What's Wrong With the Arts in Miami? Five Problems the Knight Foundation Should Solve

Maybe you love Miami's arts scene. Maybe you hate it. Either way, if you want to fix it, now's the time to act.

The Knight Foundation is accepting applications for its Knight Arts Challenge through Feb. 24, seeking ideas that'll make South Florida a better and more cultured place. In years past, they've funded individual artists, such as Teo Castellanos, and major institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art. They've also funded projects spanning the realms of visual arts, film, music, dance, and more.

It's a chance for artists to finally realize their creative goals, sure. But it's also an opportunity to fix some of the problems that have plagued Miami's arts scene for years. Here are a few ideas to kick-start your own Knight Arts Challenge ambition.

See also: Knight Arts Challenge: How to Win Your Own Arts Grant

5. The Wynwood Exodus

You've heard it from artists, gallerists, and hipsters alike: Wynwood is "over." As the neighborhood becomes more popular, rents and property values are rising, and some long-established galleries are being priced out.

The Knight Foundation can't solve this problem entirely; it'd have to buy up millions of dollars in real estate. But it could assist Miami's creative community in taking on a bigger leadership role in the development of Wynwood. Why not fund a consortium of Wynwood gallerists committed to working closely with the BID to enact policies that preserve the arts scene?

4. Preserving Miami Murals

If you've seen this week's interactive feature, you know that Miami is home to one of the world's most vibrant street art and graffiti scenes. That scene exists, in part, due to the annual Art Basel rebirth, during which artists from all over the world visit our town to paint the walls. The trouble is, there are only so many walls to paint, meaning that few works of street art last for more than a year before they're painted over by the next guy.

These murals deserve to live on somewhere other than our memories. So we're surprised there's no documentation or history project devoted to the scene. Whether it's a website, a book, or a museum archive, preserving the murals in photo, video, or other forms would be a worthy cause for Knight to consider.

3. A Place for Sticker Art

It's not as large and flashy as Miami's giant murals, but sticker art has begun to rival traditional graffiti as Miami street artists' medium of choice. You'