Knight Foundation invests close to $600,000 in Charlotte arts community

2017 will bring new works from individual artists, arts in neighborhoods and more

CHARLOTTE – Dec. 20, 2016 – The new year will bring vibrant arts performances, exhibitions and more to Charlotte – including a choose-your-own adventure theater performance, a fringe festival and more, thanks to new funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The foundation today announced $598,416 in funding for 21 projects, most of which will be unveiled in the coming months. Many will bring art into Charlotte’s neighborhoods, from a new dance and aerial work at a local park, to small-scale performances by Opera Carolina and its partners in community spaces.

Others advance the work of individual artists, such as ArtPop, which displays pieces by Charlotte artists on billboards around the city, and the BOOM Festival, which features emerging artists over three days in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood.

A full list of funding recipients is below.

“At Knight Foundation, we support the arts because of their ability to build community, and to connect people to their city and to each other,” said Amanda Thompson, arts program officer for Knight Foundation. “These projects reflect and include a range of perspectives, so that the whole community can be a part of the arts scene.”

Knight Foundation’s arts program works with artists and cultural groups that create or present art that engages, educates and delights residents in ways that reflect the city.

“Whether you are a local filmmaker, like to take in a night of theater or enjoy the literary arts, you can easily be a part of Charlotte’s growing cultural community by taking part in these projects,” said Charles Thomas, Knight Foundation program director for Charlotte.

The recipients are:

Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte ($25,000) To commission and produce two original works on one theme – one created from the vantage point of adults, the other of and for children

ArtPop ($25,000) To bring the work of 20 local artists to more people by expanding community programming around ArtPop, which displays art on billboards and other available media space

Arts and Science Council of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County ($75,000) To help emerging cultural organizations improve their ability to adapt to 21st century trends in philanthropy, organizational development and audience engagement through a workshop series and individual coaching

Bechtler Museum ($25,000) To expand the museum’s programming beyond its walls by providing access to art and arts education to seniors, the incarcerated, people with limited sight and others

Caroline Calouche & Co. ($25,000) To engage Charlotte audiences in contemporary dance and circus arts with a new, site-specific outdoor show at First Ward Park in September 2017

Charlotte Black Film Festival ($5,000) To increase opportunities for black filmmakers and actors in Charlotte and to bring more films by African-Americans to local audiences by supporting the 2017 festival

Charlotte Center for Literary Arts ($25,000) To bring poetry into everyday spaces through 4x4CLT, which combines four poems from acclaimed poets with four works of art from local and regional artists, on posters that will be displayed in public spaces

Charlotte Film Society ($25,000) To increase access to independent films and filmmakers through the Charlotte Film Lab series, which brings national talent to the city to screen films and host discussions about their work

Charlotte Jewish Film Festival, a program of the Levine Jewish Community Center, ($5,000) To entice young adult audiences to the festival with films and participatory events that focus on the meaning of and search for identity

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Society ($25,000) To engage new audiences in classical music with a performance of an unexpected mash-up of Brahms and Radiohead

Clayworks ($8,000) To increase access to renowned artists working in clay by bringing four professionals to the organization’s 10th anniversary symposium, which took place in May 2016

Jazz Arts Initiative ($60,000) To bring iconic jazz music to more residents by expanding the monthly series Jazz Room at The Stage Door Theater

Mint Museum of Art ($75,000) To bring an acclaimed exhibit to Charlotte that focuses on the range of work being created today in the United States by contemporary artists who live outside of New York and Los Angeles

Opera Carolina ($25,000) To bring opera into people’s everyday lives by supporting Opera Unlimited, a series of small-scale performances, in conjunction with community partners, that reached 25,000 people last year

OnQ Performing Arts ($30,000) To refine, record and present in Charlotte the play “Miles & Coltrane,” an original work developed by OnQ that has toured internationally

One Voice Chorus ($10,000) To tell the story of Alan Turing, a computer scientist who helped the British break the Nazi’s secret codes and was later prosecuted for being gay, by performing the U.S. premiere of composer James McCarthy’s “Codebreaker” in partnership with the Nashville Harmony Chorus

Wall Poems ($50,000) To provide a space for artists to experiment by hosting six artist residencies with open studio hours at the Goodyear Arts Center, culminating in December 2016

Que-OS ($35,000) To support cutting-edge art through the 2017 BOOM Festival, a three-day fringe festival of dance, theater, visual arts, music and spoken word performances at three venues in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood

XOXO Performance ($30,000) To explore the question, “What is the American dream in the 21st century,” through an immersive theater piece based on interviews of Charlotte residents and structured partly as a “choose-your-own-adventure” experience through Uptown”

Tosco Music ($5,000) To expand Tosco Music’s sing-a-long series, which engages senior audiences in musical performances

100 Word Film Festival ($10,416) To help professional and student filmmakers develop storytelling skills through an innovative festival that democratizes the filmmaking process

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, [email protected], 305-908-2677

Photos available upon request