Let’s keep it real: we don’t actually have relationships with each other. But when the personal is political, it’s actually about using trust-based relationships to connect to people, to move them. You have to have trust-based relationships in order to do the kind of work, that I’m talking about: to call people into common struggle. To have that be the basis for accountability. So you gotta shift. It’s not enough to mobilize, but remain disconnected. You know? We got to build lasting, trust-based connections with people. And that requires skill. That requires vulnerability. That requires storytelling.


-R.L. Stephens, Chicago, IL (USA) organizer and A. Philip Randolph Fellow

ArtPeers partnered with Natural Hair GR and Wealthy Theatre to create “I Rock My Own”


DITA & ArtPeers “Angle of Repose” exhibit, Top 5 Short List (Time-Based) ArtPrize 2013 (with a winning entry in next year’s festival.)


ArtPeers artistic director Erin Wilson was invited in 2016 as the only non-Detroit artist to participate in the pilot launch of a program to cast, create and exhibit an original dance on film work within 24 hours, called “24fps”



Site-Responsive Experience Design

(ArtPeers SRXD)



ArtPeers (501c3)

EIN: 27-0677958



Grand Rapids, MI (USA)



Erin Wilson, E.D.

+1 (616) 540-6610

[email protected]



Q1 2018 – Q4 2019



$163,000 raised to date



Project Budget


Grant Experience



Impact Categories

ArtPeers Financials

About ArtPeers


Access additional materials here:


Password: 2018









ArtPeers is seeking funding at a moment when society is deeply divided, to expand on a proven track record of designing original experiences that bring about authentic human interactions within groups of peers, and across societal divides such as race, language, gender and socioeconomic status.


And at a time when existing innovation is necessary for society’s efforts to advance inclusion, ArtPeers represents a model of innovation that puts diversity into practice, putting people in the same room who might not otherwise interact.


Led by artistic director Erin Wilson, ArtPeers has demonstrated a unique ability to engage non-traditional art audiences, while gaining critical acclaim in the art world, creating long lasting conversations around live events and widely shared time-based media.


ArtPeers Site-Responsive Experience Design (SRXD) project is a critical opportunity to rebuild connections in society, with a pilot launch in a Midwest United States region, in a metro area that will provide a thorough test of methodologies. ArtPeers artists have designed numerous experiences and programs to engage human interaction and conversation with an eye toward healing societal divides.


In the quiet phase of fundraising, ArtPeers has raised $163,000 ($82,500 annual for the first two-year cycle of the SRXD project.


Funding is requested in the amount of 15 percent or $50,000 committed annually for a two-year cycle (totaling $100,000.)

“Etch” – dance on film piece, live scored by a symphony musician (onset during filming.) The work debuted at the first DisArt Festival, but only after transformative dialog between collaborators, about whether the festival was the best way for patrons to experience it.  


From 2016-2017, ArtPeers has partnered in support of “Cultura Collectiva” artists, who exhibit work that is representative of the black and Hispanic populations of the Roosevelt Park neighborhood. Both years, Cultura has won multiple awards that have empowered its artists collectively and individually.



Advocates and supporters of ArtPeers believe in our mission and they have offered to talk directly about their support for the ArtPeers SRXD project:

Wege Foundation CEO Mark Van Putten

[email protected]

(616) 957-0480

City of Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss

[email protected]

(616) 456-3168


Well House Exec. Director Tami VandenBerg

[email protected]

(616) 245-3910


Downtown GR Inc. CEO Kristopher Larson

[email protected]

(616) 719-4601


“Diversity and inclusion will ensure that different perspectives are heard and taken seriously. The danger is that we fall into narrow universes and talk only to people who agree with us. I have many students who think culture is something that they just walk into and are not involved in changing.”


-R. May Lee, Dean of the School of Entrepreneurship and Management at ShanghaiTech

Image from “Stand” project, created in response to developments around a specific location.




A growing divide between Americans is increasingly impairing our ability to function as a society. Late 2017 opinion polls indicate nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population feels we’re more divided than at any time since the Civil War. This divide represents a growing tension in society, that has an ability to intensify itself, by producing outcomes that in turn produce more (tension in society.) It forms a pernicious cycle, as interactions become more difficult, especially between different people, places and perspectives. We interact less, leaving us less equipped to interact at all. We have fewer opportunities to form context for one another, so we form misunderstandings, and our interactions become damaging. All of which produces more tension in society.


Image of ArtPeers Board member Monroe O’Bryant hosting an exhibition of his work from the “Fearless Brother” collection: this installation took place at a neighborhood boxing gym that O’Bryant used to invite the community to experience and ask questions about his newly debuted work.

