Articles by Victoria Rogers

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    How the arts inform and engage—and energize—our communities

    February 1, 2017 by Victoria Rogers

    How the arts inform and engage—and energize—our communities

    Step Afrika!’s The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence. Photo by Meredith Hanafi

    Art critic JJ Charlesworth recently shared a sentiment that caught my attention, one I believe is important to any artist who works in and for their community:

    “If art’s engagement with society is to mean something credible, it’s time to have a conversation – to speak, and to listen.”

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    What we can learn from Opera Philadelphia's innovative new festival

    January 5, 2017 by Victoria Rogers

    What we can learn from Opera Philadelphia's innovative new festival

    Photo courtesy of Opera Philadelphia. 

    Who doesn’t like to experiment and have the opportunity to engage in binge watching?  Would you do it around opera?

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    Experience art in unexpected places with the #InsideOutUSA photo contest

    May 4, 2016 by Victoria Rogers

    Experience art in unexpected places with the #InsideOutUSA photo contest

    Above: Inside|Out Detroit, courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

    I love having a chance encounter with art, especially in unexpected places.   You turn a corner, or look around and see something that captures your attention because it’s so out of context.   What is a framed piece of art doing out on a trail, on the side of a building, at a racetrack, under a viaduct or in an outdoor market?  Why that specific work of art for that particular location?  What’s the significance and how does it relate to me?

    InsideOut is a program created by the Detroit Institute of Arts to make art a part of our everyday lives, by installing framed reproductions of its collection out into the community.  Because it’s a perfect fit for Knight’s mission, last year we funded museums in Akron, Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia to implement the program in their cities, and make the art hanging inside more accessible to people.

    A group of recently-arrived immigrants to the United States tour InsideOut Akron as part of their English class. Photo courtesy of the International Institute of Akron.

    And then the magic began to happen. Because of InsideOut, neighborhoods, entire communities have started to talk about art.  In each city, people have really gotten in to it – organizing everything from bike tours, wine tastings and even a zombie run around the locations. They have begun to think about art museums in a different way as they start to see how a collection has personal relevance.   

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    Binge-watching opera: Philly festival tests new models

    January 14, 2016 by Victoria Rogers

    Binge-watching opera: Philly festival tests new models

    Today, Knight Foundation is announcing $2.5 million in support for Opera Philadelphia’s innovative, new opening festival. Below, Vice President for Arts Victoria Rogers explains why.

    Opera Philadelphia’s first  “O,” a 12-day urban opera festival, debuts in September 2017, and I, for one, can’t wait. 

    Think about the fun of binge-watching seven seasons of “West Wing,” all six of “Downton Abbey,” past episodes of “Orange Is the New Black”or “Game of Thrones.” Now, imagine 12 nights of live, innovative opera with Philadelphia as the stage and you have O17, an opera happening. This new business model is the result of five years of data analysis; an honest recognition of what wasn’t working; an ongoing commitment to artistic excellence; and, a passionate belief in opera as a living, breathing, and relevant art form.

     

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    The arts champions among us

    November 30, 2015 by Victoria Rogers

    The arts champions among us

    In Sunday's New York Times Elaine Glusac wrote, "The Miami area may once have craved culture, but new institutions, with more on the way, have helped it reach critical mass." For any arts ecosystem to be successful, it needs a plethora of artists and makers, organizations both small and large, performing arts centers, buyers and funders. However perhaps most importantly, it needs champions.

    Tonight, in addition to announcing the 53 winners of the Knight Arts Challenge South Florida, Knight President Alberto Ibargüen honored four champions for their contributions to the arts. They have supported the next generation of makers, broadened our understanding of the world around us through access to independent film, and provided insight into  a diverse array of emerging contemporary visual artists through curated exhibitions and lectures.

    The 2015 Knight Art Champions are Kareem Tabsch and Vivian Marthell, co- founders of O Cinema, Alex Gartenfeld, interim director and chief curator at ICA, and Rosa de la Cruz, gallery owner and philanthropist who created a travel program for young art students at Design and Architecture High School (DASH) and the New World School of the Arts so that they can study art in New York and Europe.

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    Meet 22 groups pushing artistic boundaries in Philadelphia

    June 24, 2015 by Victoria Rogers

    Meet 22 groups pushing artistic boundaries in Philadelphia

    Above: The company of The Wilma Theater participates in a combat workshop taught by Ian Rose. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

    Today,  I’m excited to celebrate our latest Philadelphia arts grantees – 22 groups receiving $1.48 million. Each of these organizations represents the artistic excellence and audience engagement that Knight is committed to advancing.

    Our arts program has a two-pronged strategy: We fund large institutions – the ones that provide programming to thousands of people every day – to help them open up and engage their audiences in new ways. And we look to the grassroots too, seeking out the smaller organizations known for being nimble and innovative.

