Grand Rapids plans a month of arts and culture events

Grand Rapids

La Grande Vitesse at Calder Plaza, in front of Grand Rapids City Hall. (File photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With ArtPrize canceled, a new event called The Bridge GR is trying to fill the gap.

It will run from Aug. 28 through Oct. 3 and will include more than 30 art, culture and music programs. It will feature local artists, musicians, dancers, chefs and cultural groups. There will also be community conversations about racial equity.

The Bridge GR is the product of a partnership between the city, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Experience Grand Rapids. The Downtown Development Authority redirected funds earmarked for ArtPrize — some $50,000 — to support The Bridge GR.

“This exciting community celebration serves to bridge the gap between our current reality and our brighter future,” Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington said in a statement. “Many in our community are suffering because of the pandemic, and our national conversation has been weighted with important issues of racial and economic justice. By giving our community this platform, we hope not only to celebrate who we are, but to build conversations that promote resiliency, healing, shared understanding and progress in Grand Rapids.”

The first event Aug. 28 is called “Open Windows,” referencing murals painted on the plywood covering downtown windows smashed in the May riot. Among the other events are an outdoor concert at Studio Park on Sept. 5 and line dancing at Rosa Parks Circle starting Sept. 8. On Sept. 10, Degage Ministries will display decorated pillowcases for its clients at Ah-Nab-Awen Park and on Gillett Bridge.

Organizers stressed events will include coronavirus mitigation protocols, including attendance limited to 100 and social distancing. Attendees are encouraged to wear masks.

ArtPrize announced in June that the massive art competition first held in 2009 would not return in 2020, citing concerns about coronavirus, and that its future was uncertain.

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