ArtPrize provides resources for sustainability


The S.O.R.T. program will be made available to the more than 175 venues hosting this year’s ArtPrize. Courtesy City of Grand Rapids

ArtPrize Nine could draw as large a crowd as it has in previous years, and the possible increase in visitors is likely to cause an increase in waste.

Last year, ArtPrize partnered with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), the city of Grand Rapids and the Kent County Department of Public Works to launch the S.O.R.T. program.

S.O.R.T., which stands for separate, organic compost, recycle and trash, provided waste-sorting stations, volunteers and educational support at six stations throughout last year’s competition area. This year, ArtPrize will provide venues everything they need to adopt S.O.R.T. practices of their own.

ArtPrize Nine takes place Sept. 20 through Oct. 8, featuring 1,560 artists and 176 venues.

“The S.O.R.T. program offers us the opportunity to educate our visitors — and wider community — about successful waste diversion,” ArtPrize Managing Director Amelea Pegman said. “We bring nearly 500,000 people downtown during the 19 days of ArtPrize and feel a responsibility to look at ways that we can minimize the environmental impact of this type of gathering.”

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (WMSBF) is offering venues a package of free resources in support of S.O.R.T. The package will include a free audit with an experienced sustainability professional, waste and recycling containers and facilitation of recycling or composting services for qualifying venues.

This year, in addition to any venues that may apply, there will be three S.O.R.T. stations servicing ArtPrize: two at Rosa Parks Circle, and one at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. The stations will run the duration of the event. ArtPrize is searching for volunteers to staff the three locations.

“It is so very helpful to have volunteers at the stations to teach our visitors about what to put in each bin,” Pegman said. “This educational piece is key to success of the stations.”

Containers provided for the event are made by RecycleBoxBin, a Grand Rapids-based recycling bin manufacturer that provides customizable waste-management options for schools, offices and businesses nationwide.

ArtPrize was founded by Rick DeVos in 2009 and is an independently organized international art competition, which takes place for 19 days each fall in Grand Rapids. The event draws over 400,000 visitors, and more than $500,000 in prizes are awarded each year.

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