by Ann Shepphird | December 03, 2015

I recently visited the city of Grand Rapids as it was hosting the 7th iteration of ArtPrize, an annual event that brings artists together with venues throughout the city and includes a competition voted on by both an expert jury and the public. Not only has the event grown in popularity each year and illustrated the power of art to bring a wide variety of people together and create discussion, but it was a great way to see the city (especially its downtown core) bustling as it would be with a large meeting or convention in town.

The venues used for ArtPrize ranged from the city’s museums to more unusual sites such as the lobby of the police department. Naturally, the city’s meeting venues were also used, including the main convention center, DeVos Place, and the historic Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. The Amway Grand Plaza, which offers 682 guest rooms and 47,000 square feet of meeting space, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016 and recently completed a $14 million renovation to its Glass Tower and added a new restaurant, The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck. The hotel is owned and operated by AHC+Hospitality, which also owns and operates the JW Marriott Grand Rapids and the Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown.

Other recent developments in Grand Rapids include the spectacular new Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, an expansion of the Founders Brewery taproom and the opening of the Downtown Market, all of which offer space for group events. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum has closed for an expansion and renovation project and is expected to reopen in mid-2016.