Knight Arts Challenge Detroit, offering a share of up to $3 million, is now open for applications

DETROIT – March 29, 2017 – The 2017 Knight Arts Challenge is now open for applications, offering a share of up to $3 million to the best ideas for engaging and enriching Detroit through the arts. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. April 28.

A project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the challenge is now in its fifth year in Detroit, and has awarded $9.46 million in matching grants, bringing to life 222 successful arts ideas since its inception in 2013.

Knight Foundation funds the arts because of their ability to inspire communities and connect people to each other and to their city. The challenge is part of a two-pronged strategy that supports established arts institutions to help them better engage the public and funds grassroots initiatives of individual artists and organizations so that everyone has a chance to make their idea a reality.

The application is user-friendly to encourage individual artists and organizations that 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.

All it takes to apply is a compelling arts idea and 150 words. The application is available at  

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

“The Knight Arts Challenge is an open opportunity for people to name their artistic dreams,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. “We want to hear what Detroit arts organizations, artists and businesses believe are the best ideas to inspire, engage and advance the community.”

Since the challenge came to Detroit in 2013, grantees have made their mark on communities throughout the city, with The Alley Project (TAP), bringing murals to new spaces in Southwest Detroit; Heritage Works, expanding its African dance and education programs to incorporate deeper interactions between Detroit-area youth and authentic African cultural experiences; Power House Productions, rehabilitating abandoned homes to become spaces for performance venues, reading rooms and community gatherings; and Detroit Fiber Works, uniting a collective of fiber artists to engage and enrich the community through workshops, gallery exhibitions and a collaborative public art installation on the Avenue of Fashion.

In turn, the challenge has responded to Detroit’s unique cultural landscape during a time of accelerated economic development and renewed investment in cultural institutions. In 2016, Knight Foundation awarded challenge funds to a set of projects that explore the origins and legacy of the city’s civil unrest in July 1967. In anticipation of the 30th anniversary of one of the most controversial milestones in the city’s history, seven cultural organizations received over $680,000 for projects that seek to address and contribute to the ongoing dialogue on the impact of those events through theater, photo exhibitions, film, performance art, oral histories and music.

“Whether we are helping arts organizations experiment, or are bringing new ideas and efforts to life, the Knight Arts Challenge helps to elevate the voices of Detroiters,” said Katy Locker, Detroit program director for Knight Foundation. “Our entire community thrives when we expand the conversation.”

Members of the Knight Foundation program staff are in Detroit this week to engage with potential applicants at a series of community meetings, including an open Community Conversation on Friday, March 31, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave. The program will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., including a panel discussion with previous winners Rhonda Greene of Heritage Works and Lynne Avadenka of Signal-Return. A light lunch will be provided.

This free event has limited seating. Participants must register at

Challenge finalists will be announced this summer, and winners this 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, director of communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646; [email protected]

Peter Van Dyke, CEO, Van Dyke Horn Public Relations, 313-872-2202; [email protected]