Buskerfest Miami, one of 43 Knight Arts Challenge winners this year.EXPAND
Buskerfest Miami, one of 43 Knight Arts Challenge winners this year.
Cristina Isabel Rivera

Knight Foundation Announces 43 Arts Challenge Winners

The biggest week of the year in Miami, where arts is concerned, started today. Though the biggest events of Art Basel and Miami Art Week won't get underway until this weekend, some local creatives could look back on tonight as a turning point in their cultural careers.

The Knight Foundation announced the recipients of its annual Knight Arts Challenge grants tonight, giving $2.5 million to 43 local arts initiatives. The foundation celebrated its tenth year of giving with a party on the plaza between the Perez Art Museum Miami and Frost Science Museum.

As in past years, the recipients represent a diverse array of disciplines, from visual art to music, dance, film, theater, and beyond. Well-established organizations like The Bass museum and YMCA of South Florida sit alongside newer projects, like the Flaming Classics film series that pairs classic movies with drag performances, and endeavors by individual artists including BlackFlorida photographer Johanne Rahaman and Olivia Ramos, the artist behind Work Untitled magazine.

Other projects include Art Vs. Extinction: Miami Mermaid Debates, a plan to stage a "traveling talk show where mermaids host interviews and debate issues of biodiversity loss, global warming and other environmental challenges." FilmGate Miami hopes to create a virtual reality experience letting viewers explore Stiltsville, the abandoned (and now, protected) community of homes standing on stilts in Biscayne Bay. And a "Commuter Biennale" would stage art fair-style exhibitions in Miami suburbs, bringing a version of the Art Basel experience to South Florida neighborhoods beyond South Beach and Wynwood.

The goal of the grants is to connect South Floridians to the arts in a variety of ways. This year's winners, Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen said, "embody what the arts do: they inspire and create common experiences that connect us to each other and to home, Miami.”

The challenge now falls to the winning organizations to raise funds to match their Knight Arts Challenge grants. With luck, you could happen upon a mermaid debate or experience Stiltsville in virtual reality before long.

Here's the full list of this year's winners:

Wall (In)
Recipient: Arts For Learning
Award: $80,000
To explore a chapter of Miami’s history through a project where young artists from Liberty City study the remains of a segregation wall on Northwest 12th Avenue and create public art projects for the site

Curator Culture at The Bass
Recipient: The Bass
Award: $100,000
To spark dialogue with Curator Culture, a public conversation series led by Tom Healy that brings together the brightest minds in arts and pop culture to ask: What is really worth our time to look at, listen to, touch or talk about?

#NOBROZONE
Recipient: Borscht Corporation
Award: $150,000
To ensure stories by female-identifying filmmakers in Miami are told by expanding support for their work through the NoBroZone grant program, where only women are involved in the greenlighting process

Make Music Miami
Recipient: Buskerfest Miami
Award: $45,000
To make music accessible by celebrating international Make Music Day with performances and activities in public spaces throughout the city augmented by interactive technology

Commissioner
Recipient: Dejha Carrington
Award: $90,000
To inspire a new generation of art collectors by connecting local artists to new patrons with Commissioner, a series of commissioned works, stories and events around Miami narratives

Macro Directors for Microtheater
Recipient: CCEMiami
Award: $50,000
To experiment with theatrical formats by inviting renowned theater directors to produce plays in the center’s microtheatres, located in shipping containers, where each 15-minute piece is part of a larger story that audience members can see in any order

Ritmo Doral
Recipient: City of Doral
Award: $20,000
To bring more culture to Doral’s downtown by expanding Ritmo Doral, an international cultural event that will connect local artists and community members with artists in Doral’s sister cities

"Home Is the Pointe": A Residency for Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami
Recipient: Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami
Award: $150,000
To help keep local dance talent in Miami by offering professional opportunities at Dimensions Dance Theater of Miami and establishing a home for the company at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center

Preserving el Órgano Oriental
Recipient: El Ingenio
Award: $23,000
To revive the art of the “Oriental Organ” by creating a musical score for one of the instruments, made in Miami from Cuban models, which will be used in a theatrical street performance of Ibsen’s “The Lady of the Sea”

