Knight Arts Challenge 2019

The Knight Arts Challenge funds the best ideas that connect people to place and to each other through the arts. In 2019, we're bringing great ideas to life in Akron, Detroit and Miami.

Note: The application period is now closed. Finalists for Akron, Detroit and Miami will be announced later this year. 

What is your best idea for the arts?

The Knight Arts Challenge funds the best ideas that connect people to place and to each other through the arts. In 2019, we’ll open challenges in Akron, Detroit and Miami, and invite applications from artists and arts organizations in each of these cities. 

Winners will receive a share of $1 million in Akron, and a share of $2 million in Detroit and Miami. 

See below for how to RSVP for informational sessions, including one-on-one office hours, community conversations and workshop Q&A.

Who should apply?

Anyone can enter the Knight Arts Challenge, whether you’re an individual artist, artist collective, nonprofit organization or for-profit business.  

There are just three rules:

  • The idea must be for an arts project.

  • The project must take place in Akron, Detroit or South Florida (from Palm Beach to the Keys).

  • You must find other funding to match Knight Foundation’s grant.

All it takes is a 150-word description of your arts idea to apply. We welcome one idea per applicant. 

Why the Knight Arts Challenge?

At Knight Foundation, we believe that great art connects us to each other and to the places where we live, work and play. Great art inspires and challenges us. It provokes us to question the world around us and to think critically. Ultimately, it builds community, bringing people together in a literal sense—gathering audiences at at events and exhibitions—and in a figurative sense, wherein we gain shared understanding. Knight seeks to promote more informed and engaged communities. Art, with its transformative, eye-opening, and thought-provoking power, is a means to that end. 

The Knight Arts Challenge helps artists and arts organizations bring to life authentic works and experiences that capture the spirit of their city. It strives to engage and enrich people through the arts, so that high-quality cultural experiences are a part of our daily lives, making art general in communities and felt by all.  

The challenge welcomes ideas from across diverse communities and in every genre. Winners receive financial support, as well as public exposure and professional skill-building.

How will Knight Foundation evaluate applications this year?

Knight Foundation funds great art. We look for work that demonstrates rigour, novelty and perspectives that are authentic to each community. Challenge winners are diverse in background and focus area. Winners have been both emerging and established artists, as well as organizations. The common thread among them is artistic excellence. 

Submissions are evaluated with the assistance of a panel of local arts experts, former grantees, funders and other stakeholders. 

At Knight, we are not prescriptive: We don’t tell artists what to create or organizations what to present. Through our investments, we bring your ideas to life. 

Check out examples of past Knight Arts Challenge winners: 


In Miami, submissions are being accepted from June 24 – 11:59 p.m. EST July 26, 2019.

In Akron and Detroit, submissions were accepted from March 18 – 11:59 p.m. EST April 19, 2019. Finalists will be announced this summer.

Want to know more?

Knight is hosting several informational sessions about this year’s challenge, including:

  • Community conversations: Knight staff will go over the challenge basics, timeline, and what we’re looking for in applications, and you’ll hear from past winners.
  • Office hours: Meet one-on-one with Knight staff for 15 minutes for individualized feedback.

Click here to watch a recording of a virtual info session. 

For additional information, you can read the FAQ; a blog post by Knight arts officer Adam Ganuza; the press releases for Miami, Akron and Detroit; or email [email protected]

Note: The application for Akron and Detroit is now closed. Finalists will be announced this summer. The application for Miami will be available starting on June 24, 2019. More details on the schedule are above.

Image (top): Detroit Artists Market became a Knight Arts Challenge winner in 2018 for its idea to commission performance artist Jennifer Harge (pictured) to create an immersive exhibition centering on intimacy, domesticity and resilience. Image courtesy of Detroit Artists Market.

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