Artists energize places. But how? And for how long?
Advocates are sponsoring art activities throughout the US and trying to determine their impact.
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Over 19 days, beginning on September 19, more than 300,000 people will saunter through the center of Grand Rapids, Michigan—enjoying, judging, and responding to art works and arts activities spread across a three-square-mile area.
The visitors—from Michigan and in some instances far beyond—will vote for the pieces they like the most. They’ll get acquainted, or reacquainted, with what this Midwestern city of 189,000 people has to offer. And they’ll leave approximately $15 million behind—in revenue for restaurants, shops, hotels, and other enterprises.
Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize, an open competition now in its fourth year, has become one of America’s most notable local programs aimed at enticing a broad population to interact with art, in venues benefiting selected geographic areas.
Connections between art and place are increasingly on the minds of artists, urbanists, and economic developers. These links are being nurtured in communities throughout the US, thanks to a multitude of local organizations and to ArtPlace, a national program that awarded its first grants, totaling $11.5 million, in June and July of 2011.
“What every mayor wants to do is create opportunities for people in his city, opportunities for people to prosper,” says Carol Coletta, who organized ArtPlace after six years as director of CEOs