42 Winners Named in First St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge

Press Release

September 30, 2014


ST. PAUL, MINN. –  Sept. 29, 2014 – A range of community-driven ideas representing the city’s diversity and cultural vibrancy received $1.365 million today as winners of the first St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge.

Related Link

"Announcing the winners of the St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge!" - by Dennis Scholl on Knight Arts blog (09/29/14)

A program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the challenge funds the best ideas for engaging and enriching St. Paul through the arts.

Chosen from 868 submissions, the 42 winners include individual artists, small ensembles, community-based businesses and established arts organizations from a diverse cross section of St. Paul. The ideas range from a participatory theater workshop that helps students examine race and racism to light projections on the steam plume of the landmark St. Paul power plant.

All of the winners answered a question posed by Knight Foundation earlier this year: What’s your best idea for the arts in St. Paul?

“The winners show a cultural community willing to engage new audiences, open to new ideas and experimenting, yet reflective of this city and its people in authentic ways,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.

With challenge funding, the 2014 winners will:

Connect more people with the arts in new ways – by surprising lunchtime crowds with musical performances, designing a food opera that pairs meals with musical compositions, creating a play in the state Capitol based on the lives of the people who work there, and transforming the city’s landmark buildings into kinetic canvases with light.

Shine a spotlight on St. Paul’s diverse communities – by showcasing Latinos through a fictional radio novella,  elevating African and Brazilian diaspora contemporary dance, preserving Somali poetry through a mobile art program and highlighting the best of Hmong design in a fashion show.

Develop the next generation of creative thinkers – by providing students with the rare opportunity to attend GRAMMY Camp, pairing teens with professional artists to make multimedia stories in a traveling RV classroom, and instilling a love of percussion instruments through a new ensemble that will perform at the St. Paul Saints’ new ballpark.

The full list of winners and their project ideas is below. More information is available at KnightArts.org.

In its first of three years, the Knight Arts Challenge has only three rules for applying: 1) The idea must be about the arts; 2) The project must take place in or benefit St. Paul; 3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.

The challenge is part of an $8 million investment in St. Paul that Knight Foundation announced in January. The two-pronged effort includes $4.5 million over three years for the challenge plus $3.5 million to five respected institutions that have helped the city earn its title as a thriving cultural capital: The Arts Partnership, Penumbra Theatre, Springboard for the Arts, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and TU Dance.

“We believe Knight Foundation’s investment in St. Paul will strengthen the city’s burgeoning arts scene, and with it, the fabric of our community,” said Polly Talen, St. Paul program director for Knight Foundation. “We look forward to watching the work of this year’s Arts Challenge winners unfold.”

St. Paul is the fourth city where Knight Foundation has launched the challenge, following successful efforts in Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia.

For more on Knight Foundation’s arts initiative and to view a full list of Knight Arts Challenge winners, visit www.KnightArts.org. Connect on the Knight Arts Challenge Facebook page here and via @knightarts and #knightarts on Twitter.

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.



Kathy Graves, Parenteau Graves, 612-242-3184, [email protected]

Marika Lynch, Knight Foundation Communications Consultant, [email protected], 305-908-2677


Knight Arts Challenge St. Paul Winners 2014

Power Plant Will Project Positive Energy
Recipient: Aaron Dysart, Andrea Steudel, Emily Stover and Asia Ward
Award: $35,000
To celebrate the landmark power plant in downtown St. Paul as a largely sustainable fuel source by projecting a light show on the steam plume that billows from the roof

Winnebago Workshops Inspire Teen Artists
Recipient: Alec Soth / Little Brown Mushroom
Award: $35,000
To create “The Winnebago Workshop,” a mobile classroom where teens are paired with artists to create multimedia stories

Ensembles Bring Music to Unlikely St. Paul Locations
Recipient: American Composers Forum

Award: $7,000

To bring the arts into people’s everyday lives by infusing music experiences into unlikely places in downtown St. Paul during the noontime hour.

Women’s Roles in Global Food System Focus of Interdisciplinary Work
Recipient: Ananya Dance Theatre
Award: $50,000
To tell the story of women’s roles in the global food system through an interdisciplinary piece

Water Festival Adapts Southeast Asian Tradition
Recipient: Asian Economic Development Association
Award: $50,000
To explore the significance of water through art at the St. Paul Water Festival, a Minnesota adaptation of celebrations that take place in Southeast Asia.

