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