ArtPrize’s status as a leading international art festival is growing more significantly every year. We were selected as one of TIME Magazine's Five Festive Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2013, and the 2012 ArtPrize event saw a record year, with more than 400,000 people and 412,560 votes.

All of these accomplishments are happening during a time of extreme growth and transition, and we needed a director with experience that aligns with the needs of the organization.

After several months of decision-making, the ArtPrize Board of Directors selected Christian Gaines, who most recently was with, and has a deep understanding of  business development, staff management, fundraising, technology services and programming. He has created and led international film festivals and he will now lead ArtPrize, the world's largest art competition. Rick DeVos, founder and chairman of ArtPrize, made the announcement on the first day of Artist Registration for the 2013 competition.

“Christian’s expertise leading major, international festivals as well as working with artists and industry-leading technology services will help ArtPrize develop as a platform for creativity,” said Rick, during the announcement.

As executive director, Gaines will oversee all aspects of the annual competition, including finance, operations, marketing and administration. He will be tasked with continuing the organization’s path to self-sustainability, a goal it intends to reach by the end of 2013.  Gaines' appointment has attracted significant attention nationwide, with features in the Associated Press, IndieWire and Hyperallergic, as well as regional publications, Rapid Growth and the Rapidian. We highly recommend reading all of them to get a complete understanding of this new addition to West Michigan's cultural landscape.

Gaines was the director of festival strategy and business development at, a division of Amazon. While there he oversaw the global expansion of, a submissions platform that connects filmmakers to more than 1,000 film festivals worldwide.

He was director of festivals at the American Film Institute (AFI), where he was responsible for numerous programming projects including year-round film series, festivals, retrospectives and advanced screenings. He oversaw the Los Angeles-based AFI FEST presented by Audi, helped to start SilverDocs: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival (now AFI Docs) and represented AFI in the launch of the AFI Dallas International Film Festival (now the Dallas International Film Festival).

His previous experience includes four years as director of the Hawaii International Film Festival; two years as both senior programmer at the Sundance Film Festival and director of new media at the Sundance Institute, and nearly six years as administrative director of the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival.

Gaines, his wife and their two teenage children are moving this summer from Los Angeles to make Grand Rapids their home.

We are thrilled to have him on the team!

ArtPrize 2013 is open Sept. 18 through Oct. 6, 2013, and is expected to be totally awesome.

By Brian Burch on