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We spent a week in Grand Rapids absorbing everything that was ArtPrize 2015, the world’s largest art competition. Here’s a taste of what we found.

Many thanks to Kevin Buist for talking to us about the event!

Learn more about ArtPrize: http://www.artprize.org/

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[MUSIC PLAYING]

Kevin: I'm Kevin Buist. I'm the Exhibitions Director for Art Prize. I'm responsible for all the artists and venues in the event, and then I also invite all the jurors and speakers that we bring here to the event.

Art Prize is the world's largest art competition. And so these 1,515 entries from all over the world are competing for $500,000 in cash prizes. And half of that is decided entirely by public vote, and then half of that is decided entirely by a group of jurors.

It's mostly confined to a three square mile area of the city, which is kind of centered right on the downtown area, and there are 162 locations. It's a really great creative challenge. There are a few traditional exhibition spaces. But for the most part, artists are installing work in place they never post art and that don't usually work with artists. So it's a good challenge. It gets artist out of the traditional comfort zone of how galleries and museums and things like that typically work.

The public vote is primarily an engagement tool. The public vote is a way of communicating to audiences that they matter to the art. And I think that museums and other art organizations and festivals are often in this position where they're trying to convince the public that art should matter to them. We've flipped that a little bit, because we've created a structure where the people are important to the art. And the very basis of it, the prize itself, will not happen unless people engage.