Live Theater and Radio Novela Series Showcases Latino East Siders
Recipient: Barry Madore
Award: $50,0000
To showcase Latino East Siders through a fictional radio novela/variety show, broadcast on the new Dayton’s Bluff FM station

Poetry Slam Features National Artists and Cash Prizes
Recipient: Button Poetry
Award: $40,000
To provide the community with access to top spoken-word artists through monthly performances and workshops

Fashion Show Highlights the Best of Hmong Design
Recipient: Center for Hmong Arts and Talent
Award: $35,000
To highlight the best of Hmong design through the Fresh Traditions Fashion Show, where contestants incorporate the five traditional Hmong fabrics into contemporary form

Choreography Residency Elevates African Diaspora Contemporary Dance
Recipient: Contempo Physical Dance
Award: $30,000
To challenge assumptions about African and contemporary dance through an annual choreography residency for those working in Brazilian or African Diaspora contemporary dance

Immersive Art Experiences Transform St. Paul’s Underutilized Spaces
Recipient: curious incident
Award: $15,000
To highlight the history of St. Paul’s unused spaces by energizing them with immersive arts events

Large-Scale Storytelling Artworks Honor East Siders
Recipient: East Side Freedom Library
Award: $25,000
To commission large-scale artworks that promote "the work of freedom" and honor the people who have shaped the city’s East Side

Hamilton Ink Spot Expands Access to Printmaking
Recipient: Hamilton Ink Spot
Award: $50,000
To expand this storefront cooperative that provides classes and mentorship programs for the hand printing of original artwork

North Enders Tell Their Stories Through Digital Media
Recipient: In Progress
Award: $50,000
To build understanding of the long invisible yet vibrant North End community through digital storytelling by local youth and adults

New Fellowship Competition Boosts Screenwriters
Recipient: Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota
Award: $60,000
To help develop local screenwriters through a fellowship competition where all finalists receive mentoring and classes to improve their work

Dynamic Lighting Displays Transform Rice Park Landmarks
Recipient: Jeff Bartlett
Award: $45,000
To transform landmark buildings in St. Paul by having  master lighting designer Jeff Bartlett turn architectural icons into kinetic canvases for light, color and drama.

Mosaics, Murals and Graffiti Art Amplify Immigrant Stories
Recipient: Jonathan Oppenheimer
Award: $25,000
To amplify artists’ and immigrant business owners’ voices along Snelling Avenue through mosaics, graffiti art and paint murals that showcase the neighborhood’s stories

Mobile Art Program Focuses on Preservation of Somali Poetry and Arts
Recipient: Ka Joog
Award: $20,000
To preserve the art of Somali poetry through a mobile art program offering performances and educational programming

New Youth Percussion Group Featured at St. Paul Saints Stadium
Recipient: M2 Foundation
Award: $30,000
To foster a love for music in St. Paul youth by teaching them to perform African and Brazilian rhythms on percussion instruments, preparing for performances at the St. Paul Saints’ new ballpark

St. Paul Lands GRAMMY Camp for Teens
Recipient: McNally Smith College of Music Foundation
Award: $20,000
To provide high school students interested in music careers with the rare opportunity to attend a prestigious GRAMMY Camp, staffed by GRAMMY professionals

Bronze Skeleton Sculpture Doubles as Iconic Bike Rack
Recipient: Michael Bahl
Award: $40,000
To create a landmark for St. Paul bicycle culture through a sculpture that doubles as a bike rack

Series brings Arab-American Art into the Community
Recipient: Mizna
Award: $40,000
To introduce new audiences to Arab-American artistic expression by bringing local and national Arab writers and filmmakers to the city’s parks, art spaces and cafes

Poetic Tapestry to Reflect a Changing City
Recipient: MN Spoken Word Association
Award: $14,000
To celebrate the city through spoken word by creating a tapestry of poems written by residents in 10 rapidly growing neighborhoods

Immigrant Stories Take Stage in New Work
Recipient: Mu Performing Arts
Award: $70,000
To empower immigrants in the Twin Cities to tell their stories by creating an original play about the 21st century immigrant experience in collaboration with artist Masanari Kawahara

