Knight Arts Challenge 2016: Application Tips From Winner Lolo Reskin of Sweat Records

Each year, the Knight Foundation accepts applications for the Knight Arts Challenge, which awards thousands of dollars to the best idea that seeks to transform the community through art. Here, a winner offers insight from her experience and provides tips for those interested in applying this year. Ideas are being accepted until May 2. Visit knightarts.org

I have applied for a Knight Arts Challenge (KAC) grant to fund projects that we at Sweat Records wouldn’t have been able to afford. We all have good ideas, right? And we have the skills and experience to carry them out. But few of us actually have the money to make them a reality.

When the challenge launched several years ago, I began to notice how hungry my customers were for locally made art and goods. I wanted to create an online store to supplement our location in Little Haiti and to get more of our items into people's homes. I applied for a grant and won.

Now, Sweat Shop Miami offers locally made music and is the official online store for bass hero Otto Von Schirach’s music and merchandise.

The first phase of the challenge, going on now through May 2, is the easiest grant application I’ve ever heard of. You simply state your idea and who will benefit. Be as concise as possible. All you have is 150 words to explain it; then hit submit. Done. If you’ve ever applied for another type of grant, you know how different and simple this one is.

Later on, if the Knight Foundation likes your idea, you will have to elaborate. You'll need to talk about how you would achieve your goals and measure your success. That first step of getting into the finalist round is the hardest part. But for now, put all of your passion into those 150 words and tell your best story.

A lot of people ask me for advice on winning, and I always tell them two things: First, ask yourself, Am I already working toward this on some level? If not, why? Knight wants to make sure you can carry out a project. They are more likely to fund a person or entity that has a track record of producing something valuable to the arts community.

And second, I also tell people that if you don’t succeed one year, keep working on your project and submit again the following year. When the challenge comes around, you will have more momentum behind you and your application.

Think about what you have to offer, and if you need extra help, you can get feedback at one of the two KAC Office Hours this month. The Knight Foundation is investing $2.5 million in the arts this year. Don’t let the chance for a piece of it pass you by.

Knight Arts Challenge Office Hours One-on-One Feedback
2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Macondo Coffee Roasters (2492 NW 89th Pl., Doral),  and 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at Panther Coffee (2390 NW Second Ave., Miami). Visit knightarts.org to submit an idea and knightfoundation.org for more information.

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