Innovation That Matters

Crowds judge world's biggest art prize

Publishing & Media

Judged by a select group of insiders, art awards aren’t known for their democratic approach. Uprooting that tradition is a contest that’s currently being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArtPrize will award the world’s largest prize—USD 250,000—to the piece of art that receives the most votes from visitors. Aiming to “reboot the conversation between artists and audiences on a grand scale” the competition allows any artist to enter, any visitor to vote and any venue in Grand Rapids to exhibit. By uploading their portfolios on the ArtPrize website and connecting with venues, 1,262 artists have secured exhibition space at 159 sites across the city, including galleries, office lobbies and outdoor public spaces. Voting is divided into two separate stages. During the first week, each visitor can give an “up-vote” to every piece they like, and a “down-vote” for every entry that doesn’t take their fancy. (Only up-votes will decide the winner; down-votes are used to help highlight the most controversial works, or decide in case of a tie.) In the second week, the top ten pieces are voted on—one person, one vote. To be eligible to vote, all visitors must register in person with ID. They can then vote online, or via mobile devices as they browse through the galleries. The winner will be announced on October 8. ArtPrize is the brainchild of entrepreneur Rick DeVos, son of local businessman and politician Dick DeVos, who is sponsoring the competition through his family’s charitable foundation. It’s breaking ground not only by letting the crowd be the judge, but also in allowing any artist to enter and any space to exhibit. For two weeks, the city of Grand Rapids is one big art gallery, and a smart example of how to put crowd clout to work. Spotted by: Jordan O’Neil



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