Grand Rapids Art Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and Kendall College of Art & Design among 30 venues to open their ArtPrize exhibitions early for the first annual ArtPrize Preview Week, while ArtPrize Tonight returns with highly-anticipated events each night of the eighth annual competition.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (AUGUST 29, 2016) -- ArtPrize, the radically open international art competition decided equally by public vote and expert jury, today announced the lineup of venues slated to participate in the first annual ArtPrize Preview Week, from September 14-20, 2016. Concurrently, ArtPrize announced the highly-anticipated film screenings and live music entertainment that will join Critical Discourse to form ArtPrize Tonight. ArtPrize Eight will take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan from September 21-October 9, 2016.

New this year, the week leading up to the eighth annual event will be an official ArtPrize Preview Week, presented by Edward Jones. Institutional venues including Grand Rapids Art Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, and Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University, are joined by more than 30 galleries, restaurants, cafes and shops that will open their ArtPrize Eight exhibitions in advance of the event, from September 14-20.

“The week before ArtPrize voting officially opens has always been a bustling time in downtown Grand Rapids, filled with events, receptions, exhibition openings, galas and gatherings,” noted Christian Gaines, ArtPrize Executive Director. “The ArtPrize Preview Week program seeks to build structure around these events and happenings -- providing local ArtPrizers and those in town early with a first look at installations in progress, all while supporting the ArtPrize institutional partners that produce excellent exhibitions all year long.”

“Many people tell us they start their ArtPrize experience at the Grand Rapids Art Museum—this year we’re setting up early to accommodate those who want to beat the rush, take more time with each work and watch the videos, or just immerse themselves in the installations,” said Dana Friis-Hansen, Director and CEO of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. “We have a great ArtPrize lineup at GRAM this year, and we can’t wait to share Past/Present/Future with our visitors.”

ArtPrize Preview Week participating venues include:

Museum venues can charge regular admission during Preview Week and offer special perks to ArtPrize badge holders like Artists, Venues, Sponsors, Members, and Volunteers.

As part of its Preview Week sponsorship, Edward Jones financial advisors will host private tours, speaking events and receptions for their clients and other associates -- to tap into the energy and anticipation of the ArtPrize event.

Featuring three distinct categories of evening entertainment -- including Critical Discourse, ArtPrize On Screen, and ArtPrize On Stage -- ArtPrize Tonight shines a spotlight on many of Grand Rapids’ entertainment options, ensuring ArtPrize-goers will find at least one activity to enjoy every single night of the 19-day event.

Critical Discourse
Powered by ITC, Your Energy Superhighway, Critical Discourse will bring together experts in the fields of art, design and technology at the eighth annual event. The weeklong event-within-an-event, which expanded in 2016 to include a year-round online video series, is free and open to the public -- running from September 25 to October 4, 2016.

Critical Discourse will once again transform the ArtPrize HUB/HQ theater into a TV studio dubbed the Critical Discourse Studio, and ArtPrize-goers are invited to be part of the live audience -- taking part in six evenings of exploration, interpretation, debate, public opinion, and expert critique. This unpredictable, inspiring and occasionally irreverent series will include fan favorites: the Jurors’ Shortlist announcement, as well as the two-part Why These Finalists? event, all three broadcast live on NBC affiliate WOOD TV8.

See the full lineup of Critical Discourse events on the ArtPrize blog.

ArtPrize On Stage
ArtPrize On Stage brings the energy of live performance to the ArtPrize night scene -- including musical, theatrical and comedy performances across a variety of venues. New in 2016, the Blue Bridge -- organized by Quinn Matthews, WYCE Station Manager and host of GRLive -- will play host to all things music at ArtPrize Eight. The Blue Bridge will feature the Blue Bridge Sessions, 30-minute busking performances throughout the 19-day event, as well as the Blue Bridge Music Festival -- held September 30 and October 1, the festival promises to bring two epic days and nights of musical entertainment featuring ArtPrize artists performing alongside well-known Michigan bands. The Blue Bridge Sessions and Music Festival are sponsored by AMI Entertainment, with support from Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. and Experience Grand Rapids.