Over the next decade, the United States will continue growing more diverse, most rapidly in parts of the country that are currently the least diverse. And, despite substantial efforts from all sectors, inclusion hasn’t kept pace with diversity. As our ability to interface weakens, it becomes easier not to: experiences we once shared in “commons” spaces are available on demand, in our living room.


When we interact with ideas instead of people, we become vulnerable to influence by forces that can identify emerging situations that show potential to become highly charged. Investigative reporting in 2017 has revealed instances where outside influencers created shareable media, in real time, designed to exacerbate tensions. The multimedia assets (e.g. memes) were custom designed and disseminated to each “side” of developing situations, like cannon fodder, which created more tension in society.


Not that Americans needed much of a push: the runaway cycle of societal tension is made from very old cloth. Protesters are marching in support of a more narrow shared identity, that would exclude people and perspectives with whom the protesters have limited authentic interactions. It’s deja vu all over again.




ArtPeers Site-Responsive Experience Design (SRXD) proposal presents an opportunity to interrupt this cycle, and moreover, to serve as a model to empower other regions to utilize what is good and true about their own people, places and perspectives, to defend against divisive influences and tendencies.


ArtPeers SRXD is a model for innovation that applies diversity activated by inclusion. While the outcomes are not one-size fits all, the process can be emulated anywhere, to create a more agile interface across communities and cultures.


“Governments by nature are not designed to be agile. It’s very difficult to keep up with the scope and speed of change. To be responsive, a government can wield its considerable convening power to harness inclusion and diversity to produce innovative approaches to problems. Innovation boils down to one key element – people. Diversity is so critical. You can have all the ideas and tactics but, if you don’t change the culture, you won’t succeed.”


-Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation

Science and Economic Development of Canada


ARTPEERS: Site-Responsive Experience Design

ArtPeers impacts culture because the means and its ends as the sand diverse collaborations and trust based relationships are inherent in the way the work is created and experienced. Work by ArtPeers helps to contextualize our city’s people, places and perspectives, as these elements are involved from start to finish. The degree to which the process of creating work includes diverse collaborators is evidenced by the almost effortless authenticity in its time-based renderings.


ArtPeers infused a live dance-on-film project into a street event on Lagrave Avenue, an environment that included a live hip-hop DJ dozens of skateboarders, and the public.



ArtPeers empowers artists through a collective “ecology” of combined strengths and cultural competency, and by putting people “in the same room” who might not otherwise connect, from start to finish. As we know, connecting across communities creates context, and that’s what makes work by ArtPeers special: its time-based renderings exemplify context, serving as portals for greater understanding about otherwise unfamiliar people, places and perspectives. Because ArtPeers artists are embedded in multicultural neighborhoods, there tends to be less insecurity around other cultures, resulting in renderings that depict contextualize diversity as normal, rather than isolating minorities as exotic, anthropological specimens.

“As In Life,” dance film made on a moving 40’ city bus, in partnership with Rapid Transit and DITA with music scored by local musicians


ArtPeers presents value as a model of innovation that puts diversity into practice. By creating outcomes that are interesting and relevant, populations engage with the work, thereby gaining context for each other. ArtPeers is a model of inclusion because its process is not diversity for diversity’s sake: the work embodies a competitive advantage that occurs when innovation is activated by real inclusion. A “collision chamber for ideas” results when people of diverse backgrounds have a mutual sense of belonging.

Future industrial advances will require innovation activated by inclusion, where we compete to increase quality of life, instead of competing against each other and increasing tension in society.


An inescapably inclusive process results in work that is accessible by a wide range of people. ArtPeers has a unique and proven capacity to propagate a cultural identity that allows everyone to see representations of themselves, as a part of the greater community. This is the essential American bond: we are the same for all the ways that we are different. Advancing a shared identity that has space for all of us, while preserving the vital qualities that makes us different, makes it less appealing to see ourselves separately. This is how ArtPeers SRXD can strengthen our connections across communities and cultures, providing context through engaging experiences and shareable media, which has the collateral benefit of context, making us more able to interact successfully with others.


An overflowing playbook of project ideas has been created for the ArtPeers SRXD project. Often the first idea exists to prompt the fifth revision by someone else. But some projects cannot be planned in advance. The project has a structure that can respond nimbly to circumstances that emerge suddenly and ArtPeers artists have the maturity to do so wisely. Timely engagement will add to overall impact. ArtPeers artists have the capacity to discover universal qualities that exist within hyper specific circumstances, giving work wider accessibility and indefinite relevance.  