    In this group you’ll see a mix of both, and I’d like to spend a moment on a few of them.

    The City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program, for example, is not just bringing 14 of the country’s top contemporary artists to town for a massive public art project this summer. The program is ensuring the community is a part of the artistic process and shaping the work. Artist Sam Durant, for example, is creating a large-scale, chain link maze to be placed near City Hall, a highly-visible work on the theme of the U.S. criminal justice system. He’s inviting the public to hang their own theme-related personal items on it as well.

    The Curtis Institute of Music, meanwhile, is expanding the successful pilot of its ArtistYear program, which puts Curtis graduates in schools to not just teach but to become citizen artists. Artistic excellence is a given for musicians today. But they also need to communicate and engage with people off the stage to become part of the fabric of their communities – which this year of service does. You can read more about one of the ArtistYear’s beta -year experiences on our blog.

    And then we’re thrilled to see smaller organizations stretch and push the boundaries of their work. I think of organizations like BalletX, which is celebrating 10 years with a retrospective of their commissions and a new work; the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, a young group now working on a large-scale collaboration with Opera Philadelphia on the legacy of Andy Warhol; and Fresh Artists and Play On, Philly!, which are fostering a new generation of artists and creatives.

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    17 San Jose arts groups receive funding to engage Silicon Valley

    July 14, 2015 by Victoria Rogers

    17 San Jose arts groups receive funding to engage Silicon Valley

    At Knight, our goal is not to just fund artistic excellence, but to seek out projects that authentically engage their communities. Each year, we fund projects big and small that experiment with ways to reach new audiences, and to keep the current ones wanting more.

    Today, I’m excited to share that we are funding 17 organizations in San Jose, Calif., both large institutions and grassroots groups that strive to put the community at the center of their work. Together, they are receiving $630,000 for their efforts.

    In the list below, you’ll find some theater groups that are experimenting with new technologies and strategies. City Lights Theater Company, for example, had a character in a play this spring created through artificial intelligence, and projected on stage with animation. Opera Cultura invited the community to participate in a staged reading of an experimental opera based on the Mexican classic “Bless Me, Ultima.” And next fall, Naatak, one of the country’s largest Indian theaters, will present a new Hindu work on the often sensitive subject of Indian widowhood.

    We’re excited by several projects too that are invigorating public spaces by turning them into their stage. San Jose Taiko, for example, which tours nationally, is playing to the home crowd with free pop-up performances citywide. And The Commons will continue its immersive performances in the city’s parks. You can catch them on June 24 at St. James Park for a blend of big band jazz and a quilting bee.

    The Silicon Valley Ballet also is planning an exciting collaboration this fall – one of the largest between Cuban and American performing arts organizations since the revolution. The ballet will be the first American company to present Cuban choreographer Alicia Alonso’s “Giselle,” and programming will contextualize the recent opening of relations between the two countries.

    I’ll be in San Jose over the next few days, meeting our grantees and getting to know the cultural community better. I’m excited to see many of these projects develop, and the opportunity to learn from their progress.

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    Do-it-yourself spirit results in renewal of Knight Art Challenge Detroit

    November 8, 2015 by Victoria Rogers

    Do-it-yourself spirit results in renewal of Knight Art Challenge Detroit

    Above top: Haleem Rasul of Hardcore Detroit, credit Leena Lee. Video: Acres of Diamonds, The Story of the Knight Arts Challenge in Detroit.

    As the lights were lowered in the performance hall of the Masonic Temple, a collective state of excitement took hold.  The sound of a growing, rhythmic cadence filled the air.  Seated with colleagues from Knight in a box above the stage, we had a bird’s eye view of the dancers, their sound suits swirling in response to their movements as they strutted down the center aisle. Nick Cave’s Here Hear was in the house and the crowd went wild.   That’s just one of the magical movements that comes to mind when I think about the more than 100 winning projects the Knight Arts Challenge in Detroit has funded over the last several years.

    In 2012, Knight launched a three-year, $3 million per year Knight Arts Challenge in Detroit, part of a nearly $20 million, two-pronged investment for both local institutions and more grassroots efforts. The first three years of the challenge were, in some ways, an experiment. Would the challenge add to the momentum organically emerging in Detroit’s arts community? Given the city’s economic climate, would winners be able to raise matching funds? Our experience exceeded expectations.  Detroiters responded to the contest in droves, submitting more than 3,500 ideas reflective of the spirit of Detroit.  Our winners, 114 so far, have fueled the artistic excellence and ongoing growth of the local cultural community.  Many of them received national and international press coverage.  This summer an article in The New York Times made reference to four separate Knight Arts Challenge winners and their projects, including local artist Olayami Dabls’ lifelong labor of love, the MBAD African Bead Museum, and Cranbrook Art Museum's “Nick Cave: Here Hear.” Its no wonder the Detroit Free Press has called the first group of contest winners the “soul of Detroit.”