Stiltsville: a VR Exploration
Recipient: FilmGate Miami
Award: $75,000
To help Miamians explore iconic Stiltsville, the seven homes on stilts in Biscayne Bay, with a virtual reality interactive experience that looks at the structures, their caretakers and the underwater life formed under their protective shelter

We Got the Beat: Art Talk Radio Inspires Miami's Creative Community
Recipient: Fresh Art International
Award: $50,000
To provide a platform for critical discourse on the Miami art scene by expanding the Fresh Art International internet radio show with new virtual programming

From el Barrio to the MainStage: Theater and Dance Artist Commissions
Recipient: FUNDarte
Award: $75,000
To nurture the careers of Miami’s hidden talents, many of whom recently immigrated to the United States, by expanding FUNDarte’s successful “From El Barrio to the Mainstage” program to mentor underrepresented theater and dance artists

Pahokee
Recipient: Glades Community Media Partnership
Award: $30,000
To highlight the story of Pahokee, a rural Palm Beach County town populated primarily by people of color and new immigrants, with a feature documentary that follows four high school students coming of age worlds away from the economic advantages of coastal South Florida

Visionary Aponte: Art and Black Freedom
Recipient: Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance
Award: $50,000
To delve into the story of Cuban artist José Aponte, executed in 1812 in part for creating a now lost book of 80 paintings for slaves in sugar mills, with an exhibit that explores both his work and contemporary artists’ reactions to it

Havana Habibi
Recipient: Hanan Arts
Award: $100,000
To foster dialogue between Miami and Havana through film screenings, dance workshops and live performances on the themes of diaspora, dance and identity that were explored in the documentary film “Havana Habibi”

Unity Boulevard Film Series: Promoting Community Discourse Through Film
Recipient: Historic Hampton House Community Trust
Award: $100,000
To use film to inspire community conversations by partnering with Florida International University and Miami Jazz and Film Society on a film and discussion series

IlluminArts presents: A Female Force
Recipient: IlluminArts
Award: $18,000
To explore issues women face through an Art Song performance that combines the work of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta with a musical program presenting high-caliber female composers and musicians

The Miami Trilogy
Recipient: Jai-Alai Books
Awards: $35,000
To examine three pressing issues facing Miami – transit, sea level rise and poverty – and inspire action on them through a trilogy of books

BlackFlorida: From the South to the Southernmost
Recipient: Johanne Rahaman
Award: $40,000
To document black community life by digitizing family photo albums, combining them with photographic portraits created by photographer Johanne Rahaman and presenting them in public exhibitions and innovative media platforms

Flaming Classics
Recipient: Juan Barquin and Trae DeLellis
Award: $25,000
To build community, entertain and educate with Flaming Classics, a curated film series that pairs classic films from the queer canon with live performances from local drag artists

Hued Songs of Strength and Freedom
Recipient: Kunya Rowley
Award: $20,000
To illuminate the musical and theatrical contributions of people of color with a series of performances of works by African-American composers or inspired by African-American history

The Commuter Biennial
Recipient: Laura Randall
Award: $65,000
To engage the broader Miami-Dade community in the visual arts by bringing insightful and accessible artistic projects to places residents see daily on their drives to and from work

Unearthing the Lost Miami: Andy Sweet’s South Beach
Recipient: Letter16 Press
Award: $43,000
To preserve the history of 1970s South Beach and the Jewish retirees who lived there by restoring the photos of lauded photographer Andy Sweet and publishing them in a series of books

The On The Hook Project
Recipient: Mark Hedden
Award: $13,500
To tell the stories of Key West’s liveaboard community, boat dwellers who anchor in the shallows off Key West, in a photo narrative that explores this community living on the island’s and society’s edge

Hip Hoppa Locka: Muslim Hip-hop in Opa-locka
Recipient: MDC Live Arts
Award: $50,000
To explore Muslim identity through an artist-in-residence program with Muslim hip-hop artists who will create work with local students around racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia

Creative Time Summit / Miami
Recipient: Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs
Award: $125,000
To bring together a critical range of perspectives in Miami by hosting the 2018 Creative Time Summit, one of the world’s largest conferences on art and social change

