Articles by

marika.lynch

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    Photos are courtesy of Miami Dade College/Cristian Lazzari  With the Knight Arts Challenge, we set out to hear arts ideas from all corners of communities – not just the usual districts and downtowns where the arts tend to thrive. As a way to reach out to more neighborhoods, Knight has scheduled a series of Community Conversations in the four challenge cities. These Community Conversations will take place in Detroit, St. Paul and Akron in April, just after the challenge opens on April 4. The list is below. (Miami’s Community Conversations began in March and continue into April.) The events will provide a look at past winners, the challenge timeline, plus tips on applying. In each challenge city, Knight has also scheduled office hours or informal gatherings at coffee shops where a Knight Foundation staff member will give one-on-one feedback on challenge ideas. Those events are casual, and will be on a first-come, first served basis. You can find the information below as well. We hope you’ll join us – and that you’ll get ready to submit your best ideas for the arts April 4 – May 2 at knightarts.org.
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    Marcus Blake at FoodSpark Miami's fall event. Credit: Lisa Renee Foto. The 2016 Public Space Challenge, an initiative of The Miami Foundation, kicks off March 15, seeking ideas that create, improve or activate Miami-Dade’s public gathering places. To get ready for the launch, we checked in with past winner Naomi Ross about her project FoodSpark Miami, which is hosting an event in Hialeah March 12. This article is adapted from a post on The Miami Foundation’s blog. Greater Miami is a place of incredibly diverse peoples and cultures. But there’s one thing we have in common: We love to eat. Gather our mishmash of residents around the table to break bread and they just may get to talking, thinking about and connecting on community issues. That’s the idea behind FoodSpark Miami, a 2015 Public Space Challenge winner that will hold a pop-up community dinner and discussion on March 12 aptly named, #QuePasaHialeah. Over bites donated by local restaurants, from pastelitos de carne to vegan delicacies, the group will come up with four local issues, then break up into small groups to discuss them. Participants will play musical chairs and change topics every 20 minutes. At the end of the night, residents will compare notes with the larger group and FoodSpark will create a report to share with the broader community and civic leaders. “We want this event to be the spark that helps create a movement in Hialeah,” said founder Naomi Ross. “A movement of people who care deeply about their city and want to make it an even better place to live.” The original FoodSpark was conceived in St. Louis, Mo., in 2014 as a way to generate local ideas and connections. Ross thought it would be a perfect project for her larger effort Celebrate Diversity Miami, a community engagement initiative to build deeper connections among Miami’s many diverse neighborhoods. In addition to support from The Miami Foundation and Baptist Health South Florida through the challenge, FoodSpark is part of Ross’ K880 Emerging Cities Champion Fellowship, funded by Knight Foundation. The first FoodSpark Miami took place during DWNTWN Art Days last fall, and the next, Ross hopes, will take place in Liberty City.
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    On Saturday night in Nashville, a Knight-produced documentary on a Wynton Marsalis performance in Charlotte, N.C., won a Midsouth Emmy in the arts category. The film tells the story of a performance of a new work composed by Marsalis and performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and a 70-member gospel choir. The event took place at Charlotte’s Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. The Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem commissioned the work to commemorate its 200th anniversary. Award-winning artist Damien Sneed conducted the Charlotte performance as part of a 17-city tour. The film, produced by Miami filmmakers Marlon Johnson and Dennis Scholl, Knight’s former vice president for arts, traces the history of the Abyssinian Church and explores how Marsalis’ music follows the structure of a traditional Mass. The film features interviews with Marsalis and Sneed, and members of the band and choir discuss their interpretation of the piece and their relationship to the spiritual work as performers.
