Knight Arts Challenge Akron opens Aug. 10 offering $1 million for local arts ideas

AKRON — July 15, 2015 — Beginning Aug. 10, Akron-area residents can apply for the Knight Arts Challenge, which will offer a share of $1 million to the best ideas for engaging and enriching the community through the arts. The deadline for the challenge, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is Sept. 14.

“This challenge is for everyone. Whether you are an arts organization or a small collective, or even an individual artist, we want to hear your best ideas,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation.

Anyone can apply. All it takes is 150 words to fill out the initial application, which will be available at beginning Aug. 10 and is designed to be simple to encourage nontraditional applicants.

There are only three rules for the challenge:
1) The idea must be about the arts.
2) The project must take place in or benefit Akron.
3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.

Knight Foundation will host several Community Q&A sessions in Akron about the challenge. The events, taking place Aug. 24-26, will offer tips on creating a standout application, information on the challenge timeline and more.

The Q&A schedule is as follows:

• 5:30 p.m., Aug. 24: Akron Urban League, 440 Vernon Odom Blvd., Akron

• 5:30 p.m., Aug. 25: Mustard Seed Cafe, 867 W. Market St., Akron

• 5:30 p.m., Aug. 26: Akron Art Museum, 1 S. High St., Akron

The Q&As will be cohosted by Alchemy, ArtsNow and Akron Art Museum.

“This contest is about ideas. We’re looking for innovative, authentically Akron ideas. Dream big and send in your best ideas for our community,” said Kyle Kutuchief, Akron program director for Knight Foundation.

Knight Foundation has noticed a growing arts and culture scene locally, and over the past two years has invested $11 million in the Akron arts: $3 million is committed to the Knight Arts Challenge, and $8 million to both a new national choreography center at the University of Akron in addition to funding for other anchor arts institutions.  


A 2014 survey commissioned by Knight and the GAR Foundation crystallized the decision to make this commitment. The assessment found a significant demand for arts and cultural experiences in Akron, with 75 percent of respondents having attended an arts or cultural event in the past year. At the same time, young people in general and African-Americans both responded that they are looking for more arts events and opportunities relevant to them. Institutional grants totaling $3 million in 2014 and the Knight Arts Challenge can help fill those gaps.

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

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


Anusha Alikhan, Knight Foundation communications director, 305-908-2677, [email protected]

Alan Ashby, WhiteSpace Creative, 330-762-9320, [email protected]