ArtPeers & DITA won the $20,000 ArtPrize Time-Based Juried Award in 2014, for an original piece created in a long-dilapidated building most recently occupied by squatters.

ArtPeers artistic director Erin Wilson, in his previous role as director of Wealthy Theatre, often employed unconventional strategies designed to create impact in other areas.

The first cycle focuses heavily on creating and sharing a sustained frequency of work that has an impact in producing  ongoing, authentic human interactions. Transitioning to the second cycle, ArtPeers will come to focus on empowering local and regional groups to utilize ArtPeers content, to create their own conversations, while also making efforts to expand national visibility for the ArtPeers SRXD methodologies. By creating greater more awareness of the work and its capacity to create interactions, as an “open source” example that others can emulate to create more agile interfaces on their own.



The ArtPeers SRXD Budget includes specific projections for quantities per category of work, that will be innovated along the way, based on input that reveals which work is having greatest impact. In a given month, the work will take the form of “minors and majors,” with multiple lower-intensity projects produced and shared weekly, while several medium- to large-scale projects are being developed. Live events produce shareable renderings (film/photo) that create further discussions. Time-based media debuts lead to live experiences designed to create unforgettable interactions. The project will begin with several major premieres of our best work. The entire ArtPeers catalog will become available to community members to use to create their own conversations.



Quantity: 6-12 individual pieces

Work that begins with film/photo ends up as a tool for shared interactions through debuts (live, shared experiences developed around the work.) From there, time-based work is a tool to engage dialog online, generating more interactions, and feedback. Work is submitted to festivals to gain wider visibility for SRXD.



Quantity: 18-36 live engagements

Projects that begin as live shared experiences produce secondary and tertiary layers of impact through film/photo renderings that are generated. This category can include debuts of time-based work and partnered efforts that empower other entities and organizations.



Quantity: 48-96 series and/or images

Combined internal and external explorations of places and people, through still imagery



Quantity: 3-6 (depending on scale)

Assistive partnerships with aligned projects, NPOs, with limited budgets for project’s



Quantity: 72-120 strategic shares

Comprehensive, Ongoing, tactical sharing of deliverables, far and wide, virtual and actual.



Quantity: 144+ depictions / documentation

ArtPeers’ entire catalog will become part of SRXD resources available for use by others


ArtPeers will provide reporting in whatever format is preferred by respective grantors. At the same time, accountability mechanisms will be part of the innovative approach that ArtPeers applies to the entire spectrum of its work throughout the SRXD project. The goal with innovating accountability is to provide grantors with more dynamic tools that can decrease the latency of of input and insight grantors can provide to the grantee. A more fluid, co-creative relationship can benefit the project on so many levels, as most grantors have experience with every imaginable idea.

ArtPeers artistic director Erin Wilson with CNN/ESPN commentator LZ Granderson, after wrapping a time-based media project.


Artpeers artistic director Erin Wilson, in his role as director of Wealthy Theatre, successfully executed three major capital campaigns, with a uniquely direct relationship with multiple heads of foundations: at critical moments, foundation leaders provided insight and advice in ways that proved pivotal to the success of the experiment of Wealthy Theatre, as one of the state’s great comeback stories and an increasingly useful gathering space for the immediate neighborhood. Access to real time reporting information, made easily navigable by contracted partners, could allow foundation leaders to provide feedback without the latency of annual reviews. ArtPeers could gain access to this advice when it mattered, as the SRXD project will be adapted at regular intervals (quarterly) in order to focus on what feedback shows to be the most impactful work.

ArtPeers collaborated with Latina business owner and single mother Carolina Pava in the co-creation of “What It Was, Was,” filmed in a partially-razed warehouse district that was completely demolished the next day, and no longer exists. This time-based media, like many ArtPeers projects, serves as a high-def archive of this location in pre-demo phase.

All that being said, standard reporting mechanisms will be prepared at such intervals and in such formats as is desired by respective grantors, hopefully including a regular schedule for face-to-face reviews where ArtPeers artistic director Erin Wilson can meet with the supporters and discuss the outcomes – past, present and future – in order to gain insight from the grantor about strategies and shortcomings. Grantors will have the option to receive a concise roundup of shareable assets, highlights of in-progress projects, details about diverse partnerships, and more. Any or all of which assets can be easily shared by grantors with constituents, to demonstrate activity that is accomplishing the missions of the respective foundations.


Easily access additional materials here: artpeers.org/srxd (password: 2018)