Knight Foundation names 64 finalists in Knight Arts Challenge Detroit – Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation names 64 finalists in Knight Arts Challenge Detroit


Knight Arts Challenge finalist Britney Stoney.

DETROIT – Sept. 13, 2016 – Knight Foundation named 64 ideas as finalists today in the Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide initiative funding the best ideas for engaging and enriching Detroit through the arts.

Emerging from close to 1,000 submissions, the finalists propose a broad range of projects – including producing a full-length dance performance that shares stories of the Great Migration, bringing the Dequindre Cut alive with an international festival featuring street performers, and celebrating the work of the city’s youth poets.

A full list of finalists is available below and online at

“These 64 ideas represent the creativity, diversity and depth of Detroit’s arts community. They reconfirm our belief in this city, and the ability of artists and the cultural community to shape its future,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.

Knight Foundation will announce the winning ideas on Nov. 3, and winners will receive a share of $3 million in matching funds to realize their projects.

The Knight Arts Challenge, now in its fourth year in Detroit, is open to anyone. Applicants must follow only three rules: 1) The idea must be about the arts; 2) The project must take place in or benefit Detroit; 3) The grant recipient must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.

 “The challenge has endured and thrived because it truly represents Knight Foundation’s faith in the Detroit arts community, putting financial resources and institutional support behind the on-the-ground efforts that have defined this city for generations,” said Katy Locker, Detroit program director for Knight Foundation. “Knight’s investment, in turn, empowers Detroit’s creative community to become agents of change in the ongoing story of the city’s vitality.”

The challenge is part of a $29 million investment in the Detroit arts that Knight Foundation first announced in the fall of 2012. Knight Foundation’s commitment includes support for the six years of the challenge, through 2018, and $10.25 million to some of the region’s premiere cultural institutions, including the Arab American National Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre and the Sphinx Organization.

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

Knight Arts Challenge Finalists

12-and-Under Super Cool Poetry Open Mic

To create a youth-driven open mic series, hosted by a 9-year-old poet, at prominent cultural institutions in Detroit

9338 Campau

To explore how Muslim immigrants are reshaping Detroit neighborhoods and public spaces through a photo exhibition and publication

Alicia Diaz

To examine Detroit’s role as a sanctuary for Central American refugees in the 1980s through a multimedia exhibition

Allied Media Conference

To expand the reach of this annual gathering by commissioning new works for the 2017 opening ceremony, which will be free and open to the public


To document and magnify the city’s arts scene with an online journal of critical discourse shared from the black perspective

Arts League of Michigan

To showcase the talent of Detroit with the Expats’ Festival, a 10-day residency featuring artists for whom the Motor City is home, but now the world is their stage

A Host of People

To celebrate the idea of difference with a new experimental play and performance series exploring what it means to identify as multiracial, multigendered, multisexual people

Ballet Folklorico De Detroit

To unite the city’s Mexican folkloric dance groups with a six-day dance workshop that promotes the discipline

Barbara Barefield

To share Detroit’s musical heritage by creating a permanent, accessible archive of jazz photos, music posters and art

Beautifully Wrapped

To explore themes of identity, fashion and cultural assimilation through “Beautifully Wrapped,” an interfaith, traveling exhibit on the art of head wrapping among Sikh Indians, Rastafarians, the Amish, Muslims and others

Bree Grant

To explore the intersection of African cultural traditions in Detroit’s art scene today with AfroFuturePast, which includes zines, short dance films and community events

Britney Stoney

To share an artist’s creative journey by touring an original musical about following your dreams

CAN Art Handworks 

To engage Detroiters in a sustainability project in a playful manner by having artist Carl Nielbock create wind turbine sculptures in Eastern Market that power cellphone charging stations and help irrigate urban crops


To bring art to more neighborhoods with The Night Show, a late-night arts festival in five of Detroit’s often overlooked neighborhoods

Chamber Music Society of Detroit

To engage new listeners in the art of jazz-infused chamber music through a yearlong residency featuring the Harlem String Quartet

