Grand Rapids ArtPrize 2021

Aislinn Teachout

After a three-year hiatus, the highly anticipated and beloved ArtPrize is returning to Grand Rapids! The art competition shifted from an annual to bi-annual schedule in 2018 and COVID-19 interrupted plans for the event in 2020. So, we are welcoming the festival back to the city for the first time since 2018. Here is everything you need to know about ArtPrize 2021!

The Details

The international art competition and festival begins on Thursday, September 16th and ends Sunday, October 3rd. During that time, you can find art installations scattered throughout Downtown Grand Rapids. Most venues are located within the ArtPrize District which spans three-square miles of downtown. There are a few outside the city center as well including, Frederick Meijer Gardens, the Creston Neighborhood, Campau Park, and the Center for Community Transformation. While much of the festival has been outdoors in years past, this year is focused even more on outdoor exhibitions to ensure safety and mitigate COVID-19 risks. Specifically for this reason, there is an outdoor-only venue map that can be found here. For a map of all venues, click here.

As always, the festival is completely free – no tickets needed. Venues are open to the public and the minimum hours of operation are Monday-Thursday 5-8pm, Friday & Saturday 12-8pm, and Sundays 12-6pm. Check the individual venues for their exact hours.

What’s new in 2021?

Although the overall premise and location are the same, there are a few notable changes being introduced for ArtPrize 2021. For starters, thanks in part to COVID-19, spectators are welcome to consume alcoholic beverages as they walk around and enjoy the art. Alcohol consumption is allowed in the defined social districts which can be identified by marked boundaries. Beverages may be purchased at any participating restaurant or bar that offers to-go drinks and consumed in the designated districts.

The voting system is also new this year! To make for a more interactive experience, QR codes will be placed around each venue for spectators to scan with their smartphones. Within the codes are hidden prizes – both monetary and nonmonetary – for spectators to find and award to artists of their choosing. There are 500 monetary prizes ranging from $250-$1,500, and the artist awarded with the most total prizes will win the $50,000 grand prize. A total of $450,000 will be awarded to artists over the course of the competition. The new format was designed in hopes of welcoming deeper engagement between the spectators, the art, and the artists. For more information, download the free ArtPrize App, or check their website.

This festival is one of many offerings that make Grand Rapids such a vibrant, exciting place to live. Be sure not to miss ArtPrize 2021!

For recommendations on where to eat and other things to do in the city, check out our Grand Rapids City Guide.



This year, the festival is focused on outdoor exhibitions to ensure safety and mitigate COVID-19 risks.