New Year’s Eve surprise: ArtPrize says it will return in 2021

ArtPrize

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Though its future was uncertain after the 2020 event was canceled, ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition, says it will return in 2021.

The competition will run Sept. 16 to Oct. 3 in downtown Grand Rapids.

ArtPrize says it will give out $450,000 in grants and prizes. It said to expect more information about artist and venue registration dates soon.

“This is wonderful news for our community,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said of ArtPrize’s return in a Thursday statement. “ArtPrize is an international art event that draws widespread attention to our city and has a significant economic impact on our local economy. I welcome this exciting announcement about ArtPrize 2021 after this challenging year that shuttered events and celebrations.”

The 2020 competition was canceled in June, citing coronavirus concerns. At the time, it was unclear whether it would ever be back — it said it was putting all all operations on hold “to evaluate the possibility of future events.”

The loss of the 2020 competition was a sucker punch to downtown restaurants, which bring in big profits each year during the massive, three-week event. They had already been struggling because of long coronavirus closures and property damage caused by the late May riot.

“We can’t thank you enough for your patience, support and understanding as we all navigated through an unexpected and challenging year,” ArtPrize said in a release. “We look forward with anticipation into the New Year and the opportunity to work with our community to create the best ArtPrize yet—one that will inspire hope and excitement in Grand Rapids and beyond, bringing us together in new ways, celebrating artists and art lovers, and fostering a sense of openness and healing.”

ArtPrize was first held in 2009 and ArtPrize 10 was held in 2018. The competition was not held in 2019 and was instead replaced with a public art event called Project 1.

An ArtPrize spokesperson said the organization had not yet looked forward to whether it would bring back the public art projects, which were designed to alternate years with the competition, saying, “we’re focusing all our energy on ArtPrize 2021.” The spokesperson said more information for future years would be available in coming months.

Some of the organization’s staff is no longer with the organization and it has been without an executive director for more than a year. We’re told Marc Schwartz, who is currently on the board of directors, is serving as the acting executive director.

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