Wire-car Auto Workers Association of Detroit (WAWAD)

To promote the culture of wire-cars – miniature cars made of wire and found materials – through an interactive website and the creation of a parking structure to showcase models

City of Detroit Department of Planning and Development

To engage noted African-American artists in the regeneration of Detroit’s neighborhoods through art installations involving abandoned homes and landscapes

College for Creative Studies/CultureLab Detroit

To promote community cohesion by transforming Grand Boulevard with a living sculpture designed by Walter Hood that will be composed of suspended logs seeded with plants

Creative Many Michigan

Bridging the gap between artists, designers and technologists with Make + Do, a yearlong series of professional development workshops

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

To activate a new gathering space in Mt. Elliott Park by prototyping a “forest of light,” designed by the Brazilian brothers Humberto and Fernando Campana, which will include a tree-like, solar-powered sculptural lamp that provides light at night and shade for afternoon play

Detroit Youth Volume

To inspire the young classical violinists training with this group to become jazz musicians by employing local jazz artists as teachers


To strengthen DLECTRICITY by bringing multidisciplinary artist Rashaad Newsome to debut a new video installation that explores Detroit’s history, and to lead a processional performance that opens the festival

DRCFA Art Foundation

To inspire visitors to the Cobo Center by having artist Hubert Massey create a fresco with the same techniques used by Diego Rivera in his murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Ecumenical Theological Seminary

To provide a space for spiritual and secular music by refurbishing the seminary’s sanctuary for concerts

Emily Kutil

To connect Detroit residents with the Burton Historic Collection’s photographs of the former Black Bottom neighborhood through a website that maps the images and serves as a platform for neighborhood histories


To promote critical discourse on the the arts in Detroit through a series of activities, including peer-reviewed, career-survey essays on Detroit artists, public workshops that broaden the scope and skill set for written criticism and artist talks that raise awareness of Detroit’s thriving art scene

Final Girls

To support female filmmakers in Detroit through Final Girls, a filmmaking collective that will host workshops, screenings and master classes

Fringe Society

To explore the wonder of traditional textile production by having fiber and textile artists take over storefront windows on the Avenue of Fashion and turn them into studios for spinning, dyeing and weaving fabrics

Focus: HOPE

To turn the historic Michigan Bell Telephone building into a canvas for Detroit stories by projecting on it new works of light art, video and photographs

Georgina Garcia-Pfeuffer

To remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones through a Day of the Dead community celebration that will offer an explanation of the Mexican tradition, a community procession led by local singers and an art-making workshop for kids

Ghana ThinkTank

To bring people together through shared space by transforming a vacant lot into the courtyard of a Moroccan-style riad

Greg Baise

To explore the experience of prison life through a multimedia performance about the experience of the incarcerated in America presented at four neighborhood venues

Hatch Art

To turn the property housing “Hamtramck Disneyland,” a folk art piece created by a retired GM factory worker, into a gallery and artist residency spaces

Hamtramck Music Festival

To strengthen this volunteer-run festival, which is a platform for local musicians where funds raised support local music students

InsideOut Literary Arts Project

To identify and celebrate new young poets through an annual writing contest that will chose a youth poet laureate for the city

Jeff Sturges

To transform the act of learning to play music by creating new sound synthesizers that are inexpensive and easy to use, and invite collaborative play

Jehan Mullin

To bring multimedia artist Dena Al-Adeeb and her interactive art project, “The Taste of Displacement,” to Detroit for a site-specific piece that explores local Arab American experiences through video and performance art

Julie Schenkelberg

To engage the Virginia Park neighborhood in contemporary art with a temporary, site-specific installation on the grounds of Detroit’s longtime Hermann Kiefer public hospital, which is being redeveloped

Jova Johnson Vargas

To create a space for African-Americans to collectively tell stories of their response to crises in Detroit communities through multimedia workshops that culminate in a festival

