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Knight night kicks off $9M Challenge for great ideas in Philadelphia arts


A mix of suits and arty types gathered in Old City Tuesday for a kickoff party at Trust celebrating the Knight Foundation’s $9 million challenge for great ideas for Philadelphia arts. Representatives of the city’s art groups gathered, swallowed some sliders, and listened as Dennis Scholl, Vice President for Arts, Knight Foundation, spoke about “the contest.”  That’s what he calls the $9M Knight Arts Challenge program for Philadelphia’s arts scene, and just talking about it made Scholl twinkle like Santa Claus. The money, to be spread over three years, is available for “great ideas” in the arts. The application is open to all who have an idea and can pitch it in 150 words on the Knight website. The application site opened Oct. 5 at 10 am, Scholl said, and at 10:05 they received their first Philadelphia application–way to go, Philly! Apply here.  Applications close Oct. 31.

Mayor Nutter and Dennis Scholl speaking about the Knight Challenge for Philadelphia

Mayor Nutter spoke briefly about the importance of the arts. “Philly is a hot town,” he said, listing as examples of hot-i-tude the arts, the Phillies and the Eagles. As for the 76ers, “I think they call this a rehabilitation year.” And then he went on to say that arts and culture are a bigger financial engine for the city than all the sports combined.

Audience at Trust the other night. Everyone we talked with is excited about applying with their great idea.

In a crowd of around 250, we saw a good range of folks from the visual arts institutions and the alternative spaces. We know the dance and theatre community was represented but we are not in that posse so can’t drop those names. But here’s some of who we saw or spoke with in the visual arts:

Lorie Mertes of the Galleries at Moore, and Happy Fernandez, President of Moore College, John Caperton of the Print Center, Travis Heck of Jolie Laide Gallery, who reminded us the artist James Hyde is speaking today at the Academy at noon. Lorene Carey of Art Sanctuary, Alan Edmunds of Brandywine Workshop, Dana Osborn of Great and Terrible Collective, David Dempewolf of Marginal Utility, James Johnson of Vox Populi, David Brigham of PAFA, Kelani Nichole of Little Berlin, John McInerney of Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Rachel Zimmerman of Inliquid, Paula Marincola of PEI, Nick Kripal of Crane Arts, Meg Wise of Fleisher Art Memorial, Dan Schimmel of Breadboard, Jean-Jacques Tiziou whose airport mural is in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Hilary Jay of Design Philadelphia, Carise Mitch of the Art Institute, Shelly Yanoff of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and Gretchen Elyse Walker who runs the Picasso Project for Philadelphia schools under PCCY.

And of course Gary Steuer, Director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (we call him the art czar), MC’d.

More about the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia:

No idea is too large or too small, as long as it follows three basic rules:
1. Your idea is about the arts.
2. Your project takes place in or benefits Philadelphia.
3. You find other funding to match the Knight Foundation grant. (Don’t worry – you’ll have a year after being awarded the grant to raise matching funds.)
Visit to submit your best idea.
Applications will be accepted from October 5 – 31. 
Finalists will be announced in early 2011.
 Winners will be announced in Spring of 2011.

More pictures at roberta’s flickr