The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Nov 28, 2011

Best ideas for the South Florida arts receive $2.9 million in funding

Posted by Robertson.Adams

Mentorship program for African-American playwrights, coral as a living art form, new dance company   among the winners of Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge

MIAMI, Nov. 28, 2011— Thirty-one ideas – many of them from small cultural groups helping to weave the arts into South Florida’s DNA – have been selected as 2011 winners of the Knight Arts Challenge.

Related Links

• 'Celebrating the best ideas' - Elizabeth Miller documents the event with Storify on KnightBlog.

• Flickr photo set by Patrick Farrell

'Knight Foundation announces 31 winners of Miami arts challenge grants' - Miami Herald article by Andres Viglucci

Video: Random Act of Culture West Side Story music performance

Video: Alberto Ibargüen on art in Miami

Video: Poem 'Books' by Campbell McGrath

The challenge, a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is a communitywide contest helping to transform South Florida through the arts.

In its fourth year, the challenge is investing $2.9 million in projects that will:

• Bring the arts into people’s everyday lives, through opera performances in unexpected places, pop-up sculptures on Miami Beach, concerts downtown and in Miami-Dade parks and artist-lead bus tours of Miami’s lesser known points of interest.

• Tell Miami’s unique story, by portraying coral as a living art form in public exhibits, expanding an artist-in-residence program in the Everglades and creating a mentorship program for African-American playwrights.

• Help develop a recognizable “Miami” style of dance by launching a new dance company and offering opportunities for local and international choreographers.

• Provide tomorrow’s artists and arts enthusiasts with enriching experiences – including a chance to meet one of Haiti’s most prominent artists, be mentored by an author of teen novels or participate in art institute classes.

• Bring more Hispanic masters to South Florida, through a theater festival and exhibits and performances at the Cuban Museum.

A full list of the winners is below.

“The Miami of today is not the Miami of ten, five or even two years ago. Much of that has to do with artists and supporters who are building a new Miami everyday and bringing us together through their work,” Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “Every day, Knight Arts Challenge winners add to that momentum, moving and inspiring us towards a better future.”

In just four years, Knight Foundation has invested close to $19 million in Arts Challenge projects – an amount that local arts supporters are doubling with matching funds. Big ideas that have already become a reality include the Borscht Film Festival, helping to forge a new cinematic identity for Miami, The LegalArt Residency, Miami’s only live/work residency for artists, Sleepless Night Miami Beach, where tens of thousands enjoyed 12 hours of nonstop culture, and a sound art gallery debuting this weekend on Lincoln Road.

“So many of the best ideas for the South Florida arts are coming from the ground up.  These are small, artist-driven groups who pour their creativity into this community and help bring South Florida together through the arts,” said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts.

In addition, Knight kicked off the challenge in 2008 by investing $20 million in endowment grants that fund a new-media program at the New World Symphony, field trips for 40,000 students a year to the Miami Art Museum when it opens its new building, and a series of exhibitions by emerging artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami.

The contest’s success inspired Knight Foundation to launch a national arts program, which invests in projects that enrich and engage eight communities across the United States. The cities include Detroit, San Jose and Philadelphia, which now has its own Knight Arts Challenge contest.

The Knight Arts Challenge, a matching grant program, will open again in early 2012 to accept the fifth round of applicants.

To find out more about Knight’s arts program, visit

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


Marc Fest, Vice President/Communications, 305-908-2677,

2011 Knight Arts Challenge Winners

Women Artists Celebrated in Art Books Series

  • Project: Miami Women Artists Books

  • Recipient: [NAME] Publications
  • Award: $20,000
To celebrate local women artists, [NAME] Publications will dedicate its Miami artists book series for one year exclusively to four women and their work. These original works are seen as a space where artists can further develop their ideas and projects, not just as a simple container of previous works. The designer books will be showcased in international collections and libraries and promoted at art book fairs, aiming to increase the understanding of Miami’s diverse cultural community, both locally and internationally.

Everglades’ Artist-in-Residence Program Expands

  • Project: Artists in Residence in Everglades
  • Recipient: Artists in Residence in Everglades
  • Award: $30,000
To help artists bring their passion for the Everglades to the public, the Artists in Residence in Everglades program will expand to include additional programming, a stipend and professional support. Because artists and art lovers are great ambassadors for the beauty of the park’s rare ecosystem, the program will help connect artists in the Everglades with Miami’s urban art scene, creating a bridge of artistic exploration connecting South Florida’s east and west coasts.

