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ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place for 19 days each fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More than $500,000 in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts.

Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. Art is exhibited throughout downtown Grand Rapids—museums, bars, public parks, restaurants, theaters, hotels, bridges, laundromats, auto body shops, vacant storefronts and office spaces. Artists and venues register for the competition then find each other through an online connections process in late spring. No one at ArtPrize selects a single artist or artwork, directs an artist where to show work or directs a venue what to show. In 2016, 1,453 works created by artists from 40 states and 44 countries were exhibited in 170 venues.

ArtPrize is free and open to the public and now attracts over 500,000 visitors, making it the most attended public art event in the world in 2014 and 2015, according the The Art Newspaper’s annual “Big Ticket List.”

The first ArtPrize took place in 2009. The idea was simple but striking: to create an art competition open to anyone willing to submit work and to award the world’s largest art prize, of $250,000 that year, to a participating artist based solely on votes from the public present at the event.

A signature of that first ArtPrize, and every ArtPrize since then, is voting on the Web or the ArtPrize app. Visitors to Grand Rapids who experience the art get to register their opinions through two rounds of voting.

From the beginning, ArtPrize was a totally new type of citywide event. And from the beginning it has provoked discussion.

On opening day in 2009, more than 150 venues displayed the entries of 1,262 artists from more than forty states and a dozen countries. Neither the founders nor Grand Rapids was prepared for the massive public response. By the first Sunday, restaurants ran out of food. By the next Sunday, area hotels ran out of rooms. When the results came in, Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner won the public vote and the $250,000 top prize for his large-scale painting of ocean waves “Open Water No. 24.” On the final day of the event, a line to see the winning piece stretched down the street for over two blocks. In a city of approximately 200,000 residents, an estimated 210,000 people came downtown to experience ArtPrize.

ArtPrize has grown and evolved since it was founded.

In 2010, ArtPrize introduced an international jury composed of artists, critics, curators and museum directors who awarded a series of juried awards. Each year since 2010, recognized art world experts have come to Grand Rapids to participate in the judging of art and awarding of prizes.

Now in its tenth year, ArtPrize attracts a vast, enthusiastic audience of more than 26,000 visitors each day of the event to a Midwestern city ranked 26th in population in the United States. ArtPrize continues to stimulate conversation in Grand Rapids and beyond about how art connects to audiences and the role it plays in civic life.

Visit the ArtPrize website.