ArtPrize a DeVos winner

November 30, 2009
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The convention center’s management wants to expand the role DeVos Place plays in next year’s ArtPrize.

DeVos Place Assistant General Manager Eddie Tadlock said the art competition drew over 15,000 people to the convention center during its 18-day run to view the 29 pieces on display there. The building also hosted the event’s closing reception that drew 2,700 people to the Steelcase Ballroom and brought in roughly $18,000 in revenue.

“It’s our intent to grow our involvement next year,” said SMG Regional General Manager Rich MacKeigan, who added that the building offers ArtPrize an art-museum-like setting. “We will also look to make it more of a destination.”

Adding more artwork for display — possibly up to 50 pieces — is one step that could be taken to make the building more of a destination. “We’re looking at more pieces, like sculptures along the river,” said Tadlock. Selling refreshments, including wine, and offering the public access to the building’s restrooms are two other possibilities.

Tadlock said another part of the plan is to encourage arts-related groups to hold meetings at DeVos Place during the competition, which would also give those groups some complementary entertainment.

MacKeigan said it cost DeVos Place from $5,000 to $10,000 to be an ArtPrize venue and hold receptions for the event. He said he would have a proposal for the building’s expanded role in next year’s competition ready in January.

“I think it’s fair to say that ArtPrize was a learning experience for everybody,” said Lew Chamberlin, CAA board member and chairman of the Operations Committee.

MacKeigan also reported that the 2nd Annual Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival was a success. Attendance for the three-day event held in DeVos Place was up by 26 to 30 percent from last year’s.

“We were in the black. The numbers are still being calculated,” he said.

The initial festival drew 7,000 people, but lost about $30,000. Attendance this year is estimated at closer to 10,000, and more than 250,000 tasting tickets were sold. At 50 cents per ticket, that works out to be roughly $125,000.

MacKeigan said switching one of the event’s days from Sunday to Thursday this year was a draw as far as the Thursday attendance number was concerned.

MacKeigan also said the festival’s producers, the Convention and Arena Authority and Showspan Inc., may approach Kendall College of Art & Design about asking students to design an official poster for next year’s festival.

“If all things worked out, it might be an ArtPrize entry,” he said.

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