Building Arts Leaders and Bridging Leadership Gaps

  • Project: Arts Board Marketplace
  • Recipient: Arts & Business Council of Miami
  • Award: $30,000
To increase the number and diversity of board candidates accessible to arts organizations, the Arts & Business Council of Miami will create a program to match business and community participants with available board positions at Miami arts groups. The council will develop and launch an innovative website and online platform, train arts executives about board recruitment and management, and provide leadership seminars for business professionals. The project aims to build new leaders for the cultural community, as well as new audiences and income sources.

Artist-Led Bus Tours Explore Miami’s “Weird” Side

  • Project: Weird Miami Bus Tours
  • Recipient: Bas Fisher Invitational
  • Award: $100,000
Bas Fisher Invitational will offer a behind the scenes look at the city and its artistic offerings by expanding the popular, artist-led Weird Miami bus tours, which introduce locals, as well as tourists, to lesser-known places and cultural projects. Bas Fisher will invite artists to create tours and exhibitions that reflect their relationship with the city. The project also will create an interactive, online presence to enhance the experience.

Temporary Public Art Pops Up Around Miami Beach

  • Project: TC: Temporary Contemporary, a temporary public art projects program.
  • Recipient: Bass Museum of Art
  • Award: $80,000
The TC: Temporary Contemporary project will surprise and engage the public by populating the city center area of Miami Beach with temporary public art projects that include sculpture, murals, sound installation and video. The Bass Museum will select more than a dozen artists over two years to create public art that will be installed throughout the project period. The effort aims to strengthen the city’s arts district by bringing public spaces alive through the wonder of art.

Long-Standing Local Artists Get New Spotlight on Their Work

  • Project: Bridge Red Studios Project Space
  • Recipient: Bridge Red Studios
  • Award: $15,000
Bridge Red Studios Project Space will give new exposure to long-standing artists by providing a space to exhibit their works and ideas. While the arts community continues to grow and expand in South Florida, the community will benefit from a space dedicated to mid- to late-career artists. Bridge Red Studios Project Space will be a venue to showcase these visual artists of significant accomplishment, as a way to help them foster connections with new audiences.

Ceramic Enthusiasts Get New Tools

  • Project: CLM Center for Ceramics
  • Recipient: Ceramic League of Miami
  • Award: $25,000
The Ceramic League of Miami will further strengthen the ceramic arts in South Florida by providing artists and potters working in clay with access to kilns and studio facilities at its South Dade location. The league will equip the center with a custom-built soda kiln and host a series of workshops, lectures and classes to introduce the project. The project aims to introduce students and young artists to the possibilities of working with clay and raise public awareness about the broad appeal and varied styles of the ceramic arts.

Workshops Teach the Craft of Traditional Haitian Art

  • Project: The Haitian Heritage Art Project
  • Recipient: City of Miami Little Haiti Cultural Center
  • Award: $75,000
The Little Haiti Cultural Center will support traditional Haitian arts by conducting workshops in papier-mâché, textiles and other disciplines, then host a community festival to highlight them. Project organizers will recruit residents for courses in Haitian fine arts and crafts, including monthly weekend workshops where Haitian guest artists will conduct classes and discuss the creative process. The project will culminate with a Haitian Heritage Art Fest featuring the new artwork of project participants, as well as a street parade with traditional Haitian attire, masks, Kompas music and Haitian cuisine.

Training, Mentorship for Playwrights

  • Project: CityWrights Miami - A Professional Weekend for Playwrights
  • Recipient: City Theatre
  • Award: $75,000
City Theatre will cultivate South Florida playwrights by hosting an annual conference that brings together local writers with national playwrights, artistic directors and industry leaders. CityWrights will go to the heart of a playwright's craft, offering master classes, workshops and mentorships in artistic and professional development. The process will be open to all through public readings with local actors and directors, giving audiences a role in the process from page to stage and promoting the theater as a center for fresh, new works.

