56 ideas for the Detroit arts receive $2.1 million in funding

Press Release

September 7, 2013


Winning projects use art to help shape Detroit’s future

Related Links

"Announcing Detroit's Knight Arts Challenge winners" by Dennis Scholl on KnightArts Blog

"Detroit: lifting the soul of a city" by Dennis Scholl on KnightBlog.org

DETROIT – (Sept. 8, 2013) – With a range of thought-provoking, community-driven and whimsical ideas, 56 projects received $2.1 million today as winners of the first Detroit Knight Arts Challenge.

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

The winners, chosen from more than 1,400 submissions, are predominantly individual artists and small collectives, as young as 16, and represent a diverse cross section of the community.

“Every day, in neighborhoods across Detroit, artists, entrepreneurs and designers are building on an impressive cultural legacy to shape new narratives for the city. Their ideas challenge us and inspire the artist in all of us. They also reflect the Detroit of today, and our hopes for tomorrow,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation.

With challenge funding, some of the 2013 winners will:

Connect people with the arts in new ways - by creating a series of intimate, yet engaging concerts in Detroit living rooms, expanding a literary walk where Detroiters come face-to-face with nationally renowned authors, and launching a Hyper Interactive Hip-Hop Mardi Gras Parade;

Reclaim the city’s landscape - by revitalizing blighted areas in Brightmoor through community art projects, creating guitars with wood from abandoned Detroit homes, and installing handcrafted porch swings at bus stops and parks to create an artful space;

Develop the next generation of creative thinkers – by developing a free afterschool program for Arab music, launching a pilot program that integrates the arts into every element of a school’s curriculum, and helping high school students develop theater talents through workshops;

Build on the city’s cultural legacy – by illuminating Detroit’s darkened streets with lit portraits of the city’s elders, challenging modern perceptions of puppetry, strengthening the local jazz scene, and celebrating the ’70s dance craze, the Detroit Jit.

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

“The arts help shape the shared experiences that connect people to one another and to their communities. We hope that Knight Foundation’s support will strengthen Detroit’s impressive arts scene—and with it –the fabric of this great community,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.

When it opened for applications last spring, the Knight Arts Challenge asked one simple question: What’s your best idea for the arts? There were only three rules for applying: 1) The idea must be about the arts; 2) The project must take place in or benefit Detroit; and 3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment, within a year.

The challenge is part of a $19.25 million investment in the Detroit arts that Knight Foundation announced last fall. It includes support for the three-year challenge, which provides funding, exposure and momentum to smaller arts efforts, and $10.25 million to some of the city’s premiere cultural institutions: the Arab American National Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit School of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre and the Sphinx Organization.

Detroit is the third city where Knight Foundation has launched the challenge, following successful efforts in Miami and Philadelphia. The local response was overwhelming: in its first year, Detroit saw the largest number of applications per capita of any Knight Arts Challenge.

The winner of the Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award, where the public voted this summer to decide which of five challenge finalists should receive a $20,000 bonus prize, will be announced at a Sept. 10 reception.

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 @knightfdn 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.


Media Contacts :

Berg Muirhead, Detroit Knight Foundation Representative

Peter Vandyke, (313) 530-7882; [email protected]

Marika Lynch, Knight Foundation Communications
(305) 898-3595, [email protected]

Detroit Knight Arts Challenge 2013 Winners

Sci-Fi Workshops Help Detroiters Imagine City’s Future

Recipient: adrienne maree brown
Award: $20,000
To uplift Detroiters’ ideas and narratives about the city’s future through a series of sci-fi writing workshops that create works for ’zines

Musical “House Guests” Collaborate on Album

Recipient: ADULT.
Award: $40,000
To build on the city’s musical legacy by having this band invite international and national musicians as “house guests” to live together and collaborate on an album

