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Knight Arts Challenge seeks best ideas for the arts in Detroit

Mosaic Youth Theatre
Mosaic Youth Theatre - Doug Coombe
Beginning March 10, Detroiters will once again have an opportunity to win funding for their arts projects through the Knight Arts Challenge, offering a share of $3 million for arts and culture projects that engage and enrich the city. The deadline for the contest, now in its second year, is April 7. 

“The depth and diversity of ideas submitted last year thrilled us—and are a testament to the artists who are helping to push the city forward,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation. “We can’t wait to see what the community pitches us this year.”
The challenge is open to everyone—artists and artist collectives of all types, businesses, established arts institutions, and any individual who has a great idea for the arts. The application, which will be available at KnightArts.org, consists of just one question 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 Detroit.
3) Grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment (within a year).

“This contest is about ideas—innovative ideas, authentically Detroit ideas. Dream big and give us your best ideas for our community,” said Katy Locker, Detroit program director for Knight Foundation.

Knight Foundation representatives will answer questions about the challenge during five town hall meetings throughout the city in March. A full schedule is below.

Last year, Detroiters submitted more than 1,400 applicants—the largest number per capita in the contest’s three-city, six-year history. The 56 winners received $2.1 million in funding to help shape Detroit’s future through their arts projects.

First year winners included Mosaic Youth Theatre, which will  launch a program that integrates the arts into every element of elementary school curriculum; PuppetART Theater, which will challenge modern perceptions of puppetry by bringing together art groups for a mini-festival; and Maison LaFleur, an artist who will use the contemporary art movement Afrofuturism as a vehicle for social change. For a full list of winners from last year’s Knight Arts Challenge Detroit, visit Knight Foundation’s website.

The challenge is part of a $19.25 million investment in the Detroit arts that includes support for the three-year challenge, providing funding, exposure and momentum to smaller arts efforts, and $10.25 million to some of the city’s premiere cultural institutions: the Arab American National Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit School of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre and the Sphinx Organization. Below is the schedule of community Q&A sessions. All events begin at 6 p.m.:

Date: Monday, March 24
Location: Hamtramck Public Library
Address: 2360 Caniff St., Hamtramck
Co-host: HATCH Detroit
Southwest Detroit
Date: Tuesday, March 25
Location: 555 Gallery
Address: 2801 W. Vernor Highway, Detroit
Co-host: 555 Gallery and Southwest Solutions
Date: Wednesday, March 26
Location: The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Address: 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit
Co-host: The Charles H. Wright Museum and several partners, including Wayne State University
Date: Thursday, March 27
Location: The Virgil A. Carr Center
Address: 311 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit
Co-host: Arts League of Michigan
Date: Friday, March 28
Location: Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.
Address: 19800 Grand River Ave., Detroit
Co-hosts: Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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