ArtPrize welcomes a new member to the nonprofit’s Board of Directors and announced nearly $300,000 in grants for artists, venues, curators, and educators to attract outdoor works and immersive experiences to the eighth iteration of the international art competition.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, March 10, 2016 -- ArtPrize, the radically open international art competition decided equally by public vote and expert jury, today announced $273,000 in grants as they welcomed a new member to its Board of Directors and introduced guiding principles before a capacity crowd at its 2016 Annual Report Breakfast -- two days after the launch of Venue Registration for the eighth annual event. Any space in downtown Grand Rapids can register as a venue to host artwork this fall between now and April 7.

“As an annual event, we are committed to building a world-class exhibition every year. This begins with a long-term, principled approach to growing networks and expanding awareness  around the world that ambitious public art projects come to fruition at ArtPrize,” said ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines to the crowd of artists, community members, sponsors, and press.  

“The addition of Leslie Koch to our Board of Directors and the organization-wide commitment to our guiding principles helps ensure the annual investment into the work of artists, venues, and curators - through both grants and awards - is an effective catalyst in building an exhibition of international significance.”

Grants to Seed a World-Class Exhibition

In the first few months of 2016, ArtPrize has focused on ways to promote the transformation of urban space through public art by bringing unforgettable work that generates discourse and debate. The ArtPrize suite of grants continues to grow through the recently announced ArtPrize Featured Public Projects program, the ArtPrize Pitch Night program -- expanding this year to Louisville, Kentucky and returning to Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Durham -- and an exciting new partnership with Independent Curators International that will bolster the second iteration of ArtPrize Fellowship for Emerging Curators. Combined, these three programs alone will grant $120,000 directly to artists and curators to enable ambitious public art projects and exhibitions that will challenge visitors to confront the unfamiliar and step outside of their comfort zones.

“This expanded suite of grants is designed to support artists and enable ambitious, large scale, challenging work to more easily find a home at ArtPrize,” said Kevin Buist, ArtPrize Exhibitions Director.

While the granting programs provide the resources emerging artists need to realize their efforts, ArtPrize is continuing to bolster networks nationally and internationally for both organizational guidance and to build international awareness of the event and the opportunities it offers artists.

New Director Added to ArtPrize Board

In February, the ArtPrize Board of Directors approved the appointment of Leslie Koch to the board. As the President and CEO at Trust for Governors Island, Ms. Koch led the transformation of Governors Island from an abandoned military base off the tip of Manhattan into a vibrant public space which attracts hundreds of thousands of seasonal visitors with a diverse array of arts and cultural programs.

“Leslie brings a unique skill set to the ArtPrize Board of Directors. Her strong background in the nonprofit sector and acumen for strategy, cultural programming, and economic development have led her to spearhead the transformation of Governors Island in New York. Her insights, guidance, and network will be a tremendous asset to ArtPrize,” said Rick DeVos, ArtPrize Founder and Board Chairman.

Guiding Principles, Long-Term Vision

In its eighth year, ArtPrize continues to grow and thrive, prompting the organization’s leadership team to put into words the fundamental values that have guided, and will continue to shape, the future of the event.

“Annual events have the opportunity to re-create themselves from year to year. This constant resetting presents exciting prospects for change and improvement, but it can also present a risk to the values that guide and define who we  are as an organization. It was important for ArtPrize to define the principles that have brought us to where we are today,” said ArtPrize Managing Director and a member of the founding ArtPrize team, Amelea Pegman.

