Study: ArtPrize 2013 had $22M impact

ArtPrize 2013 winner "Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore" by Ann Loveless of Frankfort, Mich. (file photo)
ArtPrize 2013 winner "Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore" by Ann Loveless of Frankfort, Mich. (file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Experience Grand Rapids (EXGR) on Monday released a study that reveals ArtPrize 2013 added $22 million to the local economy, attracted more than 380,400 attendees and created 253 jobs.

East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group (AEG) conducted the study.

ArtPrize is the world’s largest art competition held annually in downtown Grand Rapids. “Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore” by Ann Loveless won the $200,000 grand prize during last year’s event. Her landscape art quilt was displayed at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

“ArtPrize has proven to be an overwhelming success for Grand Rapids and has helped to significantly elevate our profile nationally as an arts destination,” Doug Small, president of EXGR, said in a news release. “The city and region has been recognized as the top destination to visit in 2014 by Lonely Planet, and CNN’s ’50 States, 50 Spots for 2014’’ profiled ArtPrize as Michigan’’s must-see event.”

“ArtPrize 2013: Economic Impact and Attendee Profile” was jointly funded by EXGR, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., and ArtPrize.

In 2011, AEG conducted an economic impact study of ArtPrize that was also led by EXGR. This study focused on an analysis of event attendance and spending, cultural and long-term benefits, and overall economic impacts.

The 2013 report takes a look at all of these factors, plus provides a detailed look at attendance demographics to illustrate the broad audience that ArtPrize attracts to the Grand Rapids region.

Both analyses looked at event attendance, attendee spending, local spending by the ArtPrize organization, and the economic impacts that accrue beyond the initial expenditures of attendees and the host organization.

Key findings in the study include:

  • ArtPrize 2013 attracted more than 380,400 attendees, which is nearly 20 percent above the 2011 estimate of 322,000
  • The economic impact from ArtPrize 2013 was $22.2 million in net new output, including $6.3 million in earnings and 253 jobs
  • ArtPrize provides long-term, intangible benefits to the Grand Rapids area including cultural enrichment, increased social capital and awareness of the region
  • Ridership of The Rapid increased to 158,000 rides, a 58 percent increase from 2012
  • More than half of attendees indicated that local shopping and visiting farmers markets, as well as outdoor recreation, were regular activities

“In just five years, ArtPrize has become a cornerstone event for the Grand Rapids economy and Michigan’s leading cultural experience,” said Scott D. Watkins, director of market and industry analysis at AEG. “Twenty-two million dollars in new economic activity and 253 jobs supported by ArtPrize are impressive figures, but the event’s greater value lies in its annual nature, still growing appeal and the positive exposure that it brings the city and the state.”

In the 2013 report, AEG suggests that the attendance numbers are conservative and were likely to have exceeded 400,000 during the 19-day event. In addition, ArtPrize attendees in 2013 came from across the country and around the world. Of the survey participants, 13.3 percent indicated they resided in the city of Grand Rapids, while 49 percent of attendees were from outside the tri-county area.

Zip code analyses of ArtPrize voters also confirm attendees from every U.S. state and 18 countries. As for out-of-state attendees, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio lead the Midwest, while Florida, California, Texas, North Carolina and New York yielded top numbers outside the region.

“Grand Rapids is among the most innovative and forward-thinking urban communities in the United States. The AEG report confirms much of what we see during ArtPrize, its magnetic attraction for people from near and far,” said Kris Larson, president and CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.. “ArtPrize successfully builds a stage for our downtown to perform to our community and beyond, and it sets the pace for attracting a broad and inclusive audience to Downtown Grand Rapids.”

While the 2013 AEG study is the second analysis of ArtPrize, the economic impact represents a secondary benefit to the defining purpose of ArtPrize: to positively influence West Michigan’s cultural community, open new opportunities for artists and create a whole new audience of passionate art-lovers.

“Healthy economic impact results are always welcome, but we are most eager to gather clues and learn lessons from this report that will make ArtPrize a great place for artists, and that will continue to shape the event and the organization’s commitment to radical ideas, unbridled creativity and freedom of expression,” said Christian Gaines, executive director at ArtPrize.

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