Teacher’s Retreat Promotes Digital Arts in the Classroom

Recipient: Allied Media Projects
Award: $50,000
To fuel new ideas for the classroom by providing digital media teachers with a three-day artists’ retreat and a year-round network of support

Festival Marks Exhibition at Arab American National Museum

Recipient: Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Project
Award: $20,000
To mark the exhibition of a collection of artist books and letterpress broadsides commemorating the 2007 bombing of the famed street of Baghdad booksellers through a book arts festival

Ice Cream Truck Sows Love for Historic March

Recipient: Alonso del Arte
Award: $20,000
To introduce classical music to new audiences by driving an ice cream truck through the city playing Anton Bruckner’s March in E-flat major and other works

Documentary Celebrates Armenian-American Music in Detroit

Recipient: Ara Topouzian
Award: $12,000
To preserve the heritage of Armenian-American Detroiters by producing a documentary that highlights their history through traditional folk music

Arts Hub to Inspire and Connect Community

Recipient: Arts League of Michigan
Award: $100,000
To inspire and support the local creative community by enhancing the Carr Center as an Artists Hub that offers workspaces and connects artists and the community

Project Replaces Brightmoor Blight With Public Art

Recipient: Brightmoor Alliance
Award: $50,000
To revitalize open spaces in the Brightmoor community by commissioning local artists to replace blight with public art

Multicultural Mariachis to Perform Songs From Across the Americas

Recipient: Center of Music & Performing Arts Southwest (COMPÁS)
Award: $35,000
To preserve and expand the reach of traditional Mexican music by creating a mariachi youth ensemble that would celebrate the popular format while incorporating the music of other Latin American countries

Video Project Illuminates City Streets With Images of Its Elders

Recipient: Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Award: $120,000
To illuminate some of Detroit’s dark neighborhood streets through an outdoor video art installation showcasing the faces and wisdom of the city’s elders

Multimedia Installation Connects Art and Social Justice

Recipient: Complex Movements
Award: $100,000
To explore the relationship between art, science and social justice movements through a multimedia performance installation inspired by community-led efforts in Detroit

Festival Highlights Diversity of Rock

Recipient: Cosmic Slop Festival
Award: $12,000
To celebrate rock music’s multicultural roots through a festival that showcases rock musicians of color

Series Brings the Classics to a Wider Community

Recipient: CutTime Productions
Award: $30,000
To share a love of the classics by having traditional performers play at neighborhood bars, cafes and eateries

Music Series Reimagines Historic Buildings

Recipient: Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings
Award: $15,000
To expand the audience for chamber music through a program where the city’s architecturally and historically significant locations are transformed into musical performance spaces

Converted Truck Provides Stage for Increased Microfunding of Creative Projects

Recipient: Detroit SOUP
Award: $12,000
To engage more Detroiters in giving to creative projects by converting a bread truck into a portable space where people can meet to microfund ideas

New Repair Shop Seeks Bikes as Works of Art

Recipient: East Side Riders
Award: $10,000
To foster a community of urban bike design by helping the East Side Riders — artists who build bikes as a means of expression — open a shop and expand

Youth Art Program Comes to Grandmont Rosedale

Recipient: Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation
Award: $15,000
To promote creative expression in local youth through a free art program for teens

Art Library to Create a Community of Collectors

Recipient: Hatch: A Hamtramck Art Collective
Award: $20,000
To foster a community of art collectors through an art library where they can borrow a Detroiter’s work to display for two months

Documentary Celebrates Detroit’s Jit Craze

Recipient: Hardcore Detroit
Award: $12,000
To preserve the legacy of the 1970s dance craze the Detroit Jit through a documentary featuring the original Jitterbugs and an instructional video on how the dance is performed

Dance Series Explores Cultural Understanding Through Art

Recipient: Heritage Works
Award: $50,000
To explore cultural understanding through the arts by having nationally known choreographers engage communities in creating new works that explore cultural identities and expression

