Saw this posted on Cool News but I am not sure how I feel about this type of judging. What do you think?
Grand Rapids, Michigan is one of a number of communities using the arts as an economic stimulant, reports John Wisely in USA Today (9/28/10). Rick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune, came up with the idea to offer a total of $449,000 in prizes in an arts competition. This year, more than 1,200 artists submitted pieces with Grand Rapids residents voting for their favorites, using "their mobile phones to text in thumbs up or thumbs down on various works."
The competition, called ArtPrize, "drew an estimated 200,000 people downtown, far exceeding expectations ... A research team from Michigan's Grand Valley State University estimated the economic impact of ArtPrize at $5 million to $7 million." This year's event -- ArtPrize's second -- is on now through October 10th, and so far "local restaurants and bars are reporting sales up 20 percent to 40 percent over last year's opening days."
Baltimore has a similar program, called Artscape, "which features visual and performing arts across the city for a weekend." It "drew more than 350,000 people in 2009 and generated about $26 million for the economy." The only naysayers are art experts who think everyday people have no business judging arts competitions. Even Ran Ortner, who won $250,000 in last year's ArtPrize, agrees: "If you have children voting on a culinary competition, they are going to vote for the ice cream and candy" he says.