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

Dec 1, 2014

Visitors at the FATVillage Projects gallery in Fort Lauderdale.
Credit Mitchell Zachs / 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.