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From Weird Miami To Youth Mariachi, Knight Foundation Awards $2.29 Million In Grants

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Mitchell Zachs
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Knight Foundation

Almost 50 South Florida artists and arts organizations received $2.29 million in grants on Monday to help them build everything from a Stiltsville artist-in-residency program to a Homestead mariachi academy.

The seventh annual Knight Arts Challenge – a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – handed out 47 awards, ranging from $10,000 to $150,000. Since the project began in 2008, soliciting ideas from thousands of groups and individuals, the challenge has distributed almost $25 billion to promote arts and culture in this region.

Among this year’s biggest winners:

●Miami Design District gallery BFI (Bas Fisher Invitational, home of the Weird Miami tours), which garnered $150,000 for art exhibition exchanges with galleries around the world;

●Miami arts organization Cannonball (formerly LegalArt), $150,000 to support micro-grants for experimental artist projects;

●HistoryMiami museum, $150,000 to launch a photography center showcasing images of Miami and exhibitions that document life in South Florida;

●Opa-locka Community Development Corp., $100,000 to promote Opa-locka as a cultural destination and turn one of its thoroughfares into a large-scale public art project.

Others include local bookstore Books & Books, with $80,000 to aid the online streaming and archiving of author events; Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage Arts District, $80,000 to expand its contemporary and experimental art project space; the Mexican-American Council in Homestead, $60,000 to create a children’s mariachi music academy; and Miami art curator Elizabeth Cerejido, $60,000 to facilitate an exhibition exchange program between Miami and Havana artists.

“Our aspiration continues to be to make art general in Miami,” Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen said in a statement. The foundation said this year’s recipients highlight three main areas: strengthening literary culture (including a “Super Bowl of Poetry” competition in Miami-Dade and Broward schools), promoting South Florida’s cultural diversity (including a youth institute for Haitian rara music) and activating spaces in downtown Miami (including roving musicians at public plazas).

In addition to the grants, the Knight Arts Challenge also named a $20,000 People’s Choice Award for small and emerging arts groups as part of a public text-to-vote competition. The winner was the Key West Art and Historical Society.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.