By Michael Hodges
The Detroit arts scene just got a big shot in the arm.
Miami-based Knight Foundation announced Tuesday it will invest $19.25 million over five years into Detroit arts-and-culture institutions and a host of local artists.
It's a two-pronged effort. The foundation will distribute $10.25 million among the city's top seven cultural institutions. The remaining $9 million will fund the Knight Arts Challenge competition, which will kick off in March and run three times in as many years to support the best ideas for local art projects, whether from organizations or individuals.
For the competition, entrants' proposals must have something to do with the arts and be based in or focused on Detroit. Grant recipients will need to find matching funds. Knight has underwritten similar contests in Miami and Philadelphia. Dennis Scholl, Knight vice-president for arts, said he expects about 50 projects a year to win funding.
The gifts, Scholl said, reflects the excitement Knight sees in Detroit. "The Detroit arts community just feels lit up from its grass roots and the challenge gives everyone a chance to play," he said.
Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson called the $19.25 million "an absolutely spectacular development that will solidify the growing reputation Detroit enjoys as a vibrant and supportive environment for the arts."
The Knight Foundation hopes to cement connections between the seven arts institutions and the wider community. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Arab American National Museum each will receive $750,000, while $1 million each will go to both the Sphinx Organization and the Michigan Opera Theatre. The largest grants, $2.25 million, will go to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit School of Arts.
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.