ArtPrize’s worth goes far beyond the art


The Business Journal has opined a few times in the last nine years that the thrill of ArtPrize would be short(er) lived without community support of the cash kind. The Business Journal is reporting the results of the Anderson Economic Group report on ArtPrize impact. As AP year 10 is in the making, organizers are popping a cork in celebration for corporate sponsors providing 60 percent of the budget for the annual competition in 2017, according to ArtPrize Executive Director Jori Bennett. The organization also has secured a new level of sustainability, with more than 20 “high-level funders committed to multiyear sponsorships representing $3.2 million in revenue booked through 2020.”

Nonprofits and foundations provided another 24 percent of the budget in 2017. The Business Journal reported in 2016 that ArtServe Michigan showed a record-breaking year for the region: The creative economy in Grand Rapids was worth $3.6 billion, according to its survey of wages paid to more than 74,000 employees at nearly 10,000 businesses. The report also noted arts and culture in Kent County brought in $2 billion worth of tourism.

Experience Grand Rapids CEO Doug Small was quoted in the organization’s press release noting, “… the city, its residents, artists and business owners are all magnified and made better because of the talent and attraction ArtPrize helps to produce and inspire.”

One of the most famous “attractions” was that of Nevada-based Switch. Corporate C-suite executives were looking over sites and the city, happily at the same time the festival was fully underway. Switch not only established its “eastern” headquarters in Gaines Township but, within a year, also established the STEAM Village at ArtPrize.

By popular demand of the area education community, ArtPrize began incorporating educational experiences and students in the 19-day festival in its second year. The popular STEAM Village came to be part of the celebration during ArtPrize Eight. Every member of the Michigan Legislature should tour STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) Village as part of deliberation in state education expenditures and policies. As the Business Journal reported in March, the most recently released report, the 2018 State of Michigan Education Report by Education Trust-Midwest, shows Michigan third-graders are now the “lowest-performing students in the U.S. among peers based on the state’s assessment.”

The value of ArtPrize to this region is far greater than its art, recognition, tourism attraction or world rank. It can be the catalyst to change Michigan’s unconscionable education failure to children — and the employers dependent on their skills.

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