Knight Foundation announces $25 million in new gifts for the South Florida arts

Press Release

March 8, 2015

PAMM visitors

Above: Visitors at Pérez Art Museum Miami with Gary Simmons’ Frozen in Time, 2014.

Knight investment will now total $122 million in Miami arts since 2005

PAMM, University of Miami School of Music and ICA Miami are recipients

Knight Arts Challenge South Florida to continue through 2018

MIAMI – March 8, 2015 – Furthering its efforts to make art general in South Florida, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced $25 million in new funding for the local cultural community. The support brings Knight Foundation’s total investment in the Miami arts to $122 million since 2005.

Related Links

"In Miami, new funding and new beginnings in the arts" by Alberto Ibargüen on Knight Blog, 3/8/2015

"In Miami, new funding and new beginnings in the arts" - press release, 3/8/2015

The funding will benefit both established institutions and grassroots groups, to help them innovate, engage and bring South Florida together through the arts. It includes support for three key arts institutions and for the continuation of the Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide contest that, over the past eight years, has helped bring 240 innovative arts ideas to life.

“Great art defines and lifts the soul of a community. The arts create a sense of place and help bind us to each other with common experience.  They help us explain the way we feel and represent who we are,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “Knight’s goal is to help build the community we all want to live in, a community where art is general and available to everyone, in all of our neighborhoods.”

In addition to continuing the local Knight Arts Challenge, the South Florida investment includes $17.5 million in support for leading cultural institutions to engage and inspire audiences:

Pérez Art Museum Miami ($5 million): Since opening just a year ago, the museum has exceeded attendance expectations and established itself as South Florida’s premiere visual arts institution. New Knight funding will go towards commissioning works by international artists for the museum’s project galleries. The funding ensures these artists have a way to engage with the South Florida community.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami ($5 million): In its first year of operation, ICA Miami has developed an international reputation for scholarly exhibitions and programs featuring the leading artists of our time. Located in the Miami Design District, ICA Miami is at the heart of the community’s conversation on art and culture. Knight support will fund cutting-edge contemporary art by making possible at least three exhibitions a year by emerging or underrepresented artists.

University of Miami, Frost School of Music ($7.5 million): The Frost School of Music consistently ranks in the top 20 programs in the country. Through its pioneering initiatives and curricula, the School prepares students with the most rigorous and relevant musical training. The university will build a new recital hall incorporating the latest state of the art technology.  This Recital Hall will be a space for collaboration, experimentation, teaching, rehearsing and performances, in keeping with its vision.

Continuing the Knight Arts Challenge ($7.5 million): Each year, the challenge asks everyone in South Florida for ideas to enhance the South Florida arts. The challenge has just three rules: Projects must be about the arts; take place in or benefit South Florida; and match Knight’s funding.

The best ideas receive Knight Foundation funds. Anyone can apply: The challenge purposefully seeks out nontraditional grantees. In fact, more than 10,000 ideas have been received over the past eight years. More than half of these ideas came from individuals, businesses and small organizations that don’t have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

“In a truly creative city like ours, everyone should be able to participate and to see their dream projects turn into a reality,” said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president for arts. “We are glad that the challenge can be the fuel that helps bring these ideas to fruition.”

The success of the South Florida challenge inspired Arts Challenges in four other cities around the country. With Knight Foundation’s new commitment, the South Florida challenge will offer funding to organizations of all sizes – from businesses to individual artists – through 2018.

Previous Knight funding for local institutions launched a new media program that includes the signature “Wallcasts” at the acclaimed New World Symphony campus, helps present Ibero-American films at the Miami International Film Festival, and is bringing every Miami-Dade third-grader to the Pérez Art Museum Miami.  The approach is two-pronged: Knight Foundation aims to open up institutions to more South Floridians with large grants, while the Arts Challenge ensures that smaller, grassroots efforts fuel and refresh the arts scene.

Knight Foundation also announced today a transition in leadership: Arts leader Victoria Rogers will join the foundation as its new vice president for arts on May 1. Rogers, the New World Symphony’s executive vice president, will succeed Dennis Scholl, who led the program from its 2009 launch to national prominence.

For more on Knight Foundation’s arts initiative and to view a full list of Knight Arts Challenge winners, visit Connect on Facebook, Instagram and via @knightarts and #knightarts on Twitter. For more information about Knight Foundation’s arts program, 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


Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]