September in Grand Rapids means the return of ArtPrize, which bills itself as a “radically open” art competition, juried by the general public, and awarding the largest cash prize for an art competition in the world – $250,000 for first place.

As the competition takes place in the hometown of the Acton Institute – in fact, many artists exhibited their work in our building last year, and will do so again this year – it’s hard for us to miss it. And frankly, the questions that have been raised about the impact of such a non-professional, wide-open art contest with such a large prize at stake on the art world (for example, does ArtPrize foster real art, or are artists simply pandering to the public to have a shot at the prize) are too intriguing to pass up.

This edition of Radio Free Acton tackles the question of how Christians should steward the arts. The participants, Professors Nathan Jacobs and Calvin Seerveld, previously debated this topic in the Controversy section of our Journal of Markets & Morality (Volume 12, Number 2 – you can read the first part of their debate at this link), and we thought it would be interesting to bring them together for a live exchange as well. Special thanks are due to David Michael Phelps, who agreed to sit in as the moderator of the program.

Here are a few other resources for those who may have an interest in exploring the topic:

  • An interview with last year’s ArtPrize winner, Ran Ortner. Key quote: “I think what we have to learn from deprivation is very limited.”
  • Critical Mass: The Wall Street Journal looks at how the art world is reacting to ArtPrize
  • Arti$ts and the Market: David W. Galenson discusses the taboos in the art world surrounding money and art

With all that being said, use the audio player below to listen to Part 1 of the podcast. Part 2 will follow later this week.