Knight Arts Challenge names St. Paul finalists

Press Release

July 14, 2014


69 arts organizations, small ensembles and individual artists selected

Mu Performing Arts

ST. PAUL — July 14, 2014 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced 69 finalists in the Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide ideas contest funding arts and cultural projects that engage and enrich St. Paul.

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The finalists proposed a range of ideas, from concerts with instruments made entirely from ice to cultural experiences in unexpected places, from celebrations of Somali poetry and Hmong fashion to a tapestry of poems written by residents in rapidly changing neighborhoods.

A list is below and at Winners will be announced in September.

“Earlier this year, we asked a simple question: What’s your best idea for the arts in St. Paul? The answers we received truly reflect the community’s new, innovative and authentically St. Paul ideas,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.

Open to everyone including individuals, organizations and businesses—both nonprofit and for-profit—the Knight Arts Challenge offers matching grant money for the best ideas in the arts. Applicants must follow only three rules: 1) The idea must be about the arts; 2) The project must take place in or benefit St. Paul; 3) The grant recipient must find funds to match Knight’s commitment within one year.

This is the first of three years for the St. Paul Arts Challenge, which will award $4.5 million over the three years.

The challenge is part of an $8 million investment in the St. Paul arts that Knight Foundation announced in January. It includes support for three years of the Knight Arts Challenge, and a $3.5 million commitment to five respected institutions that have helped the city earn its reputation as a thriving cultural capital: The Arts Partnership, Penumbra Theatre, Springboard for the Arts, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and TU Dance. For more information, visit

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

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Media Contacts:

• Kathy Graves, Parenteau Graves, 612-242-3184, [email protected]
• Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]

Knight Arts Challenge St. Paul Finalists 2014

Aaron Dysart, Andrea Steudel, Emily Stover, Asia Ward
To celebrate the landmark power plant in downtown St. Paul as a largely sustainable fuel source by projecting a light to show off the steam plume that billows from the roof

Alec Soth / Little Brown Mushroom
To create “The Winnebago Workshop,” a mobile classroom where teens are paired with artists to create multimedia stories

American Composers Forum
To bring the arts into people’s everyday lives by creating cultural experiences in unlikely places, from jazz at the light rail stops to free yoga in a commercial storefront

Ananya Dance Theatre
To tell the story of womens’ roles in the global food system through an interdisciplinary piece

Art House North
To grow the arts in St. Paul’s West End by making upgrades to Art House North, a 100-year-old church turned community arts center

ArtSage d/b/a Minnesota Creative Arts and Aging Network
To demonstrate that art making has no age or limitation by creating a fellowship program for elder artists with residencies in senior facilities

Asian Economic Development Association
To explore the importance of water through art at the St. Paul Water Festival, a Minnesota adaptation of events that take place in Southeast Asia

Barry Madore
To showcase Latino East Siders through a fictional radio novela/variety show, broadcast on the new Dayton’s Bluff FM station

Bedlam Theatre
To build the capacity of local theaters by creating an inventory of high-end technical equipment that companies could borrow for shows

BFU-USA: Minnesota Chapter
To celebrate Cameroonian culture at a special event of choral singing, traditional drumming and dance at the newly dedicated Cameroon Community Center

Button Poetry
To provide the community with access to top spoken-word artists through monthly performances and workshops

CapitolRiver Council
To ensure the continued success of Music in Mears, a free concert and indie film series that offers exposure for emerging artists and local businesses

Center for Hmong Arts and Talent
To highlight the best of Hmong design through the Fresh Traditions Fashion Show, where contestants incorporate the five traditional Hmong fabrics into contemporary form

City of Skate
To create a skateable art plaza that brings out the creativity of skateboarders and the community with skateable sculptures, a video screen and performance stage

CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio)
To highlight Latinos’ cultural heritage by creating tile mosaic benches that showcase the community’s narratives

Contempo Physical Dance
To bring international artists and their expertise to St. Paul through an annual choreography residency for those working in Brazilian or African Diaspora contemporary dance

Curious Incident
To highlight the history of St. Paul’s unused spaces by energizing them with immersive arts events

Creative Enterprise Zone (St. Anthony Park Community Council)
To turn the creative work of the enterprise zone inside out with highly visible installations in empty storefronts, on billboards, in pop-up art parks and other public spaces

Dreamland Arts
To promote sustainable practices in the arts by converting Dreamland Arts into a solar-powered theater with an exterior solar-art design

East Side Freedom Library
To create large-scale artworks that celebrate freedom and honor the people who have shaped the city’s East Side

Erik Barsness
To bring a new chill to Saint Paul Winter Carnival audiences through concerts performed on xylophones, marimbas and vibraphones made entirely out of ice by Swedish instrument builder Tim Linhart

Hamilton Print Cooperative
To expand this cooperative that provides daily classes and a mentorship program for the hand printing of original artwork

Henry Garnica
To celebrate St. Paul’s many peoples and cultures through a fall arts festival timed to El Dia de La Raza

Hmong National Development
To explore how Hmong-American arts and culture has evolved on the 40th anniversary of the community’s major migration to the U.S.

