Knight Arts Challenge Miami People's Choice Award: Miami Arts Groups Vying for $20K

The 2013 Knight Arts Challenge Miami People's Choice Award puts the power in the people's hands. The foundation gives five non-profit arts-based organizations the chance to not only be recognized on a large platform, but to win a grand prize of $20,000.

Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts of the Knight Foundation, said he's seen involvement in the arts increase thanks to the community's enthusiasm. "I think it's another avenue for the Knight Arts Challenge to penetrate deeper into the community. There are a lot of ways to [culturally] participate in Miami now," said Scholl. "...That's the nice thing about Miami's cultural scene now. It's able to attract a large...base of the local population."

See also: Knight Foundation Injects $23 Million Into South Florida's Arts Community

According to Scholl, the finalists -- the Indie Film Club Miami; the Motivational Edge, a nonprofit organization that runs arts programs for youth; the Mapou Cultural Center, a Little Haiti center offering classes in Haitian dance, crafts, literature, and history; Puppet Network, a Fort Lauderdale-based puppet theater company; and Miami actor, director, and writer Teo Castellanos, who's working on a new solo show -- embody the spirit of artistic excellence and the influence of grassroots organizations.

The Indie Film Club Miami, which focuses on providing the community with exposure to independent films, and The Motivational Edge, which focuses on using the arts to instill academic excellence and self-confidence in Miami's youth, are thrilled for the platform they have been given.

See also: How to Win a Grant From the Knight Foundation: Tips From the Inside

"The Knight Foundation is simply amazing. They support transformational ideas that engage communities and foster the arts," wrote Diliana Alexander, executive director of the Indie Film Club Miami in an email. "We were incredibly honored to be nominated for the People's Choice Award because that meant that our efforts to empower the independent film community in South Florida, as well as our desire to inspire and create new visual storytelling projects through Filmgate Interactive are recognized... The Knight Foundation has changed the artistic landscape of South Florida and is instrumental in the cultural Big Bang of the past few years."

Ian Welsh, founder/CEO of the Motivational Edge, echoed the same sentiment. "As an organization, we're absolutely humbled and excited because we've applied for the Knights Arts Challenge for three years in a could say this is our coming out with the Knight Foundation," he said. "We're absolutely thrilled to be recognized for our tireless efforts with the youth."

See also: Knight Foundation's People's Choice Award Lets Voters Decide Who Gets Its Money

Visit to read how to vote for your favorite organization by phone and how to enter your idea for next year's Knight Arts Challenge, starting in February. The deadline to vote is Nov. 15.

--Monique Jones

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Miami New Times staff