The streets, sidewalks, parks, bridges, and buildings of downtown Grand Rapids will once again be overflowing with art this fall, as the world’s most-attended public art event returns after a two-year absence.
If you’re already an ArtPrize fan, you know that this 18-day celebration of creativity, connection, and community is a one-of-a-kind experience. If you’re new to ArtPrize … well, there really are no words that can prepare you for the joy, inspiration, and excitement that ArtPrize brings. You must see it, feel it, and share it to believe it!
ArtPrize 2021 retains the basic structure of its past: more than one thousand artists from around the world will display their newly created works all over downtown Grand Rapids for visitors to see, absolutely free, in the hopes of earning cash prizes. But there are some new wrinkles that will make this year’s event unlike any other ArtPrize:
This year will also see the return of juried awards and the opportunity to explore the difference (if any) between “expert” opinion and public opinion.
ArtPrize satellite locations outside the three square-mile downtown neighborhood offer additional viewing and engagement opportunities:
Visitors can also enjoy a host of community festivals& events leading up to and during ArtPrize, including:
MSU Gran Fondo, Sep. 18
Confluence, Sep. 24-25
Bourbon Fest, Sep. 24
Oktoberfest, Sep. 24-25
Global Water Festival GR, Sep. 25
Brews at the Calder, Oct 2
Cat & Nat Reunion Tour, Oct 2
Fall Bonsai Show, Oct 2-3
Dan + Shay - The Arena Tour, Oct 3
ArtPrize is a great event for kids of all ages to harness their creativity and imagination. Parents will want to download the ArtPrize map to plot out the most efficient route for their family and make sure to include stops at these exhibits kids will love. Educators can access a free Digital Education Kit to help customize an ArtPrize experience for their students. Interactive exhibits invite kids to participate in various ways. And kids 13+ can scan QR codes on select ArtPrize signage throughout the city to open up a game that allows them award monetary or non-monetary prizes to artists.
ArtPrize began in 2009 as an experiment – a totally new event, unlike anything the world had ever seen. Radically open by design, it transforms Grand Rapids into an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters. Powered by technology, the exhibition organizes independently with artists from around the world submitting their entries for display at hundreds of venues throughout the heart of the city. And it’s all free and open to the public who ultimately decides the winners.
In 2014 and 2015, London-based The Art Newspaper declared ArtPrize the world’s most attended public art event, topping exhibitions at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia (#2 in 2014) and The Tate Modern Gallery in London (#2 in 2015).
After celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018, ArtPrize was scheduled for an every-other-year format, alternating with another community-wide art festival (Project 1). However, ArtPrize 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With vaccines reducing case counts and outdoor events deemed much safer, ArtPrize is back for 2021.
Experience 10 years of ArtPrize history with this entertaining recap.
As you can imagine, there is tremendous pent-up demand for a full-fledged community festival after the COVID-19 restrictions of the past year or so. Book your hotel as soon as possible to guarantee a room. (Scroll through the list of hotel options.)