From the beginning, ArtPrize was a totally new type of citywide event intended to disrupt typical highly curated art prizes. And from the beginning it has provoked discussion, on the streets and online.
The brainchild of native Grand Rapidian and entrepreneur Rick DeVos, the first ArtPrize took place in 2009. Rick’s idea was simple but striking: to create an art competition open to anyone willing to submit work and to award the world’s largest art prize, of $250,000 that year, to a participating artist based solely on votes from the public present at the event. A signature of that first ArtPrize, and every ArtPrize since then, is the voting engagement through the ArtPrize app. Visitors to Grand Rapids who experience the art get to register their opinions on what moves them.
ArtPrize was founded as an evolving experiment and has grown and evolved since it was founded thanks to the community and generous supporters, participants and creators.
Over ten years, 3.4 million visitors have cast 3.4 million votes and artists from around the country and world have received $4.6 million in awards.
ArtPrize attracts a vast, enthusiastic audience of more than 26,000 visitors each day of the event to a Midwestern city ranked 26th in population in the United States. ArtPrize continues to stimulate conversation in Grand Rapids and beyond about how art connects to audiences and the role it plays in civic life.