Student Writers Gain Career Skills Via Online Literary Journal

Project: Literary Arts Project
Recipient: $50,000
To help teens develop their artistic and entrepreneurial skills by producing and marketing an online literary journal

Competition to Showcase Best of Detroit Jazz Scene

Recipient: Jazz Network Foundation
Award: $20,000
To strengthen jazz in Detroit by creating a competition for musicians whose winners will form a performance band

Concerts Go Intimate in Home-Based Series

Recipient: Jeff Karoub
Award: $8,000
To create a profoundly engaging musical experience through a series of small concerts rotating through Detroit homes

Community Radio Stations Celebrate the Sounds of Detroit

Recipient: Jon Brumit
Award: $30,000
To create a series of drive-through audio collages of the city by installing hyper-local radio stations continuously broadcasting on the same frequency

’Zine Series Explores Detroit’s People and Places

Recipient: Leander Johnson
Award: $6,000
To engage Detroiters in the city’s history by creating a series of ’zines that explore the city’s people and places

Community Conversations Planned Around Documentary on Detroit Activist

Recipient: LeeLeeFilms
Award: $5,000
To engage the community in a discussion on the creative process through screenings of a documentary on Chinese-American philosopher and activist Grace Lee Boggs

Photos of Detroit Musicians to Be Made Public

Recipient: Leni Sinclair
Award: $10,000
To preserve the history of Detroit musicians by archiving a photography collection that dates to the 1960s

Community Performance Series Comes to Mexicantown Mercado

Recipient: Living Arts
Award: $12,000
To weave the arts into neighborhoods by creating a performance series with local youth and adult artists out of a studio theater at the Mexicantown Mercado

Monthly Series Preserves Traditional Folk Blues and Gospel Music

Recipient: LO & BEHOLD! Records & Books
Award: $30,000
To present and document traditional music in Detroit by preserving and making available the traditionally produced recordings of the store’s Folk Blues Night performances

Project Imagines Detroit Through African-American Cultural Legacy

Recipient: Maison LaFleur
Award: $12,000
To use the contemporary arts movement Afrofuturism as a vehicle for social change through a series of educational workshops and installations

Project Turns Wood From Abandoned Homes Into Guitars

Recipient: Mark Wallace
Award: $8,000
To turn abandoned homes into a source of creativity by using reclaimed lumber to create guitars

After School Program Centers on Classical Arab Music

Recipient: Michigan Arab Orchestra
Award: $100,000
To help bridge cultural gaps in Detroit through a free afterschool program centered on the performance of classical Arab music

Orchestras Collaborate on Middle Eastern Fusion Event

Recipient: Michigan Philharmonic
Award: $50,000
To bring together Detroit’s diverse cultures and communities by producing a fusion event featuring the Michigan Philharmonic and the Michigan Arab Orchestra

Film Festival Expands

Recipient: Michigan Theater
Award: $50,000
To inspire Detroit through film by expanding the Cinetopia Film Festival to become a signature event for the city

Expanding a Festival of Art and Light

Recipient: Midtown Detroit
Award: $50,000
To bring Detroiters together by expanding the light-based outdoor art festival DLECTRICITY to include a permanent installation on Woodward Avenue, among other things

Project brings community in on design challenge

Recipient: MODCaR
Award: $25,000
To use the power of design to produce vibrant civic spaces by bringing together architects and creatives with community advocates

Artists Take Residence — in a School

Recipient: Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit
Award: $200,000
To inspire the city’s youngest minds through a new program that integrates the arts into every element of an elementary school’s curriculum

Summer Series Brings Brass Band to Detroiters

Recipient: Motor City Brass Band
Award: $5,000
To help build community through the arts by creating a series of events that use brass band music and the movies to celebrate the people of Detroit

