Voting is open for the South Florida Peoples Choice Award!

Knight Arts Challenge South Florida 2014 People’s Choice Awards nominees are live – Vote now via text message on your mobile device

Starting today, all you need is a cellphone to help a local artist’s dream project come to life. We just launched the Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award in South Florida, where you, the public, helps decide which of six local arts organizations receives $20,000 for their idea.

It’s a text-to-vote campaign: pick your favorite group, and text their code to 22333. You may know some of the nominees, others are newly launched. Our goal with the People’s Choice Award is to bring attention to the small and emerging groups that make South Florida such a vibrant place to live.

Here’s a bit on each of the nominees:

FATVillage Arts District: A contemporary art exhibition space in Fort Lauderdale, FATVillage showcases large-scale, interactive works. Right now, the space is only open for its monthly art walks. The prize would help FATVillage open more often, with more programming. (Text VOTE1 to 22333)

HICCUP:  The acronym stands for Hialeah Contemporary Culture Project, and the collective works to take art out of galleries and into the streets of Northwest Dade. With funding, HICCUP wants to open-up a basis of operations in Hialeah to launch its works and make the city “a place for creative action.” (Text VOTE2 to 22333)

Ife-Ile: The Afro-Cuban dance troupe wants to expand its annual dance festival, and also to create a musical that is based on the lives and influence of Cubans who came to Miami during the Mariel Boatlift.  Through its work, IFE-ILE not only provides a place for Cuban-American artists to practice their craft, but also a place to tell their own stories. (Text VOTE3 to 22333)

Key West Art and Historical Society: The group wants to take the art and history of Key West into schools. One idea, for example, is to take the works of local artist Mario Sanchez, who created scenes of the city, into classrooms as a way to understand the island’s and Monroe County’s history and culture. (Text VOTE4 to 22333)

Swampspace: This Design District gallery run by artist Oliver Sanchez wants to continue to provide an exhibition space that focuses on artistic values rather than profit. The prize would help Swampspace fund more large-scale exhibitions and allow artists to bring their big ideas to fruition (Text VOTE5 to 22333)

Mexican American Council: This long-time community group works to reduce the drop out rate and increase cultural opportunities for Mexican-Americans in South Dade. With funding, the council hopes to open a mariachi academy for students where they can both learn to play instruments and understand Mexican culture.  (Text VOTE6 to 22333)

You can watch videos of each at Each of the nominees is a finalist in the Knight Arts Challenge. The winners of both the challenge and the People’s Choice Award will be announced Dec. 1.

Last year playwright and actor Teo Castellanos won the People’s Choice award, and used his prize to finish “Third Trinity,” a play based on the lives of his two brothers, one a Puerto Rico nationalist and the other who was jailed in Miami on drug charges. Third Trinity launched at the Miami Light Project to great reviews and just closed Saturday night.

This year, you have until Nov. 17 to text to vote – I hope you do!