“ArtPrize has become such an incredible event with visitors from all over the world coming to the city of Grand Rapids all for the sake of art! The city is growing and the music scene in this region is like nothing I have ever seen before. Original songwriters, crazy talented musicians, touring bands, all right here in west Michigan,” noted Matthews. “I want to show the visitors to our city what we have here music wise and what better way to showcase that than during the world’s largest art competition. See ya out there!”

A song competition for original music has been a long standing tradition with ArtPrize -- and for the eighth annual event, ArtPrize has teamed up with AMI Entertainment to have JukeBoxes placed throughout the city as listening stations for visitors to experience the music and cast their votes. In addition to being eligible for $500,000 in ArtPrize prizes in the Time-Based category, ArtPrize Eight musicians will be eligible to win $10,000 in independently organized awards. These Blue Bridge Songwriters Awards will include ten $1,000 cash prizes -- five decided by public vote and five by expert jury.

For more details, visit

ArtPrize On Screen
Celebration! Cinema will bring screenings of new and independent cinema to the Ladies’ Literary Club through ArtPrize On Screen, presented by the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office. Running from September 21-24, ArtPrize On Screen will showcase new, independent feature-length narrative and documentary films sure to challenge and entertain. Each program will be preceded by a Michigan-made short film curated by the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts’ acclaimed Open Projector Night Series.

“ArtPrize welcomes artists working in any medium from everywhere in the world, and independent filmmakers are no exception,” noted Christian Gaines, ArtPrize Executive Director. “We’re thrilled to be working with Celebration! Cinema, the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office and UICA’s Open Projector Night to bring ten stellar narrative, documentary and short films to ArtPrize.”

Kicking off the 2016 ArtPrize On Screen lineup is the highly anticipated “The Birth of a Nation” -- winner of the Audience Award: US Dramatic and the US Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival -- which will screen on September 21 at 7:30 p.m. “The Birth of a Nation” will be preceded by Michigan-made short film, “80 to 90 Feet”.

On September 22 at 7:30 p.m., catch “The Fits” -- a transformative portrait of adolescence, which premiered at Sundance Festival in 2016. Paired with “The Fits” will be the Michigan-made short film -- “Monster, Me”.

September 23 will bring a double-feature. At 6:30 p.m., “Author: The JT LeRoy Story” delves into the infinitely fascinating rabbit hole of how Laura Albert breathed life into her IRL avatar for a decade. This feature film will be preceded by Michigan-made short, “Beloved”. And at 10:00 p.m., “The Alchemist Cookbook” -- produced and shot in Michigan by Grand Rapids-native Joel Potrykus, and a breakout sensation at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival -- will have its Grand Rapids premiere. This screening will be preceded by the short film, “Free Pie”.

Wrapping up the 2016 edition of ArtPrize On Screen will be “Camp Manna” -- a stylistic throwback to 80s summer camp films, which was produced and shot in Michigan. The 8:00 p.m. screening will be preceded by short film, “Croissant Man”.

While all ArtPrize On Screen films are eligible for the ArtPrize Eight public vote competition in the time-based category, the ArtPrize public will also award two cash prizes -- the ArtPrize On Screen Public Vote Prizes. By casting their votes through the ArtPrize mobile app, visitors and film goers will award a $5,000 prize for Best Michigan-Made Short Film, presented by the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office -- as well as a $2,500 prize for Best Feature Film, presented by Celebration! Cinema.

For details on each screening, visit Film screening tickets are free and represent reserved seats in the auditorium. Reserve tickets at

ArtPrize Eight will once again transform three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids into an open playing field where 1,453 entries at 170 venues will vie for a combination of public vote and juried awards totalling $500,000 in prizes, September 21 to October 9. To learn more, visit

By Jaenell Woods on