Hip-Hop Mardi Gras Parade Builds Skills, Creativity

Recipient: Mt Elliott Makerspace
Award: $50,000
To celebrate Detroit’s vibrancy by creating a Hyper Interactive Hip-Hop Mardi Gras Parade that combines the unique traditions of the city’s Caribbean Mardi Gras Festival, local hip-hop artists and the DIY innovators at the Mt Elliott Makerspace

Teens to Learn Leadership Skills and Produce Events at MOCAD

Recipient: Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)
Award: $120,000
To give teens a stake in the arts by creating a teen council at MOCAD that will produce programs, events and materials for their peers and adults

Certificate Program Offers Workshops in Gallery Skills

Recipient: N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art
Award: $80,000
To strengthen the city’s galleries by creating a training program where workers learn skills in installing, shipping and archiving art

Residency Elevates Detroit’s Reputation in Canada

Recipient: North American Souvenirs
Award: $30,000
To showcase Detroit to the city’s neighbors by creating a residency for Canadian visual artists in the city

Students Learn Music Production in New Studio

Recipient: Notes for Notes
Award: $40,000
To promote free and creative expression through an after-school music program where Detroit’s youth can explore, create and record music

African Drumming Workshops Teach Instrument’s Significance in Today’s World

Recipient: Omowale Entertainment
Award: $15,000
To bring Detroit residents together through a series of West African drumming and dancing workshops that teach the form’s historical and cultural significance

Year-round Theater Program Helps Students Discover Talents

Recipient: Plowshares Theatre Company
Award: $75,000
To help high school students discover their artistic talents through theater workshops in partnership with Michigan State University

Whimsical Swings Lift Moods, Inspire Community

Recipient: Public Art Workz
Award: $15,000
To provide an artful space by placing handcrafted, whimsical porch swings — equipped with LED lights and cellphone charging stations — at bus stops and in parks around the city

Literary Readings Paired With Art, Food and DJs

Recipient: Public Pool
Award: $15,000
To cultivate interest in the written word by expanding a neighborhood art space’s literary series to include authors from outside the city

Performances Explore Detroit Through Puppetry

Recipient: PuppetART Theater
Award: $12,000
To challenge modern perceptions of puppetry by bringing together four Detroit organizations for puppet theater productions

Festival Engages Public Around Hamtramck/Detroit Border

Recipient: The Hinterlands
Award: $35,000
To help unite Hamtramck and Detroit by creating a 48-hour festival along the municipalities’ border

Curated Storytelling Event Brings Personal Narratives to the Public

Recipient: The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers
Award: $30,000
To bring Detroiters together through storytelling by strengthening and growing a monthly event where Detroiters share a true, personal story

Poetry Series Demystifies the Art Form

Recipient: The Woodward Line Poetry Series
Award: $30,000
To expand the local audience for poetry by broadening a poetry series to include more prominent national writers and a session where guest authors discuss Detroiters’ unpublished works

Immersive Art Show Is Part Masquerade Ball, Part Surreal Circus

Recipient: Theatre Bizarre
Award: $100,000
To inspire performers and audiences alike through a large-scale, immersive art installation that brings together local artists, including acrobats and circus sideshow artists

New Museum Highlights City’s Music Legacy

Recipient: Trinosophes
Award: $15,000
To shine a spotlight on Detroit’s contributions to the world’s musical culture by transforming a Gratiot Avenue storefront into a small music museum.

Literary Walk Connects Detroiters With Authors

Recipient: M. L. Liebler for The Midtown Detroit Literary Walk
Award: $15,000
To engage the city in literature by expanding a literary walk in Midtown where national and local writers read at a series of stops a short walking distance from each other

Young Detroiters Design Bike and Skate Art

Recipient: Young Nation
Award: $12,000
To spread art into neighborhoods by commissioning local artists to create a series of skateboard and bicycle designs that will be sold out of a local shop

Giving African Artists a Bigger Voice in Detroit

Recipient: Zimbabwe Cultural Centre in Detroit
Award: $15,000
To unite artists in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Detroit by transforming two living spaces into cultural consulates