Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ArtPrize 2013 Voting Stalls Below Half a Million Votes. So if Voting isn't the Driver of the ArtPrize Machine, What is the Driver? Can We Make ArtPrize a Better Game?

It might look as if I am playing arm chair business analyst. I would love to perform real analytics upon ArtPrize's databases. I'm open to an invitation, and maybe we can turn ArtPrize development into an open source project. Whatever it takes to break ArtPrize out of its current malaise. When it comes to voting, could ArtPrize 2013 post pretty much the same year as ArtPrize 2010, three festivals ago?

First, I like the idea of calling ArtPrize a machine because the founding leaders of ArtPrize have talked about understanding their machine. Let's begin our analysis with a compliment. ArtPrize has evolved by distributing the opportunity to support ArtPrize to a society of friends and to a consortium of sponsoring businesses, such as Meijers, Grand Valley State University and even Founders Brewing Company. I can drink to that! I read that most of the three million dollar budget comes from the consortium, rather than charitable foundations of the DeVos - Van Andel families. That is to be praised.

Voting is a definitive activity that describes ArtPrize. Most of the value of ArtPrize is distributed among artists by the vote, the half-million dollars in prizes and words, give or take ten grand. It is a primary tool of participation offered to visitors. It is the driver, just as I often think my driver as a writer is word count. If voting is the driver, voting hasn't grown vigorously over five years. The number of voters hasn't grown vigorously over the past five years either. The distribution of votes over the ArtPrize landscape hasn't spread out beyond the cultural district last five years if the locations of the Top 10 and top 25 might suggest. Could we pump up voting in some way so as to make voter enrollment and vote count double next year or go off the charts with exponential growth? Don't hate the players. Hate the game.

Could this mean that the vote doesn't really mean as much as it should for a good game? So how do we make it a better game?

The leading families of ArtPrize are venture capitalists. The VC types know, thanks to teachings by Peter Thiel, that explosive growth is the only growth that really wins when interested in the zeitgeist.

I'm thinking voting could become a way of owning a fraction of a work of art. In other words, if I were a voter, I would load up my ArtPrize Android app with two hundred dollars or so and distribute those dollars over the works of art I would like to take home. I might have two hundred dollars pop into my account for just showing up, thanks to sponsors interested in my demographic. I might earn votes by buying growlers of Founders Beer, which supports the art of painting as well as the art of craft brewing.

These become dollars that the artist really gets to take home, based upon certain criteria, such as meeting an auction minimum. Of course, we would need some kind of exchange to swap ten votes for Time Before Kindle by Dennis VanCleve with twenty votes of Tulip Fields by Karen Mincarelli. Yes, stock market speculation might arise, but that might grow into a hot sport to watch in 2014. We would have to know the real time values in votes of each work of art to make this market place work, a drawback of the current ArtPrize database engine.

Imagine a family setting out with a thousand dollars in votes between three generations to pick out their annual art purchase during ArtPrize 2014, and even taking the artist to dinner to learn more about the work of art?

Collectors know the pull of art after one has a first taste of collecting. When one takes home ones first item of real art, the love of art becomes a very sharp motivation to go see more art. People start making art just for the sake of being able to buy more art by money or swap.

Visits to downtown Grand Rapids to see the art are great for downtown businesses. However, and it is a success of ArtPrize, the buzz of the competition amongst people who can experience only by the web is very real. A dollar voted in Turkey is worth as much as a dollar voted from the Amway Grand. So bust down the geographical wall and watch the voting go nuts. Enfranchise the web audience. Only the art has to be in place in Grand Rapids for this game to work.

Let's reboot the reboot.

A time before Kindle by Dennis VanCleve
Tulip Fields by Karen Mincarelli
The statistics I consulted came from Wikipedia, a beautiful example of world-wide crowd sourcing

ArtPrize 2013
44,000 voters?
434,854 votes placed as of 3:16 on 10/1/2013
Top Ten Voting will slow the pace of voting if it is correct that voters get one and only one vote to use.

ArtPrize 2012
47,160 voters
412,560 votes placed
ArtPrize 2011
38,811 activated voters
383,106 votes placed
ArtPrize 2010
44,912 activated voters
465,538 votes placed --- This is counter to an assertion in a recent MLive article.

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