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    Starting March 16, the Knight Arts Challenge Miami is going on a road trip – to Key West, Fort Lauderdale, and a host of neighborhoods in between. In all, the challenge is holding eight community conversations ahead of the 2016 challenge, which will award a total of $2.5 million to the best ideas for the arts in South Florida. Submissions will be accepted starting April 4 at knightarts.org. Our goal at Knight is to help make art general in South Florida, and we are looking for submissions for projects that happen in all corners of our region, from Palm Beach to the Florida Keys. The community conversations are opportunities for Arts Challenge applicants to ask questions about the challenge in person, and hear from a panel of winners on how their projects are going, and their inside tips on applying. If you’re looking for more individualized feedback on your idea, our staff is holding office hours towards the end of April in Doral and Wynwood. During those times, our program staff will be at Macondo Coffee Roasters and Panther Coffee to review ideas, provide advice and answer questions. Those sessions are first come, first served. Information for all – including two sessions in Spanish – is below – as are the links to RSVP. Thanks so much to our media sponsors Art Loft/WPBT Channel 2; Miami New Times and Soul of Miami.
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    Above, Knight Arts Challenge Miami winner Ranjana Warier showcases Indian dance through the adaptation of Western fairytales. Are you ready? Starting April 4, the Knight Arts Challenge will open for applications, offering a share of $8 million to the best ideas for the arts in Miami, Detroit, St. Paul and Akron. There are a few things new about the arts challenge this year: For the first time, all four challenge cities will submit ideas during one application period: April 4 – May 2, 2016. Also, we’re answering your questions in more ways this year, through Community Conversations with Knight staff and past grantees, in addition to office hours, where we offer one-on-one feedback about your application. 
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    Above: Random Acts of Culture at Miami International Airport. Photo: Knight Foundation. Trailer for Random Acts of Culture. Some 1,300 events, almost 9 million YouTube views, and now one regional Emmy: Saturday night, a documentary on Random Acts of Culture, the Knight Foundation program that surprised people across the United States by taking performers out of the symphony halls and into the streets, won a 2015 Suncoast Emmy. The film was produced by Knight Foundation and filmmakers Dennis Scholl, former vice president for arts, and Marlon Johnson. This is Scholl and Johnson’s sixth regional Emmy together. For more than two years, Random Acts popped up in primarily eight Knight cities, hiding baritones in shoe departments, rolling xylophones down supermarket aisles and loading entire choirs onto Metro cars as a way to remind people about the importance and value of the arts in their lives. The videos of the performances went viral, including one orchestrated by Opera Philadelphia, where 600 choristers popped into a Macy’s during the holiday season and began to sing Handel’s “Messiah.” That and other videos helped recruit new fans for the company, and the singers enjoyed their moment of fame as they began to be stopped on the street.
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    Forget the magic wand: Reaching out to diverse donors takes less pixie dust and more customized outreach and relationship building, philanthropy experts said last week during a Knight Foundation webinar on how to increase minority participation in Giving Day campaigns. While many minority communities have traditions of institutional giving, they aren’t particularly familiar with the community foundations that run Giving Days. And even though these online fundraising campaigns have raised tens of millions for local nonprofits, they may not be attracting a diverse or representative set of participants, early research shows. Three speakers, Noelle Ito of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Alexandra Aquino-Fike of Hispanics in Philanthropy and Priscilla Enriquez of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, all shared their experiences in cultivating donors. You can watch the video above to learn more, or read below for top insights. The webinar was the fourth in a Knight Foundation series on advanced topics for Giving Days, part of Knight’s efforts to help community foundations democratize philanthropy and better engage donors online. You can access the entire series, for free, at givingdayplaybook.org/webinar. Here’s what the speakers shared: Start by asking questions: Ito asked Giving Day organizers to take a look at their existing campaigns before embarking on specializing outreach efforts. Consider these three questions first, she said, and the answers can help guide your planning:
