The latest cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic is Grand Rapids' ArtPrize. The biennial event, which draws approximately a half million people into downtown Grand Rapids, was scheduled for September 16th through October 4th.

Dave Benson/TSM

Organizers had hoped to modify the event, shifting to outdoor venues and large public areas, but ultimately couldn't find a way to assure a comfortable level of safety for participants and for the public. "Artist and venue registration fees will be refunded", according to a release posted on the Art Prize website. "Sponsors that had previously committed to participate in ArtPrize 2020 will be contacted in the coming days to arrange for the cancellation of partnership agreements."

With the cancellation came a more ominous announcement:

"The ArtPrize organization will pause its overall operations as a result of the 2020 cancellation and take time to evaluate the possibility of future events."

Here's why the future of ArtPrize is up in the air: As with any undertaking as large as ArtPrize, it requires both a major commitment in terms of staff and organization, but also a financial commitment from benefactors and underwriters. And this isn't even factoring safety issues. While some economic indicators are showing a few initial positive signs after the first wave of the coronavirus, much is still unknown.

Dave Benson/TSM

For example, many of the exhibits for ArtPrize were in downtown restaurants. Many of those restaurants are just now gradually re-opening to limited capacity, after the mandated shutdown. Operators would be balancing trying to follow state guidelines, possibly with smaller staffs, while many patrons for ArtPrize don't necessarily translate into paying customers, but those operators would still be forced to put those strained resources into maintaining crowd control and safety.

Dave Benson/TSM

And, finally, and this speaks more specifically to the 2020 event, but there is the fear of a "second wave" of coronavirus later in the year, which would possibly be about the same time as this event is scheduled.

Wendy Reed, TSM
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