Knight Foundation names six winners in 2021 Knight Arts Challenge Akron – Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation names six winners in 2021 Knight Arts Challenge Akron

These Akron artists and arts organizations will share nearly $400,000 for works that showcase diversity, creativity and new forms of expression across the city.

AKRON, Ohio – Dec. 8, 2021 – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation selected six artists and arts organizations to share nearly $400,000 from the 2021 Knight Arts Challenge Akron to bring their ideas to life and connect people to each other and to their community.

This year, the Knight Arts Challenge put its emphasis on artists and art organizations using innovative methods to attract broader audiences, enhance in-person experiences, document creation, or amplify reach to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a variety of arts experiences.

“Not even the pandemic could stop the creativity and innovation of Akron’s artists and art organizations,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight’s Arts program vice president, “They adapted and used technology during the pandemic to reach audiences wherever they are. The ability to inform, engage, and connect people through their art is a gift to all of us, and we’re proud to help bring these ideas to life.”

This is the fifth year of the Knight Arts Challenge in Akron, which has invested more than $3.3 million to date for projects that answered one question: “What’s your best idea for the arts in Akron?” The challenge is part of Knight’s strategy that supports arts organizations of all sizes and local artists who, through their work, help connect people to each other and to their community. The Challenge reflects Knight Foundation’s belief that art is an integral part of a healthy democracy and that it plays an essential role in building more informed and engaged communities.

The 2021 grantees are eligible to receive additional funding to implement digital strategies in service of their individual practice or organization, as well as getting access to experts, who can advise them on how to effectively deploy the additional funding. In addition, winners will also receive access to training resources and materials related to business sustainability, budgeting, revenue generation, marketing and outreach.

Knight will also provide an additional $10,000 to each of the six winners, in addition to eight other Akron-based artists and arts organizations, for technical support for their projects. The funds, totaling $140,000 for the group of 14 artists and arts organizations, are designed to assist with technical equipment, software, consultants or other tech-related aspects needed to bring their works to life.

“The arts are an essential part of Akron’s community life,” said Kyle Kutuchief, Knight’s Akron program director. “Whether it’s a dance performance, a concert or an immersive experience, Akron’s artists help connect Akronites to their city and to each other, helping build a more engaged community. We’re excited to see the ideas of these Knight Arts Challenge winners come to life.” 

Meet the 2021 Knight Arts Challenge Winners:


Gum-Dip Theatre

Brokers Without Borders
A cross-cultural play created by a multiethnic former refugee ensemble that demonstrates the experience of navigating an entirely new world and the celebrations of finding success in a globalized community.

Akron Black Artist Guild

The Art & Park Collective
A project that provides black artists opportunities to leverage technology to produce performances, workshops and demonstrations in public parks.

Natalie Warren

The Onyx Club Exhibitions: Hidden Gems
A series of exhibitions to make Black history and culture more accessible to the residents of Akron throughout the year.

Radio on the Lake Theatre

Listening to History: An Akron Radio Play Tour for the Visually Challenged
A portable audio tour utilizing the art of the radio play to illuminate five Akron historical landmarks for the visually challenged

The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University

Mapping Akron: A Poetic Exploration of Home
An Interactive poetic map of Akron displayed in pop-up exhibits throughout the city


Pride 365
A community-driven performance in Summer 2022 crafted from stories collected during monthly queer gatherings throughout the city.

Meet the 2021 $10,000 Tech Grant Knight Arts Challenge Winners:

  • Gum-Dip Theatre
  • Akron Black Artist Guild
  • Natalie Warren
  • Radio on the Lake Theatre
  • The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University
  • QuTheatr
  • Kent State University Foundation
  • Tyron Hoisten
  • Dominic Moore-Dunson
  • Sarah Kabot
  • Ebrahim Poustinchi
  • Vince Giles – 4 Pillars Edutainment
  • Akron Soul Train
  • Megan Young


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

We are social investors who support democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once had newspapers. Learn more at and follow @knightfdn on social media.