Grand Rapids and the Art of Collaboration

Grand Rapids and the Art of Collaboration

Several festivals take over Calder Plaza in massive crossover event with ArtPrize

Starting September 16, ArtPrize is back and with the help of some friends.

The Vandenberg Plaza, or as it’s more commonly known, Calder Plaza, will be the center stage for the annual fall arts festival, but this year, it’s more than just ArtPrize.

During the entire ArtPrize calendar, weekdays will have curated exhibitions on the Plaza and inside City Hall, but the weekends will have a decidedly different feel. The collaborative nature of our city is flexing its cultural muscles by inviting a few friends to the party on the plaza, and it is going to be fun and it is going to be busy.

Festival of the Arts brings diverse cuisine and music

During the first weekend of ArtPrize, September 17-19, Calder Plaza will share the stage with the original Grand Rapids arts festival.

The Festival of the Arts, who adjusted their schedule based on the occupancy restrictions back in June, is reemerging this fall. Instead of the typical tents serving meat on a stick, festival-goers will be able to browse different options in Grand Rapids’ most popular food trucks.

The Festival of the Arts has also collaborated with Opera Grand Rapids, The Diatribe, and Grand Jazz Fest to bring live performances to the plaza each night. That should be enough to satisfy most art lovers, but this is just the first weekend.

To get the full download from Festival of the Arts, check out their website here.

Confluence takes art to whole new level

Weekend number two of ArtPrize welcomes the new kid in town, Confluence. What is Confluence, you ask? Confluence is a 3-day multi-sensory festival that explores what’s possible when art, music, science, and technology converge.

Taking place September 23-25, the event welcomes innovators, scientists, musicians, and entrepreneurs to share their work via conversations, art takeovers, and music showcases. Located throughout the Calder Plaza, the event aims to bring world-class thinkers and doers to Grand Rapids and to introduce the public to the remarkable high-tech innovation that is currently underway throughout our region.

As a member of the Confluence steering committee, I’m pretty excited to see what they’re bringing in. They just released their music lineup, and with seven groundbreaking, national artists, they’re bringing the heat as a first-time event.

In addition to the Music Showcase, Confluence is also hosting a Maker Expo, Innovation Showcase, and an adventure-land for kids called the Future Innovators Zone. A Thought Series will also be presented at Confluence in partnership with the Grand Rapids Chamber, because collaboration happens here.

Check out more of what’s happening at

AlePrize celebrates local art and beer across the city

If all this makes you feel like you need a drink, you know you’re in the right city. It just so happens that the Beer City Brewers Guild is taking over Calder Plaza on Saturday October 2.

This year, the month of October will also be known as AlePrize in the brewing community. Taprooms of roughly 20 breweries will transform into gallery spaces, so visitors can enjoy local art and locally brewed beer all in one spot. How cool is that?

More information on that can be found at

Only in Grand Rapids

This kind of collaboration couldn’t just happen anywhere. It takes a special kind of city that is willing to work together and share the spotlight. It also takes a group like the City of Grand Rapids’ Office of Special Events, led by Evette Pittman, who is not only willing but able to juggle three events during one larger event for the sake of benefitting everyone involved.

In closing, what makes this city work is because this city works… together.


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