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7.13.17 – Luncheon Notes

SPOKES Notes written by Chelsea Dubey

Our speaker on Thursday was Christian Gaines, executive director of ArtPrize. Christian joined ArtPrize in 2013 and has been a wonderful addition to our community ever since.

2017 will be the ninth year of ArtPrize and organizers expect more than 500,000 people to attend – and more than $29 million will be pumped into the Grand Rapids economy. The 19-day art event takes place throughout the City in more than 200 venues. A new venue this year will be the Gerald Ford International Airport. Additionally, 1,500 artists from all over the world contribute to what is now the most attended art event on the planet.

Christian is passionate about ArtPrize’s mission and guiding principals that I thought would good to share those here:


ArtPrize is an international art competition and festival open to all and determined equally by public vote and expert jury. ArtPrize encourages critical discourse, celebrates artists, transforms urban space and promotes cultural understanding.


ArtPrize is Open. Any artist can enter. Any space in the district can be a venue. Artists and venues connect at to independently organize. ArtPrize is free to the public, who vote for the winners.

ArtPrize Celebrates Artists. We celebrate the vision and courage of artists who take risks and embrace the spirit of ArtPrize.

ArtPrize is a Catalyst. We build community through countless instances of independent participation. Everyone has a voice in the conversation and a stake in the outcome.

ArtPrize Transforms Urban Space. By working with independent venues and curators who create unique experiences, we strive to fill every available space with art.

ArtPrize is an Educational Experience. ArtPrize provides programs and resources that transform Grand Rapids into an open learning laboratory where students, teachers and visitors have meaningful learning experiences, inspiring generations of artists and art-lovers.

ArtPrize Challenges Everyone. Unpredictable by design, ArtPrize vigorously promotes examination of opinions, values and beliefs, encouraging all participants to step outside of their comfort zones. We expect that this will surprise and delight but may also confound and infuriate.

ArtPrize Generates Conversation. Because of its open, independently organized format, ArtPrize expects and embraces critical discourse and debate from all perspectives.

ArtPrize Promotes Social Good. ArtPrize is not just for “anyone” it’s for “everyone.” We produce programs that are intentionally inclusive and that have positive social and economic impact. We believe that real involvement for all happens by embracing identity and experience.

ArtPrize Embraces Technology. Technology is baked into the ArtPrize model and makes it possible. Pivotal to success are innovative features and functionality for our stakeholders that are constantly improving.

ArtPrize is an Evolving Experiment. We are agile, constantly soliciting stakeholder feedback and implementing year-over-year improvements that are data-driven and thoughtfully executed. Change is embraced and encouraged.

This will be my fifth ArtPrize season and I’m excited to explore the “big and messy and disruptive” yet wonderful and intriguing 19-day art event!

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