Articles by

Amanda Thompson

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    The June 16 deadline for arts funding in Macon, Georgia, San Jose, California, Philadelphia and Charlotte is fast approaching. I’ve loved hearing from potential grantees over the past two weeks during the open office hours and have received lots of great proposals across the four cities. We’re excited to read the applications. Through my conversations with applicants, several themes have arisen, and I wanted to share some important tips to help applicants submit a strong proposal. As I mentioned when we opened the application period for this program, one of our priorities is to make sure residents in our cities have access to and engage with high-quality arts experiences. We want to strengthen the overall arts ecosystem in these cities. Keep these two goals top of mind, in addition to the following tips.
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    This week, the Knight Arts team will gather in San Jose to meet with our grantees, celebrate their successes and begin a conversation on how to build networks that support artists living and working in San Jose. We are also announcing the latest artists and arts organizations to receive Knight funding. In San Jose, we have invested in great ideas from arts organizations whose projects reflect the community’s diversity, identity and innovation.
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    This week, the Knight Arts team will gather in Philadelphia to meet with our grantees, celebrate their successes over the past year and watch our artists in action from Opera Philadelphia to the Philly Fringe Festival and more. We are also announcing the latest artists and arts organizations to receive Knight funding. In Philadelphia, we have begun to to focus at looking at ways to support the growth of individual artists, artistic work that is grounded in a specific community and the impact of technology on the production and distribution of art.
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    Above: Image by photojournalist Carl Juste of a migrant detained at Guantanomo Bay Naval Base displayed at The Swamp, from his book “Havana and Haiti: Two Cultures, One Community.” Photo by Michael Bolden. Last week marked my third month as a Miami resident and as the arts program officer for Knight Foundation. The past three months have been a whirlwind of meeting new people, learning to navigate Miami’s transit system as a resident of downtown and immersing myself in the arts and culture scene. The Knight employee manual does not define “informed and engaged,” “cultural authenticity” or “audience engagement”—words that we use to guide our grantmaking. Those words came alive for me at The Swamp at Miami Book Fair throughout last week. Knight Foundation was the premier sponsor of The Swamp because the program, a Knight Arts Challenge winner, met our goals of engaging local audiences with a diversity of artistic programming that reflects the Miami community. From dance to poetry readings and live music, there were opportunities from Sunday to Sunday to enjoy live performances right in the heart of downtown Miami. The Swamp and its companion space, The Porch, turned a boring parking lot into a vibrant space with an indoor stage, food trucks, picnic tables and games (Jenga, anyone?). It was a space designed to step out of the bustle of the fair and engage with your friends and family in a variety of activities. The indoor space had comfortable couches and chairs, art installations, a stage and dramatic lighting. The whole space invited attendees to relax, connect and enjoy the show. Book Fair co-founder Mitchell Kaplan. Photo by Michael Bolden. On Tuesday night, I joined 90 other people to be a part of the World’s Smallest Poetry Reading hosted by O, Miami. Eight authors read poetry selections to attendees one by one in a tent set up on the stage. I loved the poetry, but what I loved more was the sense of community. Conversation flowed back and forth between artists from Bookleggers, Sweat Records and O, Miami with attendees and each other. There was a palpable sense of support and pride for the cultural scene in Miami. On Friday night, after being exposed to a ridiculous amount of deep thoughts at the Knight-supported panel by National Book Award Finalists I headed over to The Swamp to drink a beer from Biscayne Brewery and enjoy some improv. Battlecat, the improv team from Miamah Comedy, had me laughing with references to all things literary.