Blog: Rick DeVos

Rick DeVos is the creator behind ArtPrize and other ventures that have a common theme of empowering, expanding, and enlightening conversation. His interest in using social media to decentralize control of the event, an international art competition, has excited some and rankled others. Whichever side you fall on, one thing is certain: This inaugural year represents a huge social experiment. Rick's here to talk about it this week.

Post 2: Why Michigan Needs the Arts

Having worked for several years now on startup businesses, I've become more and more aware of the importance of attracting and retaining talented individuals to work with, and of being part of a larger ecosystem of individuals and businesses that are committed to experimentation, innovation, and building new things.

Some of the major and broad goals of ArtPrize that have been present since the beginning are to inspire people in the region with new ideas and possibilities, to jump quickly from thinking to doing, and generally help to shift the local culture to embrace and support more creative risk taking. These goals are also why I think it is important for us as individuals to broadly support the arts philanthropically in our state and region.

ArtPrize is one event that is designed to draw attention to and create engagement with art and artists during a couple of weeks every year, but the many arts institutions in Grand Rapids and Michigan in general will be absolutely critical in building on that engagement and attention throughout the rest of the year.  Educational programming, residency programs, shows and exhibits, and even generally networking the creative community are all incredibly vital to nurturing a creative culture that enriches our cities. 

Our cities must be attractive, challenging, and interesting for a whole generation coming of age and making decisions about where they want to live first, and what they want to do there second.  I would also argue that a culture which celebrates and supports creative risk-taking will be much better positioned from a business perspective in the coming years. Creativity, innovation, and agility will become more and more important.

I've been overwhelmed by how Grand Rapids has so aggressively taken up the task of ArtPrize. Although these are challenging times, we are supporting creativity and the arts philanthropically--with time and attention and planning as well as money.  Let's celebrate individuals and their creativity, and build a state-wide culture that embraces the creative risk taking from a powerful sculpture that inspires simply by looking at it to a new design for a water filter that provides clean water for people all over the world.