Multimedia Coral Reefs at MIA Build Excitement for new Miami Science Museum

  • Project: Aqua/Cultural Transformation: The New Miami Science Museum
  • Recipient: Coral Morphologic
  • Award: $150,000
Coral Morphologic has teamed with the Miami Science Museum to build excitement for its arrival downtowns at Museum Park by collaborating on a multimedia art-science project at Miami International Airport. This public project will promote the world-class aquarium exhibits that will be central to the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, to be completed at the end of 2014. High-definition screens will be installed in airport terminals and waiting areas to portray fluorescent corals as living art forms and icons of the city. These installations will engage, relax and entrance travelers of all ages, while reinforcing Miami’s position as a gateway to the coral reefs of the Caribbean. Additionally, coral aquascapes also will be shown on the New World Symphony’s 1,700 square foot outdoor projection wall during a night of underwater film.

Cuban Masters in Exile Bring Works to Miami

  • Project: Sweet Home Museo Cubano
  • Recipient: Cuban Museum
  • Award: $100,000
The Cuban Museum will bring the work of distinguished Cuban artists in exile to South Florida through a series of exhibitions and performances at the Cuban Museum. The one-year series will feature performances by Cuban exile pianists, singers, a saxophonist and filmmaker-playwright, among other artists of various disciplines. Sweet Home hopes the exhibits will attract new visitors, increase interest in Cuban-American art, and make the museum a home away from home for Cuban artists in exile.

Contemporary Art Space Engages Community with Experimental Work

  • Project: Dimensions Variable: Experimental Projects
  • Recipient: Dimensions Variable/Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova
  • Award: $40,000
Dimensions Variable will present experimental works in South Florida through exhibitions at an independent space featuring site-specific works by national and international artists. Artists will be invited from near and far to create the unique works; they hope to engage audiences through lectures and discussions that broaden Miami’s engagement in an international contemporary art dialogue.

Opera Draws New Audiences with Performances in Unexpected Places

  • Project: Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places
  • Recipient: Florida Grand Opera
  • Award: $240,000
Florida Grand Opera will bring opera to new audiences by presenting new or updated operas in a unique, intimate space once a year. This project aims to attract younger audiences to bold and modern productions in nontraditional venues. The opera company will find new production spaces and create a custom marketing strategy, following up with new patrons and establishing a model that can be replicated by other opera and performing arts groups.

Winter Shakespeare Festival Brings Together Royal Shakespeare Company and GableStage with Acclaimed Local Playwright

  • Project: Winter Shakespeare Festival – New Audience, Old Master, Outdoors and Free
  • Recipient: GableStage
  • Award: $120,000
GableStage will introduce a new audience to an old master by launching a Winter Shakespeare Festival, in collaboration with acclaimed playwright and Miami native Tarell Alvin McCraney and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The festival will stage new productions of Shakespeare’s plays, adapted and led by McCraney, an international playwright in residence at the company. Admission will be free to the public and the performances presented outdoors in Coconut Grove and in downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park. GableStage will also organize educational activities and bring performances to Miami-Dade Public Schools, especially those in low-income neighborhoods.

New Residency Program Cultivates Performing Artists

  • Project: Inkub8 Residency Program
  • Recipient: Inkub8
  • Award: $50,000
Inkub8, an experimental, hybrid performance space in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, will expand its offerings and cultivate more local performing artists by creating a residency program. The effort will offer space for a month and a modest stipend in exchange for artists teaching classes and exhibiting works. The final event, a performance with all the resident artists, will further nurture community building, expand the definition of performance and explore new mediums that incorporate movement, dance, theater, sound art and other emerging hybrid forms.

Local Performing Artists Receive Professional Development Training

  • Project: MDC Live! at Miami Dade College
  • Recipient: Miami Dade College
  • Award: $40,000
Miami often lacks professional development programs for active performing artists who want continuing educational opportunities without having to enroll in a degree program. Popular in many universities worldwide, summer intensives that feature master artists address a need for professionals seeking advanced-level, world-class training at home. Miami Dade College’s MDC Live! series proposes to expand its educational component to create more in-depth intensives and long-term learning opportunities for performing artists.

Exhibit Sparks Dialogue About a 20th Century Art Movement

  • Project: CoBrA—Multidisciplinary Response to International Collaboration
  • Recipient: Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale
  • Award: $300,000
The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale will enhance local knowledge and dialogue concerning the CoBrA art movement, formed in the aftermath of World War II, through an international partnership that includes artistic residencies and a major exhibition from the museum’s collection. The movement, named for artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, rejected traditional Western culture and embraced rich colors and intriguing, spontaneous-feeling designs. The museum will develop an interactive CoBrA website, produce three exhibitions on the movement’s art forms and cultural connections and host a range of artistic competitions and workshops. The project aims to ignite dialogue, strengthen awareness of the museum’s CoBrA collection and reveal the movement’s impact on contemporary artists.

