At today’s ArtPrize Annual Report Breakfast, the organization revealed the economic, cultural and social impacts of the eighth annual event, while concurrently announcing plans to bring ambitious art projects to ArtPrize Nine.

GRAND RAPIDS (Michigan) March 2, 2017 -- ArtPrize, the independently organized art competition heralded as the world’s largest public art event, today announced it will head into its ninth year having made significant strides towards financial sustainability following a record fundraising year. Concurrently, the organization shared the impact over 500,000 visitors to the eighth annual event had on the cultural, social and economic fabric of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and revealed plans to bring large-scale, challenging artworks to the city. Venue registration kicks off for ArtPrize Nine on March 6 -- any space within the ArtPrize district can register as a venue through April 6.

Record Fundraising Year
Corporate sponsorship represents the largest and fastest-growing source of revenue for the 19-day event, now accounting for 50% of the total budget. This financial support funds the $500,000 in cash prizes as well as nearly $300,000 in grants for artists, venues, curators and educators.

“Our charge has been to turn ArtPrize into a financially independent nonprofit organization,” said Christian Gaines, ArtPrize Executive Director. “Corporate sponsorship has been the best way forward to accomplish this.”

“ArtPrize builds partnerships with corporate brands that align with our mission. Their investment in creating unique experiences for ArtPrize visitors helps make our event better and amplifies our existing programming,” said Jori Bennett, ArtPrize Director of Business Development. “I’m thrilled to say that thanks to the vision and generosity of many of our corporate sponsors, ArtPrize has over $3 million committed in multi-year agreements through 2020.”

Nearly 14% of ArtPrize revenue comes from its growing membership programs -- ArtClub and ArtFan -- as well as merchandise and other earned income sources. Additional essential funding comes from public sources, including local supporters such as Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., county supporters such as Experience Grand Rapids, state supporters such as the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and national supporters such as the National Endowment for the Arts.

Cultural & Economic Impact
More than 500,000 visitors descended on downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize Eight and hailed from all 50 U.S. states and 47 countries. These visitors created an estimated $28.6 million net new economic impact on the city -- with 63% of visitors travelling more than 30 miles to attend the event.

“We’re seeing increased activity at Gerald R. Ford International Airport and increased demand for hotel rooms year-over-year as visitors are coming from farther away, bringing more people with them, staying longer and spending more,” noted Todd Herring, ArtPrize Director of Creative and Communications.

“ArtPrize opens the door for these visitors to discover or rediscover our city, and to deepen their connection to the arts community year-round,” continued Herring. “Our visitor survey data tells us that after an experience at ArtPrize, more than half of ArtPrize visitors say they are more likely to attend a museum or gallery outside of the 19 days, and nearly half are more likely to return to downtown Grand Rapids.”

Economic impact data was gathered through a visitor intercept survey using methodologies established and reviewed by Lansing-based economics research and consulting firm, Anderson Economic Group.

Environmental Stewardship
“ArtPrize has enormous potential to educate our community around waste diversion, energy use, water conservation, and our overall ecological footprint,” said Amelea Pegman, ArtPrize Managing Director.

46,000 visitors chose to ride The Rapid transit system rather than drive to ArtPrize Eight, lowering the carbon impact of the event. 4,900 visitors toured the event via a Pantone Pathway, collectively walking nearly 200,000 miles in 19 days -- nearly enough to circle the earth 50 times or make it to the moon.

New in 2016, ArtPrize placed three-stream waste systems, called S.O.R.T. Stations, in Center City through a partnership with the Wege Foundation, The City of Grand Rapids, Kent County and WMEAC -- ultimately diverting 25% of the waste generated during the event and sparing nearly 7 tons of material from incineration and landfilling.

The ArtPrize Water Share program, presented by Spectrum Health, prevented the use of 11,523 single use water bottles and diverted 8,901 plastic bottles from the landfill in 2016 through the sale of reusable water bottles and encouraging ArtPrize venues to serve as water fill stations.

Bringing Awe-Inspiring Art to ArtPrize Nine
In 2017, ArtPrize continues to focus on ways to bring unforgettable work to Grand Rapids. The ArtPrize suite of grants for artists and curators continues to grow with the expansion of ArtPrize Featured Public Projects and the addition of three new cities to the ArtPrize Pitch Night program.

“ArtPrize launched Pitch Night in 2013 as a means of discovering exciting, ambitious projects across the country, and to help overcome the barriers that out-of-state artists can face when bringing them to the annual event,” said Kevin Buist, ArtPrize Exhibitions Director.

2017 Pitch Night events -- held in partnership with 21c Museum Hotels, Delta Air Lines and Experience Grand Rapids -- will take place in six cities across the country this spring. 21c Museum Hotels will host three events -- in Louisville, KY on May 15; Durham, NC on May 17; and Bentonville, AR on May 22. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit will host a Pitch Night event on June 1, the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans on June 5, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art on June 8.

Following an open call for proposals, five artists will be invited to present at each event and given five minutes to pitch their installation ideas for ArtPrize Nine to a panel of local art experts. The winning artists will each receive a $5,000 grant and a guaranteed spot on a highly trafficked ArtPrize Nine Venue this fall.

In 2016, the ArtPrize Eight Grand Prize Jurors awarded the $200,000 Juried Grand Prize, presented by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, to the interactive performance and installation titled The Bureau of Personal Belonging by Stacey Kirby, winner of last year’s Pitch Night Durham event.

“Artists should feel empowered to use their work to manifest change through conversation and connection,” said Kirby. “ArtPrize definitely offers such a platform, and the 5,000 visitors that came through The Bureau experienced the product of ArtPrize's commitment to openly supporting all artists.”

Additional details on each Pitch Night event, including Grand Rapids venue locations and when and how artists can submit their work, will be available at on March 14.

ArtPrize will return to downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 20 to October 8, 2017. Venue registration for the eighth annual event will run from March 6 to April 6, and artist registration from April 17 to June 8.

See the full 2016 ArtPrize Annual Report.

By Jaenell Woods on