Knight Arts Challenge 2021 returns to Akron

Local artists and arts organizations are encouraged to apply by submitting their best ideas for the arts from July 1 to 31.

Akron, OH (June 21, 2021) – Artists and arts organizations across Akron have adopted their practices to connect with audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the innovation and creativity they have shown, Knight Foundation is launching the Knight Arts Challenge 2021 in July to support Akron artists to create works that connect people to place and each other.

The open call for applications will begin on July 1 and end on July 31. Artists and arts organizations are encouraged to apply for a share of $1 million to fund their projects by submitting a 150-word proposal that answers this question: What is your best idea for the arts in Akron? 

“The arts are a powerful tool to bring people together; they foster community,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president. “As Akron reopens, we’ll help ensure artistic expression with power derived from reflecting the whole community.”

“Through the Knight Arts Challenge, we want to support artists and art organizations who are showing the way forward as cities reopen, and encourage them to embrace new forms of expression that mirror ways audiences are engaging with art,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight’s vice president for the Arts. “We look forward to adding new artists and ideas to help bring their incredible works of art to life.”

Since its creation in 2008, the Knight Arts Challenge has funded hundreds of ideas from artists and arts organizations that have helped transform the arts and culture scene in cities, including Akron, where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Challenge winners reflect the diversity of their communities.

Now in its fifth year in Akron, the Challenge — open to anyone with an idea for engaging and enriching Akron through arts and culture — has brought 63 projects to life by awarding nearly $3.3 million in grants.

This year, the Knight Arts Challenge is interested in how artists and art organizations are creating works that attract audiences, enhance in-person experiences, document creation, or amplify reach to people who wouldn’t otherwise experience the art. Audio, video, websites, mobile apps, augmented reality and virtual reality are all potential tools.

Winners of the Challenge, who will be announced in the fall, are eligible to receive additional funding to implement digital strategies in service of their individual practice or organization, as well as getting access to experts, who can advise them on how to effectively deploy the additional funding. In addition, winners will also receive access to training resources and materials related to business sustainability, budgeting, revenue generation, marketing and outreach.

During the July 1 to 31 application period, Knight will host two virtual town hall meetings on July 1 and July 26, and members of the Knight Arts team will be available for virtual office hours to answer questions about the application process or to provide feedback on pitching ideas. Applicants are encouraged to reserve a time at

Local arts and cultural catalyst ArtsNow will also host two community workshops to support potential applicants with tips for applying and connection building. More information may be found at

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About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

Media Contact: Kat Allen, Amp Strategy, 330-714-2274,