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Last fall, we asked the Philadelphia arts community one simple question: “What’s your best idea for the arts in Philadelphia?”  A record-breaking 1,752 people responded with inspiring ideas, and today 63 have been named as finalists.

We believe the arts inspire and enrich communities.  That’s why the citywide Knight Arts Challenge is providing new support to Philadelphia’s steadily rising arts scene over the next three years.

Read on below for the full list of finalists and their ideas.  First-year winners will be announced in the spring.

We congratulate the finalists and thank everyone who submitted an idea!

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 18, 2011 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced the finalists of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia, a new three-year, $9 million initiative to fund the best ideas for the arts in Philadelphia.

The 63 finalists – which include museums, dance and theater companies, community groups and individual artists – rose above a field of 1,752 applicants.  Philadelphians set a record for number of submissions in a single year for the challenge. The program originated in Miami in 2008.

The full list of finalists is included below and available online at KnightArts.org. Knight Foundation will announce the first-year winners in the spring.

Building on the momentum of the city’s arts scene, the Knight Arts Challenge seeks out innovative projects to inspire and enrich Philadelphia’s communities by asking one simple question: What’s your best idea for the arts in Philadelphia?

“We opened this question to the entire community, and we were wowed by the response we received,” says Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts. “We’re looking forward to deepening this conversation about the arts with Philadelphia residents as we continue the challenge over the next three years.”

Knight’s Philadelphia Program Director, Donna Frisby-Greenwood said, “The number and quality of the ideas submitted clearly illustrate Philadelphia’s vibrant creativity and its passion for the arts.”

The challenge has just three rules: The idea must be about art, must take place in or benefit Philadelphia, and winners must find funds (within a year) to match Knight Foundation’s grant.  Applications were open to anyone in the region and were accepted online at KnightArts.org.

The Knight Arts Challenge began in 2008 in Miami, where the initiative is now in its third year. Philadelphia is only the second city in which Knight is offering this program.

For more on Knight Foundation’s arts program, visit KnightArts.org.  Philadelphians can also learn more and share ideas with the community on the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia Facebook page here.  Knight Foundation can be found on Facebook here.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia 2011 Finalists

African American Museum in Philadelphia: to share the unifying power of the arts by showcasing commissioned dance and gospel performances through free weekly concerts at the museum’s Seventh Street Plaza.

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture: to highlight Arab classical music by creating a unique Arab music concert series with a resident ensemble.

American Urban Collective: to engage talented, at-risk youth in the musical arts by establishing a self-sustaining recording studio and selecting 30 young people to write, record and promote original music under expert guidance.

Art-Reach: to engage underserved audiences in the arts by celebrating Art-Reach’s 25th anniversary with 25 free community concerts in different neighborhoods to reach nursing homes, after-school programs and disabled adults.
Art Sanctuary: to attract youth to opera by developing a program where students collaborate with professionals to write culturally relevant storylines for a unique hip hop opera.

Arts in Schools Collaborative: to help instill confidence and grace in Philadelphia’s children by offering a chance for fifth graders to take low-cost ballroom dancing lessons and then perform for the public.

Asian Arts Initiative: to encourage artistic development in Philadelphia’s Chinatown by creating a multidisciplinary office, performance and gallery space for a diverse group of arts organizations.

Astral Artists: to spotlight distinctive voices in classical music and engage new audiences by celebrating composers who are exploring their African, Asian and Latin-American cultures through their music.

The Barnes Foundation: to expand the reach of the foundation’s art collection by creating an app for download and a printed guide that highlight and contextualize works.

BalletX: to expand the cultural experience of ballet audiences by adding mini-performances of dance, comedy, music and the spoken word during the intermission of BalletX’s 18 seasonal performances.

Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra: to promote classical music by creating a free summer series where participants take part in fun, mini conducting lessons in front of professional musicians and a live audience.

City of Philadelphia, Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy: to strengthen City Hall’s role as a cultural center by bringing free music, dance and spoken word performances to the building.

Community Education Center: to celebrate the African arts by bringing the renowned festival Dance Africa to Philadelphia.

Crane Old School: to strengthen the city’s art scene by completing the renovation of a historic school designed as a center for cultivating the visual and performing arts.

Create In Situ: to increase interaction with the riverfront neighborhood near I-95 by creating a solar-powered, sensor-driven lighted gateway along an underpass.

Dance/USA Philadelphia: to bring live dance performances to public places and broader audiences by making available a portable sprung dance floor that can be used by dance companies throughout the region at festivals and other events.

