The Effect of Artprize on Grand Rapids

For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking a lot about ArtPrize. The world’s largest art festival has taken over the city and, like the nine years before, has been a major success. Here at Brothers, we have been grateful to have been a part of ArtPrize for the last two years, hosting artists in our Flagship Store as a venue. We’ve also been fortunate to share some of ArtPrize Nine’s success in the form of HUGE foot traffic through our doors over the last two and a half weeks.

This got us thinking: What is the impact of ArtPrize on the city of Grand Rapids?

What are the biggest factors that ArtPrize effects, and what does that mean for residents and businesses in our community?

I decided to do a little digging, and I learned a little more about this giant art festival and its impact on Grand Rapids!


According to data from an MLive article written in 2013, ArtPrize, on average, contributes around $15 million to the Grand Rapids economy. This is a huge boost, especially considering that Grand Rapids is a mid-size American city, dwarfed by the likes of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Thanks to ArtPrize, businesses are able to focus this extra income into growth, new hires, and investing in other businesses and organizations.

It’s a snowball effect really; the tourism dollars that ArtPrize pulls into the local business community drives business (and profits) through the roof! Simple enough. But this extra income also allows these local businesses to invest in themselves.

This growth and heightened quality creates a better customer experience overall, and of course, if you had a wonderful customer experience, you are going to tell your friends and family. Before you know it, the small, little-known business around the corner is thinking of opening up several other locations around town.


Though it is impossible to get an exact number of tourists that visit Grand Rapids for ArtPrize, the average annual number is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. This sizable figure results in more than simply maxed out hotels and a two hour wait at your favorite diner. These tourists represent hundreds of locations both in the US and around the world...and if we were the gambling type, we’d be willing to bet that when they returned home, that most of them are talking about their ArtPrize experience in the city of Grand Rapids. Soon, the city is known in Shanghai, London, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. This upswing in popularity helps in other areas, such as tourism and the local economy.


A colossal influx of visitors to the city means a huge increase in foot traffic for local businesses. Many businesses don’t have enough regular employees to serve the number of visitors they receive during ArtPrize. As a result, businesses either hire new employees, increase the hours for current employees, or both. All of the options have positive impacts as more people earn money to either spend or save, helping out the local economy and (not to mention) our personal finances. While some of these jobs are temporary for the duration of ArtPrize, many have potential for full time positions, thus helping many families and individuals make a living.


When people outside of Michigan think of the Mitten State, they might imagine a state suffering from the decline in the manufacturing industry. While this may be true for some areas, it is far from the truth of the Grand Rapids area. Grand Rapids is thriving more than ever, thanks to its transition into the service industry and from the continued success of large global businesses such as Amway and Steelcase. There is no better way to showcase that to the world than through its biggest stage, ArtPrize. As an added benefit, the entire city is known for its beer, food, the Grand River, as well as being a hub for The Arts and Culture. Every year, visitors return to their hometown from ArtPrize and are sure to tell their family and friends about their time spent in the amazing and beautiful city of Grand Rapids.

There are many other factors that affect Grand Rapids as a result of Artprize, all benefitting the city that kindly hosts hundreds of thousands every September and October. While it is too early to say, I’m guessing that this year’s number of visitors have topped previous ArtPrize attendance by a landslide! If you weren’t able to check out ArtPrize this year, make sure to mark it on your calendars at the end of September 2018.

In the meantime, you can check out our personal art piece; handcrafted leather goods! Stop into our Flagship Store to see our leather goods in person, or check them out on the web where you can order from the comfort of your home.

Remember to stop by every Wednesday for new blog posts about Brothers Leather and our community!


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