Dance Lessons Help Develop Creativity in Special-Needs Students

  • Project: Inclusive Dance – Benefits for All – Expanding the Boundaries
  • Recipient: Karen Peterson and Dancers
  • Award: $10,000
Karen Peterson and Dancers will provide dance instruction to 450 middle and senior high students with special needs, helping them develop creativity, teamwork and strong self-esteem. Teachers will meet once a week for 15 weeks with each classroom of 20 to 25 students to research movement toward performance. A five- to seven-minute dance will be created for students at each participating school, and the project will end with a gala dance concert. The training aims to help students learn self-expression and self-confidence while using movement for fun.

Festival Celebrates Overtown’s Rich Artistic Heritage

  • Project: Overtown Rhythm and Arts Festival
  • Recipient: Overtown Rhythm and Arts Festival
  • Award: $50,000
The Overtown Rhythm and Arts Festival will celebrate the musical and artistic heritage of Overtown with an annual street festival that draws top acts. Organizers, originally part of a Leadership Miami team, will set up workshops to organize fund raising, marketing and community partnerships. The resulting annual festival of music, art, food and local vendors will draw increasing numbers of diverse audiences, higher-profile acts and sponsors.

Future of Ballet Supported Through New Works Fund

  • Project: Miami City Ballet’s New Works Fund
  • Recipient: Miami City Ballet
  • Award: $300,000
Miami City Ballet will broaden its programming and support the future of ballet by establishing a fund for the creation of new works. The New Works Fund will explore the next generation of choreographic legends by premiering new works this season by Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and British choreographer Liam Scarlett. The project aims to excite audiences and infuse dance with new energy, while placing Miami City Ballet and South Florida at the cutting edge of the international ballet scene.

Downtown Miami to Get Free Concerts – Year-Round

  • Project: Downtown Miami Concert Series – Summer Shows at the Gusman
  • Recipient: Miami Downtown Development Authority
  • Award: $100,000
The Miami Downtown Development Authority will help strengthen a sense of community in the urban core by making the outdoor, winter Downtown Miami Concert Series year-round, with summer shows at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. The expanded concert series, which will feature four genres of music, aims to introduce new generations to the Gusman, increase foot traffic in the downtown area and spur commerce while promoting Flagler Street as a neighborhood where new businesses and rich history come together.

Popular Local Opera Series Expands

  • Project: Classical Opera Staging for Young Talents
  • Recipient: Miami Lyric Opera
  • Award: $40,000
Miami Lyric Opera will strengthen local opera by providing a larger venue and additional performances for the company’s popular subscription series. The project will include expanding the orchestra and enlarging the audience potential to 5,500-6,000 (from a current audience of less than 3,000). The projected results: production enhancement, greater exposure for young singers, more professional productions and a wider diffusion of lyric opera across the community.

Free Music and Dance Concerts Expand in Local Parks

  • Project: Noches Tropicales/Tropical Nights
  • Recipient: Miami-Dade Parks
  • Award: $100,000
Miami-Dade Parks will highlight America’s rich music history by expanding the successful Noches Tropicales to include Tropical Nights, featuring Latin, jazz, blues, folk and other contemporary music. The project aims to extend the park system’s arts programming and encourage community engagement with the arts.

A Mentor for Teen Writers

  • Project: Writer-in-Residence: Young Adult Fiction
  • Recipient: Miami-Dade Public Library System
  • Award: $20,000
The Miami-Dade Public Library System will encourage creative writing among teens by creating a writer-in-residence program for an author of teen novels. While typical the writer-in-residence program focuses on the writer, this program centers on teens, inspiring them to express themselves through their writings. The library will select one resident author who will mentor 20 students in creative writing. Teens will share their works aloud at a culminating event. The resident author will also create a pamphlet of creative writing tips and conduct several workshops open to library users across the county about the different components of writing, both as a creative outlet and as a possible career path.

