The International Downtown Association (IDA) yesterday honored ArtPrize and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc (DGRI) with the 2013 Pinnacle Award for excellence in place management. The award, IDA’s highest honor, recognizes innovative events and programming that improve the image and vitality of the central city. It was presented at IDA’s World Congress and 59th Annual Meeting in New York City.

“We are deeply honored by this recognition,” said DGRI President and CEO Kristopher Larson. “This award is a tribute to the remarkably collaborative network of people we’ve built around an event that not only restarted the conversation about art and culture, but also inspires heightened creativity in our place-making movement, compels huge new audiences to experience downtown, and ultimately generates amazing returns for our community.”

ArtPrize, which recently concluded its fifth annual competition, has matured from an open-sourced art competition into an international spectacle. Named by TIME magazine as one of the “Five Festive Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2013,” ArtPrize now annually attracts an estimated 400,000 people and generates more than $15 million annually for downtown Grand Rapids. Comparatively, the Red Wing’s 2008 Stanley Cup Series generated $9.3 million for Detroit.

ArtPrize has also helped evolve the way the city of Grand Rapids plans for, organizes, and executes public events in the urban core. In contrast to the traditional approach of planning in isolation, ArtPrize:

  • Encourages more active and cooperative participation among city officials, event producers, and downtown stakeholders.
  • Provides a web-based platform that connects artists to venues and enables event goers to vote and ultimately shape the outcome of the competition.
  • Engages downtown businesses, through venue registration, as true partners in the event, rather than bystanders hoping customers will come through the door.

These and other event management innovations have, among other impressive results, helped simplify the logistics of municipal regulations, democratized the appreciation of art, and decentralized the economic potential for public events.

“Connecting emotionally and aesthetically with downtown Grand Rapids is central to the ArtPrize experience and critical to the event’s success,” said Christian Gaines, executive director of ArtPrize. “The value that city leaders bring to the ArtPrize equation is incalculable. Their support and encouragement have helped make Grand Rapids a destination for creativity and entrepreneurship, and we are thrilled to be a part of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s 2013 Pinnacle Award for Excellence in Placemaking.”

ArtPrize was among 13 qualified entries in the Pinnacle Award category of events and programming. The submitted projects and initiatives considered in this category come from a variety of organizations working to enhance their central cities through either 1) executing events that attract visitors by improving the vitality of downtown or 2) delivering projects that communicate the vision, mission, function, and achievements of the downtown or business district association.

“The IDA Awards Jury each year honors the very best programs and projects to recognize great work and most importantly to set the standard for best practice in our industry,” said IDA President and CEO David Downey. “The ArtPrize-DGRI partnership is a wonderful example for all downtowns to emulate.”

About ArtPrize

ArtPrize is an international art competition, open to any artist and decided by public vote. It invites artists to try out new ideas on a large and diverse population of people. It seeks to broaden the critical dialogue around contemporary art by awarding the world’s largest art prize, at $560,000. Registered artists and venues connect online at and agree to present the artwork for public display during the 19 day event. The public votes using mobile devices and the web to distribute $360,000, while an additional $200,000 in juried awards are decided by a group of international art experts. ArtPrize 2013 will include 1,524 entries representing 47 countries and 45 U.S. states and territories, and is expected to attract more than 400,000 active participants. Since its inception, individuals of all backgrounds have cast more than 1.7 million votes for public art.

About Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc is the singular management entity for the combined energy and operations of the Downtown Development Authority, the Downtown Alliance, the Downtown Improvement District, the City of Grand Rapids Office of Special Events, and the Monroe North Tax Increment Finance Authority.

About International Downtown Association

The Washington D.C. based International Downtown Association is a champion for vital and livable urban centers and strives to inform, influence, and and inspire downtown leaders and advocates. With 550 members and thousands of friends, IDA is a guiding force in creating healthy and dynamic centers that anchor the well-being of towns, cities, and regions.