Knight Foundation

Knight Arts Challenge Akron Winners

These 27 challenge winners are helping to bring arts and culture more deeply into neighborhoods. Learn more below - and get ready for round two of the challenge launching April 4.

Filter by discipline:


  • Dance.r.evolution

    Recipient: Neos Dance Theatre

    Award: $40,000

    Aim: Engaging new audiences by bringing together classically trained ballet dancers with local hip-hop dancers, graffiti artists and urban/pop musicians to create new work


  • Highland Square Film Festival

    Recipient: Highland Square Neighborhood Association

    Award: $6,650

    Aim: Telling Akron stories through a film festival of local works

  • Nightlight Productions

    Recipient: The Nightlight Cinema

    Award: $20,000

    Aim: Improving the cinema experience by purchasing equipment that will allow the Nightlight to create broadcast-quality content, including Skype-based Q&A sessions with directors and filmmakers, high-quality pre-show content, promotional materials and more


  • Traveling Stanzas: Writing Across Borders

    Recipient: Wick Poetry Center

    Award: $125,000

    Aim: Sharing the voices of Akron by enabling residents to submit a short video of an original poem, some of which will be displayed on posters on local buses and in public spaces


  • Akron Songwriters Workshop

    Recipient: Akron Civic Theatre

    Award: $18,000

    Aim: Promoting the art of songwriting by hosting a weeklong summer songwriters workshop for Akron residents

  • BLU Jazz+ Master Class

    Recipient: BLU Jazz+ Akron

    Award: $74,500

    Aim: Bringing training to local jazz musicians through a series of master class workshops at BLU Jazz+ led by top musicians

  • Girls Rock Camp Akron

    Recipient: Dylan Yellowless

    Award: $20,000

    Aim: Fostering the next generation of musicians by bringing the Girls Rock Camp summer camp, where girls 10-16 write and perform songs, to Akron

  • Garage Band

    Recipient: Greater Akron Musical Association

    Award: $7,000

    Aim: Activating a space for artists by turning the Akron Symphony’s garage bay into a stage for local musicians to perform in open-mic events and jam sessions

  • Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival

    Recipient: Theron Brown/ Open Tone Music

    Award: $75,000

    Aim: Building on Akron’s musical legacy by launching a downtown jazz festival that features local and national talent

  • Intensive Music Classes for Akron’s very young

    Recipient: Northeast Ohio Family Music Society

    Award: $5,000

    Aim: Fostering the next generation of artists and arts advocates by bringing the Ohio Conservatory's intensive music classes to local elementary schools


Visual Art

  • Akron Art Library

    Recipient: Akron Art Museum

    Award: $67,200

    Aim: Introducing new audiences to collecting art by starting an art rental program, where any resident with a library card can check out works to display in their home

  • Akron Street Art Project

    Recipient: Akron Street Art Project

    Award: $25,000

    Aim: Enlivening and attracting new people to downtown through public art projects

  • The Optics of Memory

    Recipient: Diane Davis-Sikora and Kasumi

    Award: $37,000

    Aim: Enlivening downtown by building a public art series based on 2011 Guggenheim Fellow Kasumi’s exhibition “The Optics of Memory,” a multimedia piece about the formation of memory and collective consciousness

  • dreamUP

    Recipient: Traci Buckner and Dreama Whitfield

    Award: $20,000

    Aim: Bringing together a diverse group of women in a series of workshops where they will create artistic pieces that reflect their individual life visions and goals

  • #overlooked

    Recipient: Shane Wynn

    Award: $5,000

    Aim: Producing a series of photographic portraits of a cross section of women leaders in Akron set against the backdrop of underused public spaces, as a way to celebrate their accomplishments while empowering them to improve the city’s landscape

  • Northside Arts District Outdoor Gallery

    Recipient: Testa Companies

    Award: $22,850

    Aim: Strengthening the Northside Arts District by creating an outdoor art gallery with digital projections on the side of buildings and yearlong displays of visual art mounted outdoors

  • Art Bomb Brigade

    Recipient: The University of Akron Myers School of Art

    Award: $45,000

    Aim: Creating an “Art Bomb Brigade,” a traveling group of artists that visits neighborhoods in need of a facelift and engages the community in public art-making


  • Theaster Gates on community revitalization, entrepreneurship and the arts

    Recipient: Akron Roundtable

    Award: $17,500

    Aim: Exploring the role of arts in building community by bringing Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates to speak in Akron and meet with artists and entrepreneurs

  • The Heart of Glass

    Recipient: Chad Mason

    Award: $50,000

    Aim: Offering creative opportunities with a mobile glass studio that travels to schools and events

  • Developing Alternatives for Women in New Communities (DAWN)

    Recipient: Manju Rastogi

    Award: $6,410

    Aim: Helping Bhutanese women who came to Northeast Ohio as refugees improve their sewing and craft-making abilities, and market their products

  • Akron Soul Train

    Recipient: Kasota Artist Management

    Award: $150,000

    Aim: Supporting the work of grassroots artists by launching the Akron Soul Train, a series of refurbished rail cars and shipping containers that will be turned into housing, galleries and studio space

  • Nepali Applause: an Open Air Market and Performance Festival

    Recipient: Katie Beck

    Award: $10,000

    Aim: Celebrating the rich history of the Nepali-American population in North Hill with a bilingual variety show featuring art, dance and music

  • The Curated Storefront

    Recipient: Richard Rogers/Woodside Management

    Award: $100,000

    Aim: Bringing more art into the city by activating unused storefronts in downtown with multimedia art installations that showcase local and regional artists

  • Akron’s Toy Marble Railways

    Recipient: The American Toy Marble Museum

    Award: $24,000

    Aim: Celebrating Akron as the birthplace of the world’s first mass-produced toy – the clay marble – with an interactive, kinetic, sculpture garden of toy marble railways at Lock 3 Park and other public spaces