Darla Jackson: to facilitate the safe creation and public exhibition of the artwork of Philadelphia’s sculptors by starting a “sculpture gym,” where artists can access heavy-duty tools and storage space and get one-on-one help with projects.

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation: to help transform the Delaware Waterfront by presenting music, theater and dance performances in the area’s new parks and trails.
Fairmount Park Art Association:  to bring together a diverse, on-the-street audience by creating a public art event of roving searchlights that will transform the night sky in wintertime.

The Franklin Institute: to engage children and families in the celebration of science through art by providing interactive, theatrical performances with scientific themes at the two-week-long Philadelphia Science Festival.

Fresh Artists: to engage inner city youth in nurturing artistic talent and marketable job skills by creating a print shop with teen apprentices printing their own art and presenting it in an annual exhibition.

Gershman Y: to broaden Philadelphia’s music scene and expand cultural audiences by producing the first Jewish Music Festival, sharing the rich heritage of Jewish music in venues around the city.

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance: to inspire a life-long engagement with the arts by presenting Philadelphia 10th graders with free admission to participating cultural institutions for one year.

Hidden City Philadelphia: to reconnect residents and visitors to Philadelphia’s urban landscape with an interactive festival that commissions temporary, site-specific art projects at historic landmarks.

Indy Hall: to strengthen the city’s creative community by turning an entire city block into a creative co-working community center.

Intercultural Journeys: to encourage interaction and dialogue among Philadelphia’s African American, Arab and Jewish communities by producing workshops and public multimedia events hosted by the different communities and featuring their local artists.

Isaiah Zagar: to generate interest in art education and mosaic design by completing a project to turn a 10,000-square-foot South Philadelphia warehouse into a Mosaic Museum and teaching center.

Jason LaMonaca: to inspire the athletic art form of skateboarding and draw the community to an outdoor conversation piece by creating a series of skateable art pieces.

Kathleen Bonanno: to promote the creation and appreciation of poetry, plays and performance works by opening Musehouse: A Center for the Literary Arts in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy neighborhood.

Kimmel Center: to use the arts to revitalize neighborhoods by transforming a vacant lot into a community center for performance art.

Lantern Theater Company: to promote Philadelphia as a cultural center by producing a new performance piece by a celebrated local artist and taking it on tour following its local debut.

Library Company of Philadelphia/History Making Productions: to create a greater civic awareness of and appreciation for the city by producing a multiformat series of documentaries that tell the story of Philadelphia.

LiveConnections.org: to show an expanded and diverse audience how music connects cultures by commissioning innovative concerts for Philadelphia’s World Café Live that will be simulcast to new audiences.

Mann Center for the Performing Arts: to attract new audiences to classical music by bridging genres and generations with a Cross-Over Classical summer series in a relaxed outdoor setting.

Mighty Writers: to inspire community pride by creating Sound and Fury, an audio documentary, interactive website and public panel discussions about the role of black Philadelphia radio from the 1950-80s.

Nato Thompson: To inspire dialogue between local and international artists by creating a foreign artist residency program.

New Kensington Community Development Corporation: to strengthen the cultural and economic fabric of the Kensington community by celebrating the talents of local artists at the annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.

Nichole Canuso Dance Company: to broaden people’s understanding and experience of art and dance by turning the audience into a participant in an aural and visual performance journey called The Garden.

Opera Company of Philadelphia: to unite Philadelphia in a celebration of arts and culture by displaying – on a giant video screen at Independence Mall – the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s opening night performance of Bizet’s Carmen.

Pennsylvania Ballet: to bring world-class ballet to Philadelphia residents young and old through a series of family-friendly, outdoor summer performances.

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society: to remind residents of the power of the arts by creating “Take Your Chamber Musician to Work!” days where performers play unannounced at offices, schools and hospitals.

Philadelphia Cinema Alliance: to spotlight African-American filmmakers by creating what will be the city’s only African-American film festival.

The Philadelphia Education Fund:  to engage youth in the arts by creating Myartsrising.org, a comprehensive, interactive online platform for arts education. Philadelphia Film Society: to promote the growth of Philadelphia’s film industry by organizing a contest where filmmakers incorporate one of 20 iconic local symbols in a short film.

Philadelphia Folksong Society: to bring more cultural opportunities to underserved communities by expanding the seminal Philadelphia Folk Festival into the city’s urban core.

Philadelphia History Museum: to celebrate and give cultural context to Philadelphia’s craft tradition through weekly live demonstrations by contemporary craft artists.