Kristi Faulkner Dance

To explore themes of identity and gender with an original performance work created with LGBT youth from the Ruth Ellis Center (Featured image by The Shutter Monkeys of Kristi Faulkner Dance)

Lawrence Technological University Detroit Studio

To reconstruct Detroit’s historic West End in maps by creating a tapestry of paintings, drawings, pictures and infographics of the neighborhood created by the community using a mobile mapping cart

Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation

To engage older adults in the arts by creating a professionally-run theater group where seniors write, produce and perform plays for the public

Michigan Avenue Business Association

To use art to transform viaducts by pairing artists and planners to revive the

Michigan-Clark commercial corridor in Southwest Detroit

New Music Detroit

To build community around one of Detroit’s artistic treasures – Diego Rivera’s frescoes at the Detroit Institute of Arts – by commissioning a major new chamber music work inspired by them and in honor of their 85th anniversary

Nichole Christian

To paint a narrative of Detroit based on hope, perseverance and wonder through “In Their Eyes,” a traveling exhibit of photographs of Detroit youth that sees the city through the beauty of its children

North Rosedale Park Civic Association

To continue the transformation of this neighborhood’s 7-acre park by working with local artists to create installations along the 5-mile walkway that borders the park

Playground Detroit

To raise the profile of Detroit artists nationally through the City2City residency, which pairs local artists with those from another city, and have them collaborate on new art


To use art and technology for creative expression in a series of interactive experiences, including holographic projects along storefronts in downtown Detroit

Popps Packing

To offer new opportunities to Detroit artists with Export Detroit, a pilot program that will fund local creatives to participate in residency programs abroad


To bring together Detroit’s African and Arab-American communities through a large-scale project in the Motor City and in Marrakech by eL Seed, a North African-Arab artist whose work focuses on building empathy and understanding

Saundra Little and Karen Burton

To document the professional journeys and creative works of Detroit’s black  architects through a series of videos, photographs, maps and tours.

Seraphine Collective

To bring new voices to the electronic music scene with workshops to train and build community among female-identified DJs

Step Afrika! USA

To share the story of the Great Migration through dance, by bringing Step Afrika!’s full-length dance piece based on artist Jacob Lawrence’s migration series to Detroit

The Aadizookaan

To share Detroit stories in the tradition of indigenous communities by using multimedia tools that travel to communities in a mobile storytelling unit

The Heidelberg Project

To tell the story of one of Detroit’s most enduring public art projects on its 30th anniversary through a series of photo and video vignettes, events, exhibitions and celebrations

The Hinterlands

To explore narratives and perceptions of life in the United States by inviting artists from China, Russia and Iran to write new works about Americans and perform them in Detroit and online

The Scarab Club of Detroit

To strengthen a hub for the city’s creative community with a concert series, “Live at the Scarab Club,” that mixes music, historical narratives, visual arts and poetry

Shannon Cason

To spotlight the best national and local storytellers through a monthly event, Homemade Stories Live

Sidewalk Detroit and The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

To bring the Dequindre Cut alive with artists from around the world in “Busk the Cut,” an international festival of street performers, circus and graffiti artists and more

What Pipeline

To bring more daring contemporary art to Detroit by inviting African-American artist Pope.L for a unique exhibit and performance


To strengthen the craft of storytelling in Detroit by developing a network of multimedia artists and empowering them to share their stories with a wider audience – on the radio, online and in public spaces

Women Who Weld

To transform a vacant lot in the Islandview neighborhood into an art-filled park created by participants in this program, which teaches women living in temporary shelter to weld and helps them find jobs in the field

Young Nation

To support the develop of local artists by turning garages into artists’ studios in addition to holding hip-hop arts workshops and experiences that culminate in a large public art project

Zimbabwe Cultural Centre in Detroit

To bring together the Zimbabwe and Detroit Jit, similar dance styles that blossomed at the same time on different continents, by bringing Zimbabwean dancers to Detroit



Anusha Alikhan, director of communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677

Peter Van Dyke, CEO, Van Dyke Horn Public Relations, 313-872-2202