ArtPrize has been a Grand Rapids’ staple for the past 10 years, bringing in people from all over the world to experience art in every form, right here in our city. From students to professionals, ArtPrize has been an event that has united the community around a common purpose: to open citywide contemporary art experiences that encourage critical discourse, celebrate artists, transform urban space and promote cultural understanding.
Not only has ArtPrize been an amazing event for people to experience, but over the past ten years, it has also highlighted the importance of art in our community and played an important role in boosting the economy, helping local shops and restaurants alike. With the cancellation of ArtPrize this year due to Covid-19, the city of Grand Rapids looked to fill its place with another event that would focus on the importance of Art and Culture in West Michigan, and this is where the idea for The Bridge came to life.
The Bridge is an event that was created not to replace ArtPrize, but to safely gather the community around a common purpose and to also boost the economy in a time when local businesses need it the most. When word originally came out that ArtPrize would be canceled, Grand Rapids Mayor, Rosalynn Bliss, and Supervisor of Special Events, Evette Pittman, came together with the idea to still bring the community together in a way that would focus on the importance of Art and Culture in our community. Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., as well as the Grand Rapids Chamber, also assisted in the creation of The Bridge project. Not only was the mission of The Bridge to bring entertainment and activities to the community, but also to create conversation and awareness around many of the social justice issues going on in our world today.
Several events slated for ArtPrize were still able to be a part of The Bridge, such as the Pillowcase Project – an art demonstration bringing awareness to the growing number of women facing homelessness. New events, such as Chalk the Town, and a Night with the Opera, were also added, as well as movie nights and a variety of cultural festivals intended to spark conversation and promote cultural understanding.
The success of the event was made possible by the businesses and community members here in Grand Rapids. The Bridge was an amazing addition to the fall line-up of events in Grand Rapids, and one that people will remember for years to come.