How to present a winning idea for the Knight Arts Challenge

Arts / Article

Detroiters who turned out for the Town Hall meeting on the Knight Arts Challenge last week received lots of tips on how to best present their ideas.  Here’s what Knight Foundation Arts Associate Tatiana Hernandez shared with the crowd, many of whom are preparing their applications for the challenge offering a share of $3 million to cultural projects that enrich and engage the city.

To make your idea stand out:

  • Create a catchy title. Come up with something that grabs the readers’ attention.
  • Do not write the 150-word application in isolation. Share it with friends and strangers. If they have questions, then you still have work to do.
  • Make the 150 words about the idea. Don’t try to explain the long-term process, just explain the idea.
  • Make sure you put the community first. Think about how your idea will be in service to and benefit the city of Detroit. Do not start the application with “I want to. Instead, think about how it will impact Detroit.
  • Be bold. The challenge is for big, visionary ideas that are authentically Detroit.
  • Don’t worry about the money. You shouldn’t worry about finding matching funds for the grant until you become a finalist. Don’t let that aspect of the contest discourage you.
  • Submit your application early. The readers view the applications in the order they are submitted. You’ll want them to see it when they are still fresh.

Here are some questions that were asked several times throughout a series of community meetings and the Town Hall meeting in Detroit:

  • Q: How many ideas can I submit? A: As many as you want, but be mindful that Knight Foundation is looking for the best ideas.
  • Q: Who are the readers who will be reviewing my idea(s)? A: A panel of 12 people read every single application. Most are Detroiters who are involved and/or knowledgeable of the arts community.
  • Q: How do you define Detroit? A: The project must take place in or benefit the city of Detroit. We define Detroit as the perimeter of the city.

Be sure to check out Tatiana’s post last week about how to form your idea. And don’t forget to apply by April 22!

By Erica Perdue, communications consultant for the Knight Arts Challenge in Detroit