By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Man, no one loves to give away massive amounts of cash like the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Last week, the foundation held its annual Knight Arts Challenge award ceremony, dropping a $2.9 million jackpot on 31 local South Florida arts organizations, including the Bas Fisher Invitational, Coral Morphologic, and the Little Haiti Cultural Center. Another totally worthy recipient: Roofless Records, local purveyor of cultural ephemera, presenter of highly experimental music events, and winner of both New Times' Best Record Label of 2010 and 2011 Mastermind Award.
Run by regular Crossfade contributor Matt Preira and his longtime business partner, Dana Bassett, Roofless scored a $20,000 grant for a project entitled "Worthy Spectacles and Obsolete Mediums," which basically translates to "launch[ing] seasonal catalogs and a publishing house, and continu[ing] to curate [the label's] signature events."
The day after Roofless's triumph, we spoke with a still-stunned Preira about this huge honor. "Dude, we are stoked!" he said, adding, "It was almost unreal. The Knight ceremony has this Willy Wonka air about it. You, like, walk into this room and there are these people with infinite resources for the arts.
"At one point, there was a five- or six-piece horn section scattered throughout the audience. One by one, they stood up and started to play together. It was quite whimsical. You just wanted to break off a piece and take a bite like it was chocolate."
And the official Roofless Records acceptance speech? "I had one all written out. But I didn't even get to deliver it," Preira jokes. "Actually, I posted a long list of thanks on Facebook. That would've been my big speech.
"Every single thing that Roofless does is collaborative. So it's our ideas and we won this grant. But a lot of people won this grant with us."
Of course, in order to begin collecting its Knight funds, Roofless must match the foundation's total grant amount. "We have to drum up $20,000," Preira explains. "And we're going to get that done through various fundraising efforts.
"There are still a million things to figure out. But we're getting a ton of help, because one of the amazing things about the Knight Foundation is the resources they offer to the people they're funding.
"Like, they have grant-writing classes! They have an accountant that I meet with once a week," he laughs. "Any question you have, they've got someone on hand with an answer. It's really an incredible organization.
"Roofless is so totally thankful," Preira says. "We are broke! And the Knight Foundation has given us exactly the kind of access and lubrication that we need to accomplish our craziest dreams."