OCTOBER 25, 2019 — ArtPrize, which produces open citywide contemporary art experiences each fall, this weekend celebrates the conclusion of its inaugural Project 1 exhibition and announces the return of its biennial competition, slated to take place in Grand Rapids from September 16 to October 4, 2020. In the lead up to ArtPrize 2020 more artists than ever before will receive grant funding to support their entries. Additionally, event visitors will find brand-new ways to participate in the event and connect with artists on their mobile devices.

“We’re looking ahead with anticipation to the return of the ArtPrize competition, and we’re excited for the ways 2020 will enhance the experience for both artists and visitors,” said Kevin Buist, ArtPrize Artistic Director. “Shifting the competition to a biennial cadence has allowed our team to collect comprehensive stakeholder input and develop new programs and features that we’ve been dreaming about but haven’t had the time or space to implement until now.”

Project 1, which concludes Sunday, was the first iteration of a new model of curated public art exhibitions to take place between biennial ArtPrize competitions. Titled Crossed Lines and curated by Buist, the exhibition focused on five artists, enabling them to create multi-sited, interactive and community-oriented public artworks with a depth and scale not possible in the competition format. A broad range of performing arts events throughout the exhibition met the organization’s goal of reaching audiences underserved by ArtPrize

The return of the ArtPrize competition in 2020 will include several new features and improvements based on extensive feedback gathered from artists, venues and visitors over the past year.

Increased Artist Grants

Since 2013, ArtPrize has grown a suite of granting programs, awarding over $1 million to artists, venues and educators to support their participation in the event. Familiar ArtPrize artist granting programs — including Featured Public Projects, Pitch Nights and Artist Seed Grants — will return in 2020, accompanied by new opportunities for artists to gain financial support for ambitious entries in advance of the competition.

“Grants in 2020 will range from $2,000 to $25,000 and will enable artists to be more ambitious with their entries,” said Buist. “A greater number of individual artists will receive grants than ever before. Our existing grant programs have grown into a key part of providing support for artists and ensuring a great visitor experience. We’ve spent time gathering feedback from ArtPrize artists over the past year, and learned that this support is more important than ever.”

One of these international artist grant opportunities is already unfolding. ArtPrize is partnering with the Amway Korea Foundation to present an exciting three-part international event that will celebrate Korean artists in Seoul and bring their work to ArtPrize 2020. The first phase recently took place in Seoul. ArtPrize Gangnam Roadshow was an ArtPrize-inspired event where over a hundred artists displayed work in ten venues from September 20 to October 4, 2019. The public voted for their favorites. The top ten received cash prizes, and five will pitch their ideas for ArtPrize at ArtPrize Gangnam Showcase, which will happen in Seoul in early 2020. The winner will receive $25,000 and a spot at DeVos Place Convention Center in ArtPrize 2020.

Focus on Public Vote

The increase in artist grants is part of a shift in the ArtPrize competition prize structure. ArtPrize 2020 will continue to award $250,000 decided by public vote, but will pivot away from juried prizes to fund artists’ work in the form of increased grants. 

This shift is the result of a months-long discovery process led by Atomic Object — exploring how different stakeholders experience the event, including how the ArtPrize app and voting play into and enhance that experience. Atomic Object — a custom software development and design company based in Grand Rapids which develops the ArtPrize app — gathered feedback from artists, venues, and visitors who have made the event what it is over the last decade. One consistent piece of feedback from artists was the desire for more financial support in the lead up to ArtPrize.

“The tension between the public vote and the juried awards was a deliberate way to explore the different ways art is made, assessed, and valued. The difference between ArtPrize and the Project series is a new way of exploring these ideas,” said Buist. “ArtPrize is all about leaning into the public vote, which is fascinating and unpredictable, while Project years are a chance to go deeper and explore more deliberate and carefully-crafted ways of bringing public art to the city.”

Access to art world experts remains important to ArtPrize artists, and will be integrated into the event in ways other than juried awards, such as grant advisory committees and panel discussions.

Enhanced Voting

At ArtPrize 2020, visitors from around the world will find enhanced ways to interact with participating artists through the ArtPrize mobile app. They will not only be able to discover and voice their opinions on hundreds of artist entries across the city through the public vote, they will also be able to engage in new ways with the artists whose work moves them. The process of voting is being redesigned to support other forms of reactions and feedback beyond a simple thumbs up. The app will also enable visitors give financial support directly to artists, and to ArtPrize programming that supports artists, in a way that is just as easy as voting.

“We know that one of the experiences our visitors enjoy the most each year is talking to the artists, and so we’re excited to reimagine what’s possible with this interaction,” said Becca Guyette, ArtPrize Director of Learning and Engagement. “The public vote and our mobile app have always been central to the ArtPrize competition. Next fall, visitors will be able to share feedback and now financial support along with their votes.”

On Saturday, October 26, the ArtPrize organization invites the public to join them in celebrating the inaugural Project 1 exhibition, at the Project 1 Closing Celebration. The event will begin at 7 PM at the Listening Room at Studio Park. The Project 1 Exhibition Catalogue will be available to purchase at this event.

ArtPrize 2020 is slated to take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 16 to October 4. The ArtPrize organization will reveal more details about the grants and app enhancements listed in this release, as well as more developments for the 2020 competition, in the coming months.

By Jaenell Woods on