GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Out of 174 venues at ArtPrize, 138 are handicap accessible. However, the 21% that’s not handicap accessible could have some of the top finalists in their buildings, and people with mobile disabilities won’t be able to catch a glimpse.
Wheels on Mike Magniant’s chair are the only way he can get around one of his favorite events.
“I think ArtPrize is a good thing, I thoroughly enjoy it,” Magniant said.
However, Magniant is frustrated and disappointed by venues only equipped with steps that make it impossible for him to view the pieces he wants to see. He’s been to all the venues he can go to, but the one work of art he was yearning to get a glimpse at, won’t be a possibility.
“There’s a work of art inside the Women’s City Club that I would really like to see, and I can’t get in there to see it. I grew up with the artist, and i would really like to see his work, but can’t do it,” he said.
Even families with young kids that cart them around by strollers like the Andersons had to skip a few venues.
“A lot of places don’t really accommodate for a stroller,” said Jeremy Anderson, father to two young children.
ArtPrize organizer, Amela Pegman, says it’s not a requirement for venues to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s not something we as an organization are regulating at this point in time. Just by the nature of the open platform and how we want to be welcoming to all the open spaces and different types of venues at ArtPrize,” said Pegman.
ArtPrize says they have a filter online, to see which venues are handicap accessible and which are not, and even have a new partnership to accommodate the handicap.
“We wanted to make ArtPrize more accessible for people who struggle with handicap disabilities,” said Russell Whitaker from Ascent Care.
Ascent Care offers rides to and from the Ford Museum, places for people to charge electric wheelchairs, and park, but that doesn’t change the fact that people like Magniant can’t physically get into the venues.
“They shouldn’t offer it to venues that aren’t handicap accessible. It’s just not fair to the handicap people or people with strollers and such, they can’t get in there,” said Magniant.
ArtPrize says they do encourage their venues to be ADA compliant, but ultimately they leave that in the hands of the venue itself.