Two years ago, the Knight Foundation roared into town with news of their $9 Million Knight Arts Challenge for Philadelphia. This year, the second in the 3-year Challenge, sees 35 winners whose projects will be funded by the Knight awards, which are matching grants that require local funds equal to the Knight amounts. The winners were chosen from 1,260 applicants to the contest, with winners from visual, performing, music and theater arts as well as some in more unusual pursuits. With this round of awards, $5.4 million have been awarded for 71 ideas. The third year of the Challenge opens in the fall. Public community projects outdoors trended big among the winners, in grants that reward not only established organizations but even individuals who have great ideas. We spoke with Dennis Scholl, Knight’s vice president for arts, who gave us some insights into this years Challenge. (Note: artblog was a year one recipient for our artblog Art Safaris project.)
Libby and Roberta: What sorts of things interested you?
Dennis: There’s a lot of outdoor stuff this time. If you can’t get people in the museum, bring the work to the people.
Pop-up jazz performances by AMLA. They have a Jazzmobile with a portable stage. …
Philadelphia is such a cultural-asset-rich community. How can we use the assets of larger organizations to benefit emerging artists?
The space in the Kimmel Center could be turned into a blackbox theater with a residency program for emerging arts groups. …Or the Hacktory, a teaching corps of techies…with a technical art curriculum for local artists. That to me is the future–art and technology.
How do Philadelphia’s projects compare with Miami?
Philadelphia got the benefit of some of the learning we achieved in Miami, so in Philly we looked closer at a younger organization where even a modest amount of grant-making could make a difference to them. We are looking for the sweet spot of where to make a difference.
Was there anything out of left field that surprised you. And did you fund it?
Oh, yeah, we funded it. You know me. Franklin’s Paine Skate Park–I thought it was really really lovely. …And the Hip H’Opera, which is a collaboration of the Art Sanctuary with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Among the winners in visual arts are:
Asian Arts Initiative for Neighborhood Spotlight Series – $45,000
Center City District for New public art at Dilworth Plaza – $400,000
Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse Project for In the Light: A Skyspace by James Turrell – $80,000
Erica Hawthorne for Small-But-Mighty Arts Grant – $60,000
Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund for Skateable City – $100,000
Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation for Midnight Madness – $350,000
Little Berlin for Little Berlin Fairgrounds – $10,000
The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design for Urban Drive-In with DIY Food Culture – $20,000
Sean Stoops for animated Architecture: 3D Video Mapping Projections on Historic Sites – $20,000
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center for Bring to Light: Philadelphia – $35,000
The Center for Emerging Visual Artists for Made in Philly – $25,000
The Clay Studio for Guerilla Mug Assault – $15,000
The Fabric Workshop and Museum for Daniel Arsham: Performative Architecture – $80,000
The Hactory for Corps of Interactive Artist Teachers – $40,000
For a full list with project descriptions go to the Knight website.