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe: to nurture emerging artists by creating a salon night in the festival’s new headquarters where artists will present short excerpts of their work.

Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates: to help transform the urban landscape by hiring a world-renowned street artist team to develop a major project in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Museum of Art: to engage young writers by allowing public high school students to take guided tours of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and have their reactions published.

The Philadelphia Orchestra: to expand concert content and accessibility by creating smart phone apps that supply real-time history and context about live performances.

Philadelphia Theatre Company: to enhance Philadelphia’s reputation as a leading home for new play development by producing an annual festival of new works.

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra: to make orchestral music more available and to offer high-quality teaching programs by expanding Tune Up Philly, an intensive after-school music program for elementary school students in Southwest Philadelphia.

Philly Youth Poetry Movement: to influence and nurture young residents through poetry by establishing a gathering space offering cultural workshops, as well as homework tutoring and life-skills mentoring.

Pig Iron Theatre Company: to strengthen the contemporary performing arts scene by launching a two-year training program for actors and directors.

Please Touch Museum: to strengthen Philadelphia’s reputation as an arts destination by producing a weeklong multicultural, multidisciplinary arts festival featuring family-friendly, live entertainment and interactive experiences.

Taller Puertorriqueo: to create personal cultural experiences that connect audiences across cultures and disciplines by producing a series of monthly outdoor performances in the heart of Latino Philadelphia with live feeds to YouTube and Facebook.
Temple Performing Arts Center: to involve and educate public school children in the arts by exposing them to performances and establishing an after-school program where they interact with artists.

theartblog.org: to broaden participation and excitement in the visual-art scene by creating a smart phone app that gives a comprehensive, up-to-date listing of Philadelphia art galleries.

Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia: to expand participation in Philly’s theatrical arts by launching a new audience engagement initiative that includes helping actors interact with residents in their everyday lives.

Tiny Dynamite Productions: to broaden theater audiences by producing A Play, A Pie and A Pint, a U.K. performance phenomenon where residents can stop by after work to enjoy a one-act play, a pie and a beverage for $15.

University of the Arts: to transform Philadelphia’s underutilized South Concourse and inspire citizens to get involved in its redevelopment by sponsoring an international design competition for the walkable area beneath South Broad Street.

Vox Populi: to inspire the community by offering an innovative arts series, Spectrum, that crosses the traditional boundaries of visual art, performance, music, film, video, dance and theater.

WXPN Radio, University of Pennsylvania: to build audiences and appreciation for Philadelphia’s vibrant music scene by creating a permanent virtual space for the local music community and producing a concert series and a collection of Web-based musical recordings and videos.


# # #

Media Contacts:

Megan Wendell, Canary Promotion, Philadelphia Knight Foundation Representative, 215-690-4065; megan@canarypromo.com

Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation,
305-908-2677; fest@knightfoundation.org

20 Responses to “Sixty-Three finalists named in Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia”

  1. kevin tibbets says:

    where are the artists, you know, the folks who make art?

    • Joseph F Ruggiero says:

      All of the finalists are fine organizations. But they don`t need money for projects. The Knight Arts Challenge is not seeking new talent, new ideas. There are artis that we have not heard from because there projects are not beeing fund.We need to search out new artis with projects, new unknow prduction co. It is disapointing that you missed this oppurtunity. Hope you can have a expanded vision for the future.

  2. Jude says:

    These finalists are all mostly rich and established cultural institutions, not individuals with worthy projects. The Kimmel Center does NOT need money; the Philadelphia Museum of Art does not need money; the Please Touch Museum does NOT need money; Pig Iron THeater Company does NOT need money. Shame on the Knight Arts CHallenge Grant! Most of this money is going to those who already HAVE. Shame. Shame.

    • Marika Lynch says:

      Jude,
      Thanks for your comment. We had 63 finalists, some of them are big institutions. That’s a given in a city that has so many outstanding cultural institutions with decades of history. Take a look at the rest though, and you’ll find many other individuals and small groups representing independent artists. We were impressed with the innovative projects they pitched, and look forward to announcing the winners in the spring.
      Dennis Scholl, vp arts, Knight Foundation

      • Alexis says:

        Marika, I invite you to take a look at the list yourself. The majority of the winners are large and comparatively wealthy institutions. The beauty of the Knight Foundation challenge was that it was open to individuals and smaller groups who are shut out of most funding opportunities. The shame is so many of the finalists are the big institutions that have need, but have many other options for fulfilling that need.

