ArtPrize re-booting buzz between artists and public

August 10, 2009
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As Rick DeVos’ ArtPrize draws ever nearer, more companies are finding ways to become involved. For instance, Steelcase plans to have its Coalesce seating stations set up at critical points throughout the city to encourage people to sit down and chat about what they are seeing. The Rapid will run transit routes at specific times, and Varnum is looking at ways to take advantage of its lofty Bridgewater Place headquarters that promise the best city and river views.

Artists and art lovers will descend upon the city Sept. 23-Oct. 10 from locations around the region, nation and world. Art experts will tour and blog about the exhibits and deliver talks to the public. And art will be scattered everywhere, from The BOB to the river to the old Federal Building and beyond.

Needless to say, there are many entrepreneurial opportunities available to collect some U.S. government “art” — you know, the kind with portraits of dead U.S. presidents printed on a field of green. In that endeavor, art students have begun to offer to sublet apartments and local nightlife hotspots are planning to throw parties targeted to the ArtPrize crowd.

One of the big reasons ArtPrize is drawing such national and global attention is because of the first-place prize of $250,000. But to DeVos, the biggest deal is not the monetary prize.

“One of the goals of this thing was to get people talking about events and art in completely different ways,” DeVos told the Business Journal last week. “A lot of the goals have already been accomplished. We have well over 100 venues and I guarantee each one of those has been talking about art.”

DeVos hopes the event will not only draw attention to the city of Grand Rapids, but also draw young people here.

“ArtPrize has been … aligned with a lot of different activities and thoughts around attracting and retaining young professionals. An attractive city has an attractive culture, so we’re looking to create a major one. I guarantee most 20-somethings wouldn’t know what Park City, Utah, was … unless Sundance Film Festival was there. Big, engaging cultural events really bring people to these places.”

Late last week, more than 600 artists had secured a space within a venue, with 1,731 artists registered. Approximately 1,100 artists will attempt to secure a venue by Aug. 15.

All teed off for PDR

While the Open Space subcommittee, made up of seven Kent County commissioners, is getting ready to ask the county to finance its Purchase of Development Rights program, Kendra Wills of the MSU Extension Service told the Business Journal the county Agricultural Preservation Board and County Commissioner Stan Ponstein are putting together a one-day golf outing on a fairly open space to raise funds for the same purpose.

Tee It Up for AG is set for Sept. 9 at Briarwood Golf Club in Caledonia. Wills said the cost is $75 per golfer and includes a cart, continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s $100 to sponsor a hole and $1,000 to be a full sponsor. She said they’re also looking for prize donations for the hole contests, silent auction and gift bags.

Proceeds will go to the preservation board’s endowment fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation. More information is available at www.unitedgrowth.org or by calling Ponstein at 726-2331. The deadline is Sept. 1.

Movement in the media

As Citadel Communications Corp. prepared to debut a new and newsier radio format for its 1340 AM station in Grand Rapids today, a notable television news opening was filled by a veteran TV newsman at WZZM 13.

As reported in an exclusive breaking news Business Journal Web story last week, WJRW — “We’re Talking West Michigan”— is a news and talk radio format that replaces the WBBL Sports programming recently moved to Citadel’s high-power FM frequency at 107.3. Citadel Broadcasting Corp. Market Manager Matt Hanlon told the Business Journal the 24-hour news talk station is aimed at a primary target of men ages 25 to 64. WBBL’s programming of ESPN sports content has been picked up by 96.1 in Grand Rapids.

The station’s tentative weekday morning lineup will include the syndicated program of Michael Patrick Shiels, a former J.P. McCarthy radio program producer who has been airing in the Lansing market; the Tony Gates Show by the veteran WLAV personality, who will still do his drive-time show on that station; and Frank Beckmann’s Citadel-owned WJR morning Detroit program, which will be re-aired locally from noon-2 p.m.

The tentative afternoon segments will include “Vision Grand Rapids,” local talk and West Michigan news blocks. Evening programming will include the syndicated Mark Levin show and the overnight will air live Midnight Trucking Radio. Talk variety programming is planned for weekends.

The station may develop a polished local news team to go head-to-head with the downsized WOOD Radio crew and the consistent efforts of WGVU’s news programming. Hanlon was still negotiating last week with several other prominent media personalities.

Stanton Tang has been promoted to news and information director of WZZM 13 and wzzm13.com. Tang has been executive producer at WZZM 13 since December 2005 and interim news director for the past two months. He has held news management positions at KLAS in Las Vegas and news producing positions at KCRA in Sacramento and KPNX in Phoenix. WZZM is a Gannet-owned ABC affiliate.

“Stanton brings 20 years of experience in journalism on multiple platforms: TV, cable, mobile and online,” said Janet Mason, president and general manager of WZZM 13/wzzm13.com. “We’re confident that under his leadership, WZZM 13 will continue its tradition of strong journalism and innovative ways to use technology to connect with our viewers.”

Tang graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in broadcast station management and advertising. He replaces Tim Geraghty, who was promoted to vice president/information director at KXTV, the Gannett-owned ABC station in Sacramento.

A taxing breakthrough

Despite not being known for his weather predictions, Grand Valley Metro Council Executive Director Don Stypula boldly said lightning struck and the stars magically aligned in Lansing last week. Why? Because a Republican in the state Senate is expected to endorse a tax hike!

Stypula said Sen. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac, plans to introduce a bill that will include the 13 recommendations made by a state transportation task force to raise more road money. If he does, Gilbert can likely expect an invitation to a tea party. Or maybe he drinks coffee. Nearing the end zone

The last remaining Grand Rapids Rampage executive has said his virtual goodbye and is heading to Cleveland. Late last week, team GM Scott Woodruff e-mailed us to say he is leaving GR to join the operating company of the NBA’s Cavaliers and the AHL’s Monsters, where he will lead the hockey team’s sales team. His move all but officially seals the fate for the Rampage and the soon-to-be-defunct Arena Football League.

Palin’s Zondervan link heats up

There's a buzz in the U.S. news media about Sarah Palin's forthcoming book, which is due out next year. The former VP candidate/governor of Alaska is a hot property in the publishing world, and there's talk about a very lucrative book contract on her to-do list.

Vanity Fair magazine reported that Zondervan will publish a special version of it — apparently with a religious twist — while the firm’s parent company, HarperCollins, will publish the secular version.

Karen Campbell, a spokesperson for Zondervan, said she doesn't know too much about it at this point. But she did say she believes Palin's book will be a memoir.

The writer selected to help Palin craft her memoirs is Lynn Vincent, who works for World Magazine, a religious periodical.

Here's hoping Grand Rapids gets a Palin visit out it: Media circus events are always good for business.

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