GRAND RAPIDS — After considering modifications to enable more social distancing and focus on outdoor spaces, the ArtPrize board of directors announced today it was canceling this year’s event as the nonprofit re-evaluates its future.
“Everyone had hoped to find modifications that would enable us to host the exhibition safely,” ArtPrize board member Marc Schwartz said in a statement. “We initially shifted plans to focus on outdoor spaces and large indoor venues. However, after analyzing the situation further and considering the unknowns, we realized that hosting such an event was not the best course forward. Although very disappointing, we believe it is the best decision to ensure the well-being of our constituents.”
The organization said it was pausing its overall operations and will “take time to evaluate the possibility of future events.”
On May 29, ArtPrize Artistic Director Kevin Buist had told MiBiz that the organization was still developing new safety guidelines and would be “talking about those publicly very soon.” Two weeks earlier, officials announced the event would still take place with modifications.
This year’s event was scheduled to take place from Sept. 16-Oct. 4 in downtown Grand Rapids. However, organizers said challenges included artist and tourist travel, uncertainty around potential state orders and other health and safety considerations.
ArtPrize officials said artist and venue registration fees will be refunded and that they would contact sponsors “in the coming days” to cancel partnership agreements.
“While we won’t come together to experience art as we have in prior years, I hope that all of us can find our own unique way to connect with Grand Rapids in the months ahead,” ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos said in a statement. “Our community is known as one that comes together in challenging times and we all need each other now more than ever.”