  3. Sandra Milevski says:

    Congratulations to all the finalists from the Philadelphia Latvian Society, these proposals are simply fabulous!

  4. Will you share the names of the jurors for the initiative?

  5. Nan Gilbert says:

    Proud to be a Philadelphian.

  6. TYRONE FRISBY says:

    I entered an idea to create art and benefit others in a event that would bring,attention,interest,to philadelphia from around the world.
    For a unlimited amount of artist to paint and sell and raise money for charities.this is a common event but in different medium.I.E.running a merithon.We as artist get exposure and money also charities get exposure and money every one eats and be happy! Actually creating art live for days straight has never been done that i can re-call.I will end with this.Money needed for this idea is buying supplies for everyone who likes to do art ,and it will inspire others to do art.. everyone is a artist it just has to be brough out of them. ART IS LOVE AND LOVE IS ART!

  7. Rick says:

    First of all, congratulations to the “winners”. The only thing that makes me sad to see the names on this list are the obvious exclusions. I had a pretty good idea what this list was going to look like and being proved right is hardly satisfying. Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.

  8. Howard Frampton says:

    So many monied organizations getting these grants – wasn’t this supposed to be for those who are unable to obtain needed funds through the usual channels?

  9. johnny says:

    Our group put together several submissions. Our last ID numbers were in the 10,100 range, so we have a hard time believing that only 1700 submissions were made.

    We counted only 7 of the 63 winners with ideas that deal specifically with the African-American community, in a city that is just over 50% black. That seems very low. I agree with the others who say that there were just too many big names included — institutions that just don’t need money or who ALWAYS seem to get the funding. The “winners” seem to be those who are politically safe, as though the Knight Foundation asked politicians or the media or bloggers who should be funded. We were warned that this might not be a contest for just anybody, but that only certain groups and individuals would be rewarded.

    I think I’m objective (maybe not) when I say that our ideas were so much more evolved, relevant and LASTING than most of the institutional ones selected. We proposed creating PERMANENT spaces/events that would stimulate the visual and performance arts in Philadelphia indefinitely — particularly among the youth, formerly incarcerated, elderly, and African-Americans. We have our own building, it’s fully licensed, we have lots of arts/cultural ties and could have easily made all of these things happen — with a little financial support. We’ll see what we can do without Knight.

    We’re very happy for the non-institutional selections. Hopefully, most of them make it through the final round.

  10. frank says:

    Congrats to the finalists and thanks to the Knight Foundation for coming to Philly.

    It would have been nice to see a lot more small businesses and artists in here. Most of these are large organizations that are already well funded. This could have been a great start for a lot of artists. It would have been great to see something new & innovative come to the city.

  11. Katie says:

    Boo. I lost track a little, but I think theres only like 12 of those that are either individuals, or something I hadn’t heard of. The BARNES FOUNDATION? Are you kidding me? Boo on the Knight foundation for misleading us into thinking we had a chance.

  12. FarMcKon says:

    I have to reluctantly agree with some of the comments above on the balance of projects, much of the list is the usual suspects in the Philadelphia.

    I applaud the Knight Foundation for giving such grants, and congrats to all of the finalists. Still. I’m going to keep hope for some more eclectic and diverse results in future finalists listings.

  13. Phil Smith says:

    Nato Thompson does not live or primarily work in Philadelphia. Why is he a finalist for Knight support intended exclusively for the Philadelphia art community?

  14. sal says:

    Last year Nato Thompson was an external reviewer for the Pew Arts Fellowship which is for Philadelphia artists. To maintain objectivity of the reviews it was stipulated that the reviewers must be from outside of the Philadelphia area/not local. How can Nato Thompson live/work outside of the Philadelphia area as a Pew reviewer and be a Philadelphia local who is eligible for Philadelphia Knight foundation money?

  15. Theresa says:

    Nato Thompson has lived in Philadelphia since August, 2010 with his fiance.

  16. Emma says:

    I have just had the opportunity to read the comments above and I thought our story might inspire some of those who are disheartened. Our tiny company, Tiny Dynamite Productions have never received any funding from the usual sources, are virtually unknown in Philadelphia as we are relatively new and yet we are beyond grateful to have been selected as one of the finalists. It is certainly a humbling experience to be up there with the PTC and the Lantern amongst others but it gives me hope that the good people at Knights ARE looking for a diverse cross section of organizations, both culturally and also in stature. I hope that all those who were not so successful this time, who feel that the balance is out, submit even greater ideas in the next round.

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