Knight Arts Challenge Akron offering a share of up to $1 million will open for applications

Accepting ideas from artists and art organizations of all genres from March 18 - April 19

AKRON, Ohio – March 13, 2019 – The 2019 Knight Arts Challenge Akron will open for applications on March 18, offering a share of up to $1 million for ideas that connect people to place and each other through the arts. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. ET on April 19.

This is the fourth year that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has hosted the challenge in Akron, where it has supported 63 ideas with $2.7 million in funding.

Knight Foundation funds great art because it builds community, bringing people together in a literal sense—gathering audiences at events and exhibitions—and in a figurative sense, wherein we gain shared understanding. The Knight Arts Challenge welcomes ideas from across diverse communities and in every genre. Winners receive financial support, as well as public exposure and professional skill-building.

Today, Akron residents and visitors are discovering the work of former challenge winners, including the Bechdel Fest, an event planned for May 28-June 2, 2019, organized by local teacher Brittany Charek that promotes films celebrating stories of resilient, bold and diverse women. Other past winners include QuTheatre, a performance ensemble that trains LGBTQ youth and adults in acting, writing and directing and produces works shaped by their experiences; and Ma’Sue Productions’ touring production of “Or Does It Explode?” that used stories from the city to examine black manhood through dance, poetry and rap.

“Through the Knight Arts Challenge we strive to enrich people’s lives with high-quality arts experiences that can be seen and heard throughout communities,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. “We hope to attract ideas that are authentically Akron, showcasing arts projects that capture the spirit and stories of the community.”

Applicants can get more detailed information on the challenge, and tips for applying, by attending informational events with Knight staff from March 20-22 and April 3-5. They include community conversations, where former winners and Knight staff will offer insights and take questions, plus office hours, where applicants can meet one-on-one with Knight Arts Program Director Priya Sircar and Program Officer Adam Ganuza to receive feedback on their ideas. Applicants can register online now. Check for more upcoming events.

The application is user-friendly to encourage participation from individual artists, collaboratives and organizations who may never have applied for a grant. Many do apply: Just half of challenge winners are nonprofits; 32 percent have never won a grant before and half have a budget of less than $100,000. 

While Knight is not prescriptive in its approach, we look for high-quality arts projects that demonstrate novelty and perspectives that are authentic to each community. All it takes to apply is a great arts idea and 150 words. Visit for more application details.

There are only three rules for submissions:

1) The idea must be for an arts project.

2) The project must take place in Akron.

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

“The arts community has a big part to play in our city’s transformation—helping to showcase homegrown talent, increase neighborhood vibrancy and make Akron more of a place where people want to live, work and play,” said Kyle Kutuchief, Akron program director for Knight Foundation.

Akron is one of three cities where Knight invests that is hosting a Knight Arts Challenge this year; others include Detroit and Miami. 

Finalists will be announced this summer and winners in the fall.

For Knight Arts Challenge updates, follow #knightarts and @knightfdn on Twitter and Instagram, and Knight Foundation on Facebook.

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


Anusha Alikhan, communications director, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]

Morgan Lasher, president, Amp Strategy, 330-714-4833; [email protected]

Image (top): Jul Big Green performs for Live at Lock 4 in July 2016 beneath Michael Ayers’ mural of jazz and blues musicians in Akron. Photo by Ilenia Pezzaniti.