New Wing at MOCA – Where Kids Learn to Love Art

  • Project: MOCA Art Institute at the Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Recipient: Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami
  • Award: $300,000
The Museum of Contemporary Art will inspire teens to become lifelong learners and lovers of art by creating an institute to provide free year-round programs in art history, museum studies, studio art, design, creative writing and more. The MOCA Art Institute will offer enriching experiences for thousands of students through an array of comprehensive educational programs in art and communications that use engaging curriculum and a dynamic museum environment to build skills, develop aesthetic analysis and promote creativity through exposure, experience and interdisciplinary discussion. Instruction includes an after-school program for teens, summer journalism and photojournalism courses for inner-city youth and the teen-produced MOCAZINE, an arts and literary journal.

New Dance Company Helps Develop Next Generation of Performers

  • Project: Peter London Global Dance Theater
  • Recipient: Peter London Global Dance Theater
  • Award: $120,000
The Peter London Global Dance Theater will launch in South Florida to support and develop the talents of exceptional local dancers and choreographers who have historically had limited access to local, professional performance opportunities. To help develop talent, the company will conduct master classes and summer workshops, perform many local shows pro bono, and establish collaborations among painters, composers, actors and singers to create innovative performances. A repertoire of thought-provoking choreography that reflects South Florida’s multiculturalism will also be created. The goal is to build a world-class contemporary dance company with solid finances and management that benefits the community through its artistry.

Local Record Label Promotes Engagement Through Experimental Music

  • Project: Worthy Spectacles and Obsolete Mediums
  • Recipient: Roofless Records
  • Award: $20,000
This project will support and develop Miami’s experimental music scene by expanding the local label Roofless Records. The label currently hosts live events and releases limited editions of local artists’ works. Roofless is dedicated to the concept of a label release as an art object – maintaining a free-form aesthetic and ethos with regard to the design, development and production process. With Knight funding, Roofless will be able to launch seasonal catalogs and a publishing house, and continue to curate it signature events.

Latino Theater Greats to Participate in International Hispanic Theatre Festival

  • Project: Miami: Hispanic Cultural Capital of the U.S.
  • Recipient: Teatro Avante
  • Award: $150,000
Teatro Avante will bring a greater representation of Latino/Hispanic theater, playwrights, directors and artists from throughout the world to the Miami-based International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami. This project will create an online, bilingual platform to establish Miami as the nation’s center for Latino/Hispanic performing arts and to collect information and promote dialogue about the richness and diversity of Latino artists’ work. Teatro Avante will create an educational program featuring scholars and researchers, as well as exhibits, and present an annual national conference on Latino theater in the United States.

Mentors for African-American Playwrights

  • Project: New Play Series
  • Recipient: The M Ensemble Company
  • Award: $25,000
The M Ensemble Company will cultivate African-American playwrights by creating a mentorship program to assist in developing scripts for a new play series. The company will hold a bimonthly play-writing workshop geared toward beginners at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. A quarterly seminar for new and established playwrights will examine the challenges, rewards and opportunities of writing plays for black theater companies. Early-career playwrights will attend an intensive workshop and work closely with a mentor to develop a specific work. The project is designed to develop and sustain audiences for theater and play reading, and to expand and enrich playwrights in a supportive and dynamic atmosphere. The project will culminate in a two-day public reading of selected plays.

New Dance Thinking in Miami

  • Project: “Is Paris Burning?”
  • Recipient: Tigertail Productions
  • Award: $75,000
Tigertail Productions will foster new thinking in dance with “Is Paris Burning?” a series of guest artist encounters, artist-curated events and site-specific performances that examine and reinvigorate traditional choreography. Tigertail will select a Miami-based artist to conceive a program for stage. National dance leaders and choreographers will lead exchanges and discussions on what is happening in the field. The project will bring to Miami choreographers for informal encounters with area choreographers. “Is Paris Burning?” seeks to create new opportunities for Miami choreographers and establish Miami as a place where a new movement and style of dance is taking place.

Spirit of Haiti’s Art Lives in New Exhibit and Workshops

  • Project: Edouard Duval Carrie – The Spirit of Haiti
  • Recipient: Young at Art Museum
  • Award: $100,000
Young at Art Museum will engage the community in Haiti’s rich artistic traditions through an installation by artist Edouard Duval Carrie, accompanied by family workshops and art-making activities. The museum will collaborate with Carrie and commission the firm Architecture Is Fun to design and develop an installation called The Spirit of Haiti. The museum will develop art activities for the installation, provide free field trips to low-income children and develop family workshops to serve a projected 2,500 people annually. Plans also include producing a four-part Haitian perspectives artist series, based on Haitian culture.

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