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    Arts Program Director Bahia Ramos responds to questions in Akron. Akron, you have two more weeks to craft that submission for the Knight Arts Challenge, which is offering $1 million a year through 2017 for the best ideas for the arts.  The initial application is just 150 words. You’ve got this, right? IMPORTANT AKRON DATES • Sept. 8, noon - Univ. of Akron (RSVP here) • Sept. 8, 3 p.m. - Kent State Univ. (RSVP here) • Sept. 10, noon - Virtual Office Hours for Akron (RSVP here) • Sept. 14 - APPLICATION DEADLINE (apply here) To help, Arts Program Director Bahia Ramos spent three nights last week meeting with artists and creatives from around the city to answer questions, including why Knight launched this effort. The challenge’s goal, Ramos said: To fund ideas and experiments that not only inspire the people who live in Akron, but to bring people together in a way that strengthens and builds community. In doing so, Knight wants to add more momentum to the artistic activity in Akron, Ramos said. “We are not here by accident. The creative energy is bubbling up from the grassroots and institutions alike,” Ramos said. “With the challenge, we want to give a bigger voice to the energy we feel is happening here.” Here are some of the tips and insights on crafting applications that Ramos offered during the community Q&A sessions: Consider the 3 C’s of your application: Be clear, concise and compelling: You only have 150 words to fill out the initial application at knightarts.org. Make them count. “What we care about is your idea, your passion for the arts, who you are and why you feel this is a unique opportunity for the community,” Ramos said.
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    Today, Knight Foundation is launching the first Knight Arts Challenge Akron, offering $1 million to the best ideas for the arts. It’s open to everyone in the city with an arts idea – be they a nonprofit, a business or an individual artist. To help applicants, I sat down with Arts Program Director Bahia Ramos to talk about what Akron residents can expect. (Above photo: YEPAW concert by Garrick Black.) Q. Knight Foundation has brought the Challenge to several cities. Why is Akron ripe for this kind of initiative? A. Akron has a great ecosystem of lovely anchor arts institutions, plus a lot of great cultural start-ups. We look at things like the Akron Art Museum and events like Porch Rokr, and you start to see people taking part at all levels in the arts in Akron. This contest starting now is a way to grow those opportunities for arts and culture. Q. Here’s the $1 million question: What kind of ideas are you looking for? A. We are looking for ideas that authentically represent Akron - as a place, as a cultural inspiration. We want projects that speak to the vibrancy we see building in the city.  It’s not about what I think – the whole premise of this challenge is that we’re looking for the voice of the community. Knight’s role is not to come in and dictate what projects should be. It’s about creating a vehicle for the best dreams of the cultural community to become reality, whether that’s coming from an institution, an individual artist, a business or a collective of artists. We are hoping this challenge inspires them to dream big and think how arts and culture weave into the fabric of the community and bring people together.
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    On Aug. 10, the Knight Arts Challenge Akron will officially open for applications, offering $1 million for the best ideas for the arts. This challenge is for everyone. Nonprofits, businesses, individuals and students are all encouraged to apply. While the initial application is easy to complete – we only ask that you describe your idea in 150 words – we are hosting several events to provide more information. On July 29, you can join us for happy hour at BLU Jazz+ and meet the Knight Foundation staff leading the challenge. Please RSVP on Eventbrite.
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    From left; Michelle Srbinovich, General Manager WDET 101.9FM, Vincent Duffy, News Director, Michigan Radio, Stephen Henderson,during the panel: The State of Community News and Engagement during Knight Foundation's Media Learning Seminar 2015. Photo by Patrick Farrell. Does the future of informed communities hinge on collaborative journalism projects, or fiber-optic cables that provide faster Internet access? The work of civic technologists, or nonprofit news startups? There are a variety of approaches to fostering more informed and engaged communities – many of which were discussed in depth at Knight’s 2015 Media Learning Seminar. A gathering of foundation, media and tech leaders, the 8th annual seminar focuses on ways to ensure communities have the information they need to make important decisions. The seminar covered a lot of ground, so we rounded up the takeaways from our blog, plus session videos to help you catch up on what you missed.