These Guiding Principles serve as a roadmap for the ArtPrize team and stakeholders to draw inspiration from as they seek to grow existing programming and develop new initiatives:

  • ArtPrize is Radically Open. Any artist can enter. Any space in the district can be a venue. Artists and venues connect at to independently organize. ArtPrize is free to the public, who vote for the winners.
  • ArtPrize Celebrates Artists. We celebrate the vision and courage of artists who accept challenges, take risks, and embrace the spirit of ArtPrize.
  • ArtPrize is a Catalyst. We build community through countless instances of independent participation. Everyone has a voice in the conversation and a stake in the outcome.
  • ArtPrize Transforms Urban Space. By working with independent venues and curators who create unique experiences, we strive to fill every available space with art.
  • ArtPrize Challenges Everyone. Unpredictable by design, ArtPrize vigorously promotes examinations of opinions, values, and beliefs, encouraging all participants to step outside of their comfort zones. We expect that this will surprise and delight, but may also confound and infuriate.
  • ArtPrize Generates Conversation. Because of its open, independently organized format, ArtPrize expects and embraces critical discourse and debate from all perspectives.
  • ArtPrize is Intentionally Inclusive. ArtPrize is not just for “anyone” it’s for “everyone.” We produce programs that are intentionally inclusive.
  • ArtPrize Promotes Social Good. We produce programs that have positive social and economic impact. We believe that real involvement for all happens by embracing identity and experience. We focus on intentional reflection, collaborative problem solving, and long term results.
  • ArtPrize Embraces Technology. Technology is baked into the ArtPrize model and makes it possible. Pivotal to success are innovative features and functionality for our stakeholders that are constantly improving.
  • ArtPrize is an Evolving Experiment. We are agile, constantly soliciting stakeholder feedback and implementing year-over-year improvements that are data-driven and thoughtfully executed. Change is embraced and encouraged.

ArtPrize Preview Week: September 14–20

Also new this year, the week leading up to ArtPrize 2016 will be an official Preview Week, presented by Edward Jones -- building structure around the hundreds of events, receptions, exhibition openings, galas, and gatherings that happen across the ArtPrize district in the week before voting officially opens. Starting on Wednesday, September 14, local ArtPrizers and those in town early will get a first look at installations in progress around downtown, while supporting the ArtPrize institutional partners that produce excellent exhibitions all year long. Museum venues can charge regular admission during Preview Week and offer special perks to ArtPrize badge holders like Artists, Venues, Sponsors, Members, and Volunteers.

“Venues charge no admission fees during ArtPrize, and it is our hope that visitors and residents alike will be excited to support these institutional partners while enjoying a sneak peak a week before voting officially opens,” said ArtPrize Exhibitions Manager Katie Moore.

Venue registration for ArtPrize 2016 opened earlier this week and will remain open through April 7. Any space within the three-square-mile ArtPrize district can be a Venue and host artists’ artwork and visitors from around the world. Coinciding with Venue registration is the application period for Venue Grants. All ArtPrize Venues are encouraged to apply for this fund of $30,000 before the April 7 deadline. 15 to 20 venues will receive between $500 and $5,000 each to provide assistance in realizing ambitious exhibitions and to enhance the overall ArtPrize visitor experience.

New Rules for Finalists

ArtPrize is announcing two rules changes for the 2016 event. First, artists who have previously won the Public Vote Grand Prize or the Juried Grand Prize are no longer eligible to enter the competition. ArtPrize will continue to feature the work of past Grand Prize winners at the ArtPrize Hub or other locations to honor the history of the event and celebrate the Artists whose work has captured the admiration of the voting public or the grand prize jury. Winners of public vote and juried category awards are eligible to enter again.

“It’s exciting to have played a role in the history of this transformative event,” said Chris LaPorte, winner of the ArtPrize Public Vote in 2010. “Winning ArtPrize was monumental for me, and the prospect of returning to ArtPrize as an honored alum is a compelling thought and an exciting opportunity.”

Second, there is now a cap of two entries from each venue that can advance to the public vote Final 20. This rule ensures that a greater diversity of venues will be represented in the second round of voting by elevating only the two most popular works from a given venue to advance to the Final 20. This is the latest in a series of tweaks meant to challenge patterns of predictability within the event, similar to the introduction of the parallel award structure and the implementation of the Final 20 composed equally of four categories. Additionally, when each category juror selects five nominees, no more than two will come from a single venue.

ArtPrize will return to downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 21 to October 9, 2016. Venue registration for the eighth annual event is now open through April 7, and artist registration from April 18–June 2.

By Jaenell Woods on