By Sherri Welch
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has committed $10.25 million in grants to shore up leading Detroit area cultural institutions and encourage them to engage audiences in new ways. Separately, it also pledged $9 million to fund a local art contest for three years, encouraging creative art projects that come from anywhere in the community.
Knight Foundation leaders say the two efforts play to Detroit's growing notoriety in the arts world.
"There's sort of this organic noise that we keep hearing (abou tDetroit,)" that's driven in large part, by culture and the arts, said Dennis Scholl, vice president, arts.
Despite all of the regions' and cultural institutions' difficulties "there are a number of institutions that kept over and over again finding a way to both present artistic excellence (and) also engage their audiences in different ways," he said.
"And that's the thing we're most excited about."
The organizations receiving grants under the Knight Arts Challenge are:
* $2.25 million to the Detroit Institute of Arts to experiment with new programs that take its art out into the community, such as its Inside/Out program.
* $2.25 million to the Detroit School of Arts to build a pipeline of future artists by inviting professionals from prominent cultural institutions to mentor and teach students.
* $2.25 million to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to further expand the audience for classical music through expanded webcasts and mobile content.
* $1 million, Michigan Opera Theatre to bring opera performances into the community and to commission a new opera based on the city's rich cultural heritage.
* $1 million to the Sphinx Organization to support its annual Sphinx Competition inDetroitwhich develops young, classical musicians of color.
* $750,000 to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to use the arts to foster an interest in reading by incorporating interactive cultural experience as part of the Children's Book Fair.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.