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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Knight Arts Challenge open for applications

Beginning this week, South Floridians can apply for the Knight Arts Challenge, which funds the best ideas for bringing the community together through the arts. The deadline for the challenge, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is Feb. 23.

Knight Foundation will host a kickoff party at Gramps in Wynwood (176 NW 24th Street) on Tuesday, January 27, from 6 to 8:30 pm, where applicants can meet other artists, past winners and Knight Foundation staff. In addition, as a way to recruit ideas from South Florida’s many neighborhoods, Knight Foundation will host a series of Community Q&A sessions. The events, taking place Feb. 2-5, will offer tips on creating a standout application, information on the challenge timeline and more. The schedule maybe be found at their website here:

For example, in the photo above, to bring literature to more Miamians, Bookleggers will expand its community mobile library, which provides books for free, for trade or by donation. The library currently holds events each month at venues such as public parks, art galleries, museums, bars and schools. With upwards of 300 people attending each Bookleggers event, the library has exchanged thousands of books with people across Miami-Dade County. Knight Foundation funding will help Bookleggers continue its community outreach, in addition to providing a free/low-cost used book market for Miami’s literary community.

Pioneer Winter / Pioneer Winter Collective won a 2014 Knight Arts Challenge grant - To provide opportunities for local choreographers, the Pioneer Winter Collective's Grass Stains project will commission site-specific works throughout Miami that are free and open to the public. The participating choreographers will choose from a set of curated, nontraditional locations that will heighten the level of site-specific work in Miami. Grass Stains will help these choreographers hone their skills in site-specific performance, as well as provide them with the opportunity to be mentored by noted Guggenheim Fellow and Bessie Award-winning choreographer and director Stephan Koplowitz. Grass Stains seeks to help professionals push the boundaries of their practice, make their work accessible to a wider audience, and create work that is socially and culturally relevant to their community.

“Whether you are an arts organization or a small collective, a longtime South Florida artist or someone who moved to town recently, we want to hear from you,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation. “Our goal is to make art general in South Florida. We do that through the challenge, and finding the best grassroots ideas for bringing our community together through the arts.” 

Anyone can apply. All it takes is 150 words to fill out the initial application, which will be available at and is deliberately designed to be simple to encourage nontraditional applicants.

There are only three rules for the challenge:
1) The idea must be about the arts.
2) The project must take place in or benefit South Florida
3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.

Knight has received more than 8,900 ideas from the South Florida community since launching the challenge in 2008. In total, 241 projects have received almost $25 million in funding.

Since 2006, Knight Foundation has invested more than $86 million in South Florida’s cultural community. Those funds have launched a new media program that includes the signature “Wallcasts” at the acclaimed New World Symphony campus, helped present Ibero-American films at the Miami International Film Festival, and are bringing every Miami-Dade third-grader to the new Pérez Art Museum Miami, among other projects.  The approach is two-pronged: Knight Foundation aims to open up institutions to more South Floridians with large grants, while the Arts Challenge ensures that smaller, grassroots efforts fuel and refresh the arts scene.

For updates, follow #knightarts on Twitter, @knightfdn on Instagram and Knight Foundation on Facebook.

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