To celebrate the Igbo culture of Nigeria through traditional music and dance performances at the community’s signature cultural festival

In Progress
To build understanding of the long invisible, yet vibrant North End community through digital storytelling by local youth and adults

Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota
To help develop local screenwriters through a fellowship competition where all finalists receive mentoring and classes to improve their work

Jonathan Oppenheimer
To amplify artists’ and immigrant business owners’ voices along Snelling Avenue through mosaics, graffiti art and paint murals that showcase the neighborhood’s stories

Jeff Bartlett
To transform the city’s landmarks by having lighting designer Jeff Bartlett turn buildings into kinetic canvases for light, color and drama

Ka Joog
To preserve the art of Somali poetry through a mobile art program offering performances and educational programming

Kang Vang
To use film as a way to explore the lives of young, first-generation Hmong-Americans living in the Twin Cities in 1985, the 10th anniversary of the fall of Laos to communism

Kaotic Good Productions
To produce a live radio drama titled “San Pablo, MN,” which explores the lives of fictional immigrant children and their adaptation to life in the U.S.

M2 Foundation
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 Saint Paul Saints’ new ballpark

Maria IsaBelle Perez
To broaden understanding of the African Diaspora and indigenous  connections in Latin America through an exhibit of Afro-Latino art at Union Depot

Michael Bahl
To create a landmark for St. Paul bicycle culture through a sculpture that doubles as a bike rack

Minnesota Fringe Festival
To expand the year-round local arts scene by connecting adventurous audiences and artists in a winter Minnesota Fringe Festival

McNally Smith College of Music Foundation
To provide high school-aged students interested in music careers with the rare opportunity to attend a prestigious Grammy Camp, staffed by Grammy professionals

To foster the arts in the city’s Arab-American community by bringing acclaimed Arab writers and filmmakers to present their works in the city’s parks, art spaces and bars

MN Spoken Word Association
To celebrate the city through spoken word by creating a tapestry of poems written by residents in 10 rapidly growing neighborhoods

Mu Performing Arts
To empower immigrants in the Twin Cities to tell their stories through original theatrical performances with puppetry, masks and movement created in collaboration with Masanari Kawahara

Nautilus Music-Theater
To become a major resource in the artistic and social renaissance of Lowertown St. Paul by expanding programming and audience engagement efforts in a new street-level space

To present new media performances monthly that engage local audiences with an expanded theater experience

Oromo Community of Minnesota
To explore what it means to be Oromo-American by giving mini-grants to community members to share art about their culture and traditions

Ragamala Dance
To bring traditional Indian arts into the community by inviting musicians, poets, dancers and storytellers to celebrate Navarathri,  the Festival of Nine Nights, in a public celebration

Ricardo Vazquez
To bring the Latino and larger Twin Cities community together to celebrate the life and work of Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca in an outdoor festival

Rogue Citizen
To celebrate St. Paul Hip-Hop through an arts and music series that draws attention to an often overlooked culture in the city

Saint Paul Public Schools and Partners
To encourage creative expression by creating a space to present high-quality student-produced art events

Science Museum of Minnesota
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

Seitu Jones
To provide an artistic and scientific exploration of the Mississippi River by creating a wooden barge called an “ARTark” for an exhibition at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Shades of Yellow
To build the Hmong LGBT artist community by creating a studio where artists can create, perform and receive support to creatively share their stories

Silvia Pontaza
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

Skylark Opera
To push the frontiers of musical collaboration by producing an opera with Teatro del Pueblo that represents Minnesota’s Latino communities

Stahl Construction Company
To preserve the legacy of St. Paul’s architecture by restoring the historical company signs that distinguish Lowertown

Sumunar Indonesian Music and Dance
To introduce St. Paul audiences to the tradition of the Indonesian wayang kulit (shadow puppet play), based on traditional stories and current events in Minnesota

Sweet 317
To offer a free monthly music series at this intimate space in Lowertown focused on art forward events

The Baroque Room
To showcase the Saint Paul classical music scene during the Art Crawl through performances in art gallery spaces

The Bindery Projects
To ensure the city is part of the national discourse on contemporary art by showcasing prominent artists at this artist-run exhibition space

The Drawing Project
To bring together two local artist groups – the Urban Roving Drawers and BikeDrawBike – to create art works in neighborhoods around the city and display them in nontraditional settings

The O'Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University
To pilot a new Women of Substance series focused on the artistry and voice of global female artists, complemented by public master classes and school visits

The TC Club Crawl, Concert & Ticket Report
To broaden the audience for live music in St. Paul by building into a comprehensive website with descriptions of bands and weekly curated recommendations

The Winding Sheet Outfit
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

TU Dance
To help local dancers build careers by bringing together TU Dance’s school with students from Miami’s New World School of the Arts for residencies in both cities

Twin Cities Jazz Festival
To increase audiences for jazz by expanding the outdoor stages in Lowertown for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival

Unify University!
To celebrate cultural unity by commissioning artists to build giant street puppets for the Unify University Community Parade

To capture the impact of war and honor veterans through song via the work of Iraqi veteran and poet Brian Turner, local musicians and the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra

Walker West Music Academy
To bring jazz music back to Selby Avenue through a monthly free concert series at Walker West’s new music center

Wonderlust Productions
To tell the stories of the state Capitol through a site-specific play generated by the politicians, staffers, reporters and other people who bring the place to life each day

WorkHorse Coffee Bar
To engage the commuting public through an intimate streetscape gallery in a vintage fire-hose cabinet near the new Green Line

To unite the aural and oral experiences of audiences through musical works that accompany particular dishes created by five St. Paul chefs at events in Studio Z in downtown St. Paul