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Michigan town learns ArtPrize spin-offs aren't so easy to pull off



If you really, really love history – of if you really, really love Ludington – then having a 19-day event called "History Prize" in the Lake Michigan town of 8,000 sounded like a great idea.  

For less ardent fans, however, the concept of three weeks of exhibits, collections, and "living history" tours put on by historians competing for cash prizes may have been less than thrilling. 

Either way, it's not happening now. At least, not in Ludington.

History Prize Board of Directors chair Bill Anderson is disappointed. He's a historian, he lives in Ludington, and he was all about this. 

"I thought it was going to raise the profile of our community as a cultural destination in a magnificent way," he says. 

Last year, the Ludington Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau bid $30,000 to host the event, which is based on the success ArtPrize has had in Grand Rapids. 

But pulling the event off could take $1 million, according to Anderson. 

And they just couldn't get enough money from sponsors to ensure they could keep the event going past year one. 

"If we launched the first year and hit a home run, and then we pulled the plug on it? Oof!"

Anderson says they were also informed that Ludington wouldn't own the rights to History Prize. 

"And that puts us in a vulnerable position as the event could change or disappear without our control," he said in a statement. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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