Miami Knight Arts Challenge Finalists: Wynwood Renovations, a Nigerian Film Festival, O Cinema Expansion

The Knight Arts Challenge, which offers matching grant money to South Floridaarts organizations, announced this year's 66 finalists this afternoon. In the mix: ideas to bring local visual art, music, film, theater, and literature to a broader audience, presented by organizations both well-known and newly formed.

Some finalists, like Art Center/South Florida, FUNDarte, and New Theatre, are seeking funding to continue or expand the work they do to bring culture to South Floridians. But there are a lot of new ideas on the table, too -- projects that would continue to prove that Miami is a viable arts town.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Awesome New Republic aims to "bring together the city's musicians, dancers and filmmakers into a multimedia, theatrical work that explores Miami's evolution from swampland to cosmopolitan city." You know you'd see that show.

O Cinema has its eye on yet another expansion: "To strengthen a center for independent film by upgrading equipment and adding a second auditorium to expand film offerings."

Teo Castellanos D-Projects plans to combine the efforts of two of Miami's most notable creatives, fusing "world culture, ritual and music in a uniquely Miami story through a one-act play and film produced by artists Teo Castellanos and Tarell McCraney."

Miami Art Museum of Dade County Association hopes Knight will help "celebrate the new waterfront home of the Pérez Art Museum Miami with a series of monthly arts projects produced collaboratively by local and international artists." Hey, it's our city's newest cultural treasure -- it deserves celebration.

Miami Biennale, the organization behind Wynwood's artist-designed crosswalks, have turned their eye on the rest of the neighborhood. They're requesting funds "to have Wynwood's urban infrastructure reflect the creativity of its residents and businesses by artistically enhancing all aspects from crosswalks to bike racks."

The Museum of Contemporary Art is hoping to double down on its film festival offerings. In addition to Optic Nerve, the museum seeks funds to "expose South Florida audiences to global art centers through a film festival focused on cinema in Nigeria, home to one of the largest film industries in the world."

Circ X, together with The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater, wants Knight funds to "create Miami's only resident cabaret at the Jackie Gleason Theater by converting the backstage greenroom into a permanent space for regular performances." Any project that gives us more Lemon in our lives is a winner.

Claire Breukel seeks funds to "strengthen Downtown Miami's arts scene through a series of independently organized "fringe" performances and installations taking place during DWNTWN Art Days." Downtown Miami will need projects like these if it's going to become the new Wynwood.

Hattie Mae Williams wants to bring Gatsby fever to Miami: "To explore the past and present of the historic Venetian Pool by creating a site-specific dance performance themed around the 1920's on the occasion of the site's 90th birthday."

One of the finalists will win Knight's People's Choice Award, based on South Florida votes and winning $20,000. Voting will take place later this year. Until then, you can browse the full list of projects at

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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle