By Ben Crandell
When the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation made a pitch to South Florida arts organizations this year seeking applications for the $23 million in grants it handed out in Miami Monday night, Arts Garage executive director Alyona Ushe knew the odds were against her scrappy young Delray Beach culture space.
“I got a press release from the foundation talking about wanting to ‘enhance the arts in the Greater Miami area,’ and I said, ‘Hey, wait a minute! We’re out here, too!’” Ushe said, laughing, on Monday afternoon.
A few hours later, the 18-month-old Arts Garage hit the jackpot: At a ceremony at the Arsht Center, the Knight Foundation revealed that Ushe’s organization would not only receive $30,000 as a recipient of one of 34 Knight Arts Challenge grants, but also will collect $20,000 as the winner of the first-ever Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award.
The identity of the People’s Choice Award had been a secret until Monday night, when the Arts Garage beat out four Miami-based organizations in balloting submitted by text message. The Arts Garage is the only Palm Beach County recipient of a Knight Foundation award this year.
“It was just fantastic,” Ushe gushed into the phone just after the People’s Choice Award was announced. “The fact that we won it here in Miami, and that it’s a vote of the people — they are committed to what we are doing, and they want more of it … We were ecstatic.”
More than $100,000 in Knight Arts Challenge grants were given to programs in Broward County. Recipients were Business for the Arts of Broward; the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood; Ranjana Warier of the Davie-based Rhythms School of Dance; and Fort Lauderdale’s Pablo Malco 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.