Knight Foundation announces $23 million for arts in South Florida

The Knight Foundation extends Knight Arts Challenge and is giving another $23 million to the arts in South Florida, bringing the organization’s total to $86 million in six years. Now graduates of Design and Architecture Senior High, Simone Sullivan, lef

After five years of supporting artistic ventures dreamed up by everyone from indie filmmakers to museum directors and musicians, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is ready for more.

The Miami-based foundation is devoting a total of $23 million in new gifts for the arts in South Florida, including $14 million for seven institutions and $9 million to continue the popular Knight Arts Challenge for another three years.

“Miami is continuing to develop this cultural identity,” said Dennis Scholl, the foundation’s vice president of arts. “So much of that is coming from the grassroots organizations. And the community continues to get a sense of itself through culture — that felt like it was still going on and definitely something that was still vibrant, so we wanted to support that vibrancy.”

The news will be officially announced Monday night as the foundation names the most recent round of arts challenge winners, drawing from money pledged in 2008. The new $23 million gift brings the total gifts in Miami to $86 million in six years.

“The point of all of this, as I never tire of saying, is we want to make art general in Miami,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the foundation. “To do that, you want to support arts institutions that day in and day out offer opportunities for people in Miami to see and feel and participate and engage art... and then at the same time engaging anybody in Miami who has an idea.”

The new grant series will continue to solicit ideas that benefit the arts in South Florida and require winners to raise a matching amount.

Michael Spring, director of Miami-Dade’s Department of Cultural Affairs, said the initial challenge came at just the right time to sustain the growth of the arts when the economy took a nosedive in 2008. The Knight support, Spring said, was key for organizations and donors.

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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.