GRAND RAPIDS — In just two weeks, ArtPrize will return to Grand Rapids. Inspiring the artists of the future has always been part of the ArtPrize plan.

Art is a hands-on experience for the artist. In the past, that was something school aged kids could experience during Education Days at ArtPrize. Students would meet with ArtPrize artists and get a chance to recreate their art.

It’s not easy to duplicate in a digital setting, but ArtPrize organizers are giving it their best shot.

“Creating the program back in March, April and May, we didn’t know what the landscape was going to look like for educators coming into September,” said Craig Searer, the executive director of ArtPrize.

ArtPrize wasn’t untouched by COVID-19 and the new ways we live with safety protocols, social distancing and not being so hands-on.

But what ArtPrize does have going for it has become the pandemic norm. Searer says this year’s ArtPrize has a heavy focus on digital and being outdoors.

With those elements, organizers had a lot to go on with re-creating Education Days. 

Searer says unlimited digital education kits are available to schools and organizations, so they can bring ArtPrize into the classroom or home — wherever learning is happening.

“We felt it was important for them to still have the ability to come downtown. And with ArtPrize having a heavy focus on outdoor venues and outdoor art, to keep everybody as safe as possible, we wanted still to have that aspect as well as the classroom perspective,” said Searer.

The digital Education Days downloads are broken down into three sections; grades one through five will learn about art and emotion; grades six through eighth will learn about art and community; high schoolers will concentrate on art and social justice.

“We really looked back on 2020 to see what was important for educators to build upon for 2021 … Those three themes, if you will, we felt were very important for educators to bring into the classroom and bring art into that conversation as well,” said Searer.

Thanks to PNC Bank, there are a limited number of bussing grants available to schools on a first come, first served basis.

More information about the digital Education Days can be found online.