Knight Arts Challenge Detroit offering a share of up to $2 million will open for applications

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

DETROIT – March 13, 2019 – The 2019 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit will open for applications on March 18, offering a share of up to $2 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.

A project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the challenge is now in its seventh year in Detroit, and has awarded $11.3 million in matching grants, supporting 276 arts ideas since its inception in 2013.

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.

“Building on the energy and rigor for artistic excellence in Detroit, through the Knight Arts Challenge we hope to discover authentic, local ideas that highlight this talented community,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation vice president for the arts. “We want to bring to life the ideas of Detroit artists and arts organizations.”  

Applicants can get more detailed information on the challenge, and tips for applying, by attending informational events with Knight staff from March 27-29 and April 8-10. 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 Detroit.

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

“Artists and arts organizations are part of the story of Detroit and our city’s transformation. We look forward to supporting ideas big and small through the Knight Arts Challenge and continuing that momentum,” said Katy Locker, Detroit program director for Knight Foundation.

Since 2013, arts ideas that represent the broad variety of disciplines and practitioners working in the city have been realized through the challenge. These include: Tetra, a four-show festival of theater, poetry, music and technology exploring stories of personal transformation, created by Chace Morris and Sherina Sharpe;  The Porch on TAP, in which Southwest Detroit-based Young Nation hosts short-term residencies for artists to connect with community, stage performances, show their creations and conduct workshops, all from the organization’s front porch; and Baghdad in Detroit, a collaborative video project led by Dunya Mikhail, that highlights Detroit through the eyes of Iraqi-American poets and explores the many diverse communities within the city. 

In October 2018, Knight Foundation announced a $20 million investment to further strengthen the arts in Detroit, including a recommitment to the Knight Arts Challenge. Since 2012, Knight Foundation has invested $52 million in the arts in Detroit. 

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

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

Image (top): Heritage Works Black Body. Photo by Mark Harris.