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

  • Arts

    Five years of Play On, Philly! and a celebration of music education with virtuoso Ray Chen

    May 4, 2016, 5:06 p.m., Posted by Chip Schwartz

    Violinist Ray Chen. Photo by Sophie Zhai.

    Play On, Philly! is in the midst of a pretty exciting milestone this year: 2016 represents the five-year anniversary of the group. Play On, Philly!, or POP as it is known, implements educational programs that teach intensive music lessons to children in underserved Philadelphia schools. With support from Knight Foundation, they have been able to spread the power of learning and the joy of music far and wide amongst Philadelphia students and their families.

    To mark the organization's fifth anniversary, some Curtis Institute of Music graduates have come back to spread the word about music education in Philly. Most notably, award-winning violinist Ray Chen has launched a campaign called Musical Heroes in order to celebrate the people and programs who bring the gift of music education to youth, with specific attention paid to former Curtis alumnus and founder Stanford Thompson. Chen has released a video, along with a Generosity campaign, in order to raise funds for POP–and also just to spread the good word about POP students and the difference music is making in their lives.

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    Photographer Michelle Andonian finds beauty in a brutal Armenian legacy

    May 4, 2016, 1:35 p.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    Above: A scene from Michelle Andonian's reading at Pages Bookshop. All photos by Rosie Sharp.

    Funded through the Knight Arts Challenge Detroit, “This Picture I Gift” is a book of exquisite photographs by Michelle Andonian, with images captured in her grandmother’s forfeited Armenian homeland. By way of introducing readings from the book, which took place at Pages Bookshop on Saturday, April 23—just one day before the 101th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide—Andonian acknowledged the inherent awkwardness in trying to talk about a book of images. Photographs, after all, are doing the work of telling stories all on their own; to add a layer of text is to compound the so-called 1,000 words each image is worth.

    However, words are sometimes necessary for context in dealing with a subject as dense and emotional as the fraught political history of Armenia. Andonian managed to get into the Sebastia region (now called Sivas), from which her grandmother was forced to emigrate in the wake of the targeting and mass execution of the Middle Eastern Christian minorities by Turkish armed forces, beginning in the spring of 1915.

    Michelle Andonian.

    Andonian has a gift for catching things before they slip away forever—including many iterations of Detroit’s dying industry—and back in 2014, with the impending 100-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide as a call to action, she felt compelled to attempt an image-gathering foray into Armenia. Fates aligned, opening a region that has been extremely unstable, due to a contemporary conflict between Turkish and Kurdish populations—the Kurds, who once abetted Turkey in the ethnic cleansing of Armenians, now find themselves on the receiving end of military aggression. Together with a close friend within the Armenian-American community, Andonian embarked on journey through Armenia, capturing images and visiting places that are unlikely to be open to travelers again within her lifetime.

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    Five insights for public media newsrooms in the digital age

    May 4, 2016, 1:34 p.m., Posted by Anusha Alikhan

    Above: Knight's John Bracken leads a panel on the role and responsibility of public media at the Media Learning Seminar.

    In 1967, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, he noted that Americans want more in life than to create new goods and new wealth.

    “We want most of all to enrich man’s spirit,” Johnson said.

    Johnson’s words in launching the Corporation for Public Broadcasting set the tone for a discussion on public media in today’s digital world at Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar.

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