Connecting people to place and each other

What We Fund

We believe that great art attaches people to place and to each other. Investing in arts and culture is central to Knight’s effort to build stronger, better informed and more engaged communities, the foundation of a healthy democracy.

Knight’s arts program  works in eight cities where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. By focusing on limited geographic areas, we find our investments have more impact, as art projects stimulate and reinforce each other.

Our approach is to simultaneously fund major arts institutions and talented local artists. Our support often allows anchor arts institutions to experiment with new approaches to connect with the public. For local artists and organizations, we offer funding opportunities such as the Knight Arts Challenge that are open to all, fostering artistic excellence across diverse communities and creating opportunities to encounter art anywhere. 

In the arts, as in other Knight Foundation programs, we seek to leverage the potential of technology innovation to engage the public in new and powerful ways.

We don’t tell artists what to create. Rather, we watch and listen to understand where, how and what art is being created in a community, and we pour our support into authentic, local opportunities, giving artists the space and resources to express their vision and tell their city’s story in an inclusive way. 


The four pillars of our arts investment strategy are:

  • Art creation and presentation, with insistence on artistic excellence

  • Audience engagement and access

  • Professional and organizational development, for stronger, more inclusive ecosystems

  • Technology innovation, for art-making and engagement

In 2018, we announced the winners of an open call for ideas on arts and technology in May. In November, we announced the winners of the Knight Arts Challenge Detroit and $20 million in new Detroit arts investments to help the city tell its own story. In December, we announced the winners of Knight New Work Miami and $37 million in new funding for the local arts ecosystem, aimed at making art general in South Florida. 

We created learning cohorts in Macon, Georgia; Philadelphia; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota, to support developments within and across Knight cities. Learn more.

Upcoming in 2019:

  • Knight Arts Challenges will be held starting in April in Akron, Detroit and Miami.

  • Artists and organizations in those cities as well as Charlotte, North Carolina; Macon, Georgia; Philadelphia; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota, can apply for funding via Letters of Inquiry. 

Arts Program staff

Director/Arts + Technology Innovation