"Voice of Miami" Play Development Lab
Recipient: Miami New Drama
Award: $150,000
To explore a piece of the city’s history by partnering with local filmmakers Billy Corben and Rakontur Productions to create a stage adaption of their acclaimed documentary “Cocaine Cowboys”

EO 9066 Commission and World Premiere by Kaoru Ishibashi (Kishi Bashi)
Recipient: Nu Deco Ensemble
Award: $45,000
To present the world premiere of a multimedia piece titled "EO 9066" by Kaoru Ishibashi, a Japanese-American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who explores the involuntary internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II

OCR Lincoln Memorial
Recipient: OCR
Award: $30,000
To honor Brownsville’s Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery and the lives and stories of the city’s black luminaries buried there with an art and research project led by artists Domingo Castillo, Adler Guerrier and their collaborators

Taberna Fábula
Recipient: Olympia Theater
Award: $80,000
To build on Miami’s spoken word scene by creating Taberna Fábula, a live storytelling series in Spanish at the Olympia Theater

Miami OURStory
Recipient: PATH: Preserving, Archiving & Teaching Hip-hop
Award: $80,000
To introduce teens to Miami’s landmarks by having them create multimedia, site-specific performance pieces that explore their stories and traditions, under the direction/mentorship of director Teo Castellanos and Brimstone127

Wake up Miami!
Recipient: PAXy
Award: $50,000
To bring the arts into people’s everyday lives by holding miniconcerts at Metrorail stations during the morning commute

Audiotheque: The Only Sound Art Gallery in Miami
Recipient: SFCA [isaw+subtropics]
Award: $40,000
To provide a way to enjoy unique sound art experiences by redesigning SFCA’s space at ArtCenter/South Florida and hosting sound art residencies that lead to exhibitions

Cuban Architects at Home and in Exile: The Modernist Generation
Recipient: Silvia Ros Photography
Award: $15,000
To explore the international importance of Cuban modernist architects and architecture, both on the island and in the United States, with an online and traveling exhibition

Art Vs. Extinction: Miami Mermaid Debates
Recipient: Siren Arts
Award: $30,000
To raise awareness about climate change and environmental justice with an irreverent, traveling talk show where mermaids host interviews and debate issues of biodiversity loss, global warming and other environmental challenges that affect all life on Earth

Foreverglades
Recipient: Sofia Valiente
Award: $75,000
To produce a photo book and interactive exhibition in downtown West Palm Beach that tells the history of the Glades and its pioneers through an anthropological and contemporary lens

Biscayne National Park's Golden Anniversary
Recipient: South Florida National Parks Trust
Award: $9,000
To celebrate Biscayne National Park’s 50th anniversary with art-driven events including exhibitions by emerging artists inspired by the park, musical performances and more

The Miami Rail Haitian Writers Translation Project
Recipient: The Miami Rail
Award: $25,000
To share the perspectives of Haitian writers by translating their works for publication and offering residencies for authors of note

#AfroOchoDance Festival: Pop-Up Afro-Cuban Dance in the Calle Ocho Heritage District
Recipient: Little Havana Tours and Sikan Afro-Cuban Dance Project
$25,000
To celebrate people from Cuban and African diasporas with eight days of pop-up Afro-Cuban dance performances in Little Havana during Black History month and Hispanic Heritage month

Miami Downtown Jazz Festival
Recipient: Bascomb Memorial Broadcasting Foundation/ WDNA 88.9 FM Public Radio
Award: $100,000
To expand the station’s nascent Miami Downtown Jazz Festival with jazz piano and festival poster competitions and a jazz jam session

Inspired by WLRN News
Recipient: Friends of WLRN
Award: $10,000
To celebrate South Florida and all its quirks by commissioning playwrights to create radio theater plays – for stage and broadcast – inspired by real stories in the news

Work Untitled: Miami-based Artist Magazine
Recipient: Olivia Ramos
Award: $35,000
To expand and archive conversations around the visual arts in Miami by expanding Work Untitled, an artist-run magazine that gives 80 percent of magazine sales back to participating artists

A Sistrunk Legacy: Kiki Arts Experience
Recipient: YMCA of South Florida
Award: $28,000
To transform the experiences of Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk residents into art by inviting them to share their stories over a barbecue meal, and then documenting them in song, dance and poetry to share with the larger community

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