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More evidence that ArtPrize & Rick DeVos are connected to Far Right Politics

October 1, 2015

For years now, we have been making the point that since ArtPrize is bankrolled annually by the parents of Rick DeVos – Dick & Betsy – and the major players from the capitalist class in West Michigan, that ArtPrize serves as both a great PR tool for the DeVos family and a mechanism to generate even greater political and economic clout for the major sponsors3037163-inline-i-1-welcome-to-grand-rapids-the-irl-reddit-of-art

ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos has gone to great lengths to deny that the annual event is in any way politically motivated. In fact, in an article that was critical of ArtPrize and the DeVos family politics that appeared in GQ Magazine in 2012, Rick DeVos was quoted as saying, “I don’t even want to weigh in on any of the political stuff. I just prefer to stay away from that.”

Artist Steve Lambert, who entered ArtPrize last year with the piece Capitalism Works for Me, also challenged DeVos around the political nature of the event, specifically the funding coming from people who have historically funded anti-LGBT campaigns. 

Now there is new evidence that Rick DeVos does walk in the same political circles as his parents and grandparents. I wrote yesterday about how I was denied entry to a Right Wing Think Tank Conference being held in Grand Rapids and provided some information on the State Policy Network and its affiliate groups, like the Acton Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

While looking at the agenda for the SPN conference, I was intrigued by a session that was being offered to. The title of the session is ArtPrize: Unorthodox, Highly Disruptive, and Undeniably Intriguing, presented by Rick DeVos and sponsored by the National Review Institute. (The National Review Institute is a political advocacy group committed to the legacy of William F. Buckley, who was an apologist for Capitalism and US Imperialism.)11760190_688805574558301_7881155605291540005_n

So, here is Rick DeVos, who claims to stay away from politics, speaking at a conference that is dedicated to strategizing around political issues. Here is a rundown of the political agenda being discussed at the conference that DeVos is part of:

  • Get States to pass Right to Work Legislation
  • Get States to adopt austerity measures that will hurt workers, the public sector and public services
  • Attack Public Education by redirecting more public funds to Charter Schools and other “Schools   of Choice.”
  • Privatize Higher Education
  • Promote more Ag-Gag laws, which attack community based efforts around food production and silences animal rights groups challenging the industrial animal industry.
  • Attacks on Green Energy Legislation

This is not simply some guilt by association argument, rather it further demonstrated that Rick DeVos is welcomed by and part of a larger movement that his family has been invested in that promotes reactionary politics that are specifically harmful to workers, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, women and those who identify as secular.rickdevos

Rick DeVos and his supporters can say that giving a talk on ArtPrize at the State Policy Network Conference doesn’t mean he endorses their politics. However, such a claim would be disingenuous. Do you think that an artist or non-profit that presented at a conference around women’s reproductive rights, for example, could claim that their presence in no way endorsed the politics of the conference? I think not.

Rick DeVos can come up with catchy titles for his presentation on ArtPrize that uses terms like unorthodox and disruptive, but the truth is that his event, his funders and his family are only interested in disrupting the lives of people that stand in their way to greater wealth accumulation.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Danielle permalink
    October 4, 2015 3:46 am

    Just shut up. People like you ruin great things for the rest of us. Art prize has been amazing for our city. You are the type of person that has to find the negative in everything.

  2. Lynn permalink
    October 4, 2015 12:02 pm

    Therefore, can artists who enter ArtPrize claim that their presence in no way endorses the “politics” of the event/its founders/sponsors?

  3. October 4, 2015 12:38 pm

    Lynn, that is for the artists to decide. This posting isn’t judging individual artists, it is attempting to raise critical issues about the influence the DeVos family has and the harm that is done by the policies they endorse.

  4. October 4, 2015 12:41 pm

    Danielle, you can not silence me, nor censor me. As long as powerful people cause harm in the world, as do the DeVos’s, I will continue to fight against that.

  5. bobvance permalink
    October 4, 2015 2:38 pm

    Ouside of GR and a few right wing leaning urban planners and so-called right leaning “creative class” proponents who are mostly interested in how much money they can make off of art (NEVER a good basis from which to make art) ArtPrize (bizarre, but catchy!, compounding of two truly unrelated words) is shrugged off or used as an example of how NOT to go about supporting art and artists communities. It could be, should be, considered that it is a successful way to silence segments of artist communities and, much like the Soviets or HItler did, obsfucate and deter the real purposes of supporting art that satisfies the status quo as opposed to challenging it.

  6. Lynn permalink
    October 4, 2015 7:02 pm

    Then it would follow that it is for Rick DeVos to decide whether or not he endorses the politics of an organization that sponsors an event he attends–without judging him, no?

  7. October 4, 2015 7:32 pm

    Lynn, comparing individual artists to Rick DeVos is somewhat ridiculous. Rick gets bankrolled by Dick & Betsy to put on the event, based on 990 documents. He relies on funding from additional sponsors, who like Mom & Dad fund all kinds of harmful anti-democratic policies. Most individual artists are struggling to make ends meet and most can’t make a living off of their art. Their participation is more often than not, based on survival. Thus, your assertion about not be critical of Rick just doesn’t hold up.

  8. Andrew permalink
    October 14, 2015 3:20 pm

    That this comment was left at 3:46 am is probably the best thing about it. Were you like tossing and turning all night, unable to sleep, because somebody on the internet is critical of some rich guy and his stupid art festival, until finally you just HAD to get up and comment on this with the brilliant “Just shut up”?


  1. It is impossible to have justice and equity as long as the DeVos family has power | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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