ArtPrize names Christian Gaines executive director


Christian Gaines. Photo via

ArtPrize has hired business development specialist Christian Gaines as its executive director.

Gaines has experience in staff management, fundraising and programming for major film festivals. He most recently provided festival strategy and business development for entertainment database site

In his role with ArtPrize, he will be responsible for finance, operations, marketing and administration.

“There were a lot of things about the event that attracted me,” Gaines said of his new role. “One of the things that really impressed me was its significant accomplishments to date.”

Gaines noted that like independent film, ArtPrize involves working with art, artists and audiences, and he looks forward to building those relationships even further in the festivals fourth year.

He particularly likes the public voting part of the process, both for the way it engages all levels of art enthusiasts, from newcomers just developing an interest to art professionals interested particularly in the juried awards.

Only his second day into the role he said there are no plans for major changes underway.

Gaines replaces Daryn Kuipers who has served as ArtPrize interim executive director.

ArtPrize also announced that Founders Brewing Co. has signed on as a premier leadership sponsor and will be the official brewery for the festival for the next five years.

“We approached ArtPrize because we love this community and we love what the event has done for this city,” said Mike Stevens, co-founder and CEO of Founders. “Our taproom has been a venue since year one, so we anticipate ArtPrize, just like everyone else. We chose to increase our commitment this year and can’t wait to pair our world-class beer with the most engaging art event in the world.”

Elements of the partnership include offering Founders beer at all official ArtPrize events, signage, promotion, merchandise, specialized glassware and other specialized items during the 19-day event. Additionally, the brewery will be recognized as a major sponsor at all ArtPrize events, and will be featured on the ArtPrize promotional poster.

Artist registration for this year’s ArtPrize began on Monday and is open through June 6. Venues were able to register between March 11-April 11. Beginning April 29, artists and venues will be able to connect with one another on Each artist must secure a connection with a venue by June 20, 2013.

Once again there will be a public vote, with the top 10 vote getters receiving cash prizes, and six juried awards, also recognized with cash prizes. In total ArtPrize will distribute $560,000 in prizes, $360,000 by public vote, and $200,000 by the professional jury, making the competition the world’s largest art prize based on total monetary prizes distributed.

ArtPrize is being held in Grand Rapids Sept. 18-Oct. 6.

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