Music-Theater Expands New Works Series
Recipient: Nautilus Music-Theater
Award: $40,000
To become a major resource in the renaissance of Lowertown St. Paul by expanding programming and audience engagement efforts in a new street-level space

Indian Celebration Moves from Home to Public Sphere
Recipient: Ragamala Dance Company
Award: $18,000
To bring a traditional Indian celebration of the arts into the public sphere with “Navaratri: Bringing the Arts from Home to Community”

Series Celebrates Hip-Hop Culture in Art and Music
Recipient: Rogue Citizen /Free Range Music Cooperative
Award: $15,000
To celebrate St. Paul hip-hop through an arts and music series that draws attention to an often-overlooked culture in the city

Public Gallery for Student Works Coming to Creative Arts School
Recipient: Saint Paul Public Schools and Partners
Award: $5,000
To encourage creative expression by creating a public gallery to present high-quality student-produced art events

Theater Project Helps Students Explore Race and Racism
Recipient: Science Museum of Minnesota
Award: $55,000
To explore race and racism through community workshops that are paired with a museum exhibition, led by Penumbra Theatre Company, and grounded in theater techniques

Space Helps Cultivate a Community of Queer Hmong Artists
Recipient: Shades of Yellow
Award: $19,000
To build the Hmong/ Asian Pacific Islander LGBTQ artist community by opening a studio where artists can create, perform and receive support to creatively share their stories

Radio Show Makes Art Accessible to Latinos
Recipient: Silvia Pontaza
Award: $40,000
To make art more accessible to the Latino community by creating a community radio show and podcast that provides context on local cultural exhibits and events

Signs from Lowertown’s history Preserved
Recipient: Stahl Construction Company
Award: $45,000
To preserve the legacy of St. Paul’s architecture by restoring historic company signs that distinguish Lowertown

New Puppet Play Features Indonesian-Minnesota Mash-up
Recipient: Sumunar Indonesian Music and Dance
Award: $15,000
To introduce local audiences to Indonesian shadow puppet plays, known as wayang kulit, based on traditional stories and current events in Minnesota

Intimate Concerts Planned for Lowertown
Recipient: Sweet 317
Award: $6,000
To offer a free monthly music series at this intimate space in Lowertown focused on art-forward events

Classical Groups Widen Reach with Art Crawl Performances
Recipient: The Baroque Room
Award: $12,000
To showcase the Saint Paul classical music scene during the Art Crawl through performances in art gallery spaces

Exhibition Space Brings Prominent Artists to St. Paul
Recipient: The Bindery Projects
Award: $50,000
To ensure the city is part of the national discourse on contemporary art by showcasing prominent artists at this artist-run exhibition space

Theater in a Tent: Mini-Performances Provide Curious Experiences
Recipient: The Winding Sheet Outfit
Award: $4,000
To infuse a sense of magic and wonder into theater through a storytelling performance that takes place beneath a black tent that travels around the city

Jazz Festival Expands
Recipient: Twin Cities Jazz Festival
Award: $125,000
To increase audiences for jazz by expanding the outdoor stages in Lowertown for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival

Parade Puppets Will Manifest Unity Along University Avenue
Recipient: Unify University!
Award: $7,000
To celebrate cultural unity by commissioning artists to build giant street puppets for the Unify University Community Parade

Series Brings Jazz to Selby Avenue
Recipient: Walker West Music Academy
Award: $25,000
To bring jazz music back to Selby Avenue through a monthly free concert series at Walker West’s new music center

Stories of State Capitol To Take the Stage
Recipient: Wonderlust Productions
Award: $35,000
To provide a behind-the-scenes peak of the state Capitol through a site-specific play generated by the people who bring the place to life each day

“Smallest Museum in St. Paul” to be created at Raymond/University on the Green Line
Recipient: WorkHorse Coffee Bar
Award: $5,000
To engage Green Line LRT commuters by creating “the smallest museum in St. Paul” in a vintage fire-hose cabinet along University Avenue

“Food Opera” to Pair Dishes with New Musical Compositions
Recipient: Zeitgeist
Award: $10,000
To meld the musical and culinary arts by pairing foods with new musical compositions