Skip to content

ArtPrize 2.0: More public money to be used means more profits for downtown Grand Rapids businesses

December 14, 2022

More information has come out regarding the future of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. 

As we noted in a November 20th post, where Mayor Bliss was interviewed by WOODTV8, the future of ArtPrize will be a partnership between the City of Grand Rapids, Kendall College of Art & Design, and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

In the Agenda Packet (pages 2 – 4) for the Grand Rapids Committee of the Whole for December 6th, we now have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the future of ArtPrize. Grand Rapids City officials adopted the proposed resolution regarding the future of ArtPrize, stating: 

ArtPrize has had an immense impact on our community. It has created a unique conversation about arts, culture, and self-expression. This distinctively Grand Rapids approach to innovation captured the imagination of the arts world. The past work of the founders, sponsors, artists, and donors has built a strong foundation that provides a tremendous opportunity for the future of this next phase of ArtPrize. 

Such commentary seems a little self-congratulatory, which is consistent with how those who run this city often responds. Besides adopting the resolution, we now have a partial list of the nine-member Leadership Board of Directors for ArtPrize:

  • Tara McCrackin – President of Kendall College
  • Richard Winn – AHC Hospitality (DeVos owned)
  • Natalie Stewart – Switch (
  • Mark Washington – City Manager Grand Rapids
  • Mayor Bliss – Mayor Grand Rapids

According to the December 6th document, the Leadership Board will be responsible for selecting the remaining members of the board. Can’t wait to see who else gets selected to manage/control the future of the art spectacle. 

Yesterday, included in the Grand Rapids City Commission Fiscal Committee Agenda Packet (pages 11 – 13), we now know that City officials want to use public funds to continue to subsidize ArtPrize. I say continue to subsidize, since Grand Rapids has been using public money to support ArtPrize, such as the $50,000 they approve in August for the the 2022 integration of the monied spectacle. However, the amount that the City of Grand Rapids approved yesterday is definitely an increase from previous years. The Fiscal Committee document states: 

Your Committee of the Whole recommends adoption of a $50,000 Mobile GR sponsorship and $100,000 Special Events sponsorship and $50,000 of in-kind services from Mobile GR for the ArtPrize 2023 event.

This means that a $200,000 value of public money will be used to subsidize ArtPrize for 2023. Do you think that the City will finally decide to pay artists for their time/labor for participating in ArtPrize? I’m not holding my breathe.

In the end, the only real difference that I can see with Rick DeVos no longer running ArtPrize, is that he got the City of Grand Rapids to take it over. Ultimately, this means City funds, City resources and City staff time will be spent on an event that will primarily benefit the private sector. It’s sort of like a reverse austerity measure, where instead of privatizing a public service, the private sector gets the public sector to underwrite and promote ArtPrize, yet the private sector is the primary beneficiary of the monied art spectacle. Another example of the economic shell game that Capitalism plays on the public.

%d bloggers like this: