Arts & Entertainment, Economic Development, and Travel & Tourism

Downtown reaches international Pinnacle for ArtPrize

October 25, 2013
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ArtPrize reveals Juried Short List
David Kail’s “Egg Prize” at Van Andel Arena is a finalist on ArtPrize’s Juried Short List in the use-of-urban-space category. Photo via

An international award has put downtown Grand Rapids on the global map.

The International Downtown Association has selected ArtPrize and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. for its 2013 Pinnacle Award, which is given annually for excellence in place management.

The award is the IDA’s highest honor, and it recognizes innovative events and programming that improve the image and vitality of a central city.

“We’re on the global map,” said Downtown Development Authority Chairman Brian Harris.

ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines said downtown was central to the ArtPrize experience and critical to the success of the event that draws 400,000 to the city each fall and adds $15 million to the local economy.

“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 David Downey, president and CEO of the IDA, based in Washington, D.C. "The ArtPrize-DGRI partnership is a wonderful example for all downtowns to emulate.”

Public-private model

Downey also said ArtPrize has helped the city evolve in how it plans for, organizes and executes public events and has encouraged more active cooperation among city officials, event producers, building owners and other stakeholders in the downtown district.

The partnership began in the arts competition’s first year in 2009, when the DDA provided $25,000 in financial support for the inaugural event, just a few months after ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos revealed his plan. The DDA is part of DGRI.

“The value that city leaders bring to ArtPrize is incalculable," Gaines said. "Their support and encouragement have helped make Grand Rapids a destination for creativity and entrepreneurship."

DGRI President and CEO Kristopher Larson accepted the award, which was given at the IDA’s annual meeting in New York.

“I was very honored to accept that award,” said Larson, who was a featured speaker at the meeting.

Higher tier

Larson also revealed that a recent national report rated downtown in the same tier as Brooklyn, N.Y., and San Francisco for employment density.

“Our competition is not Rochester. It’s not Lansing,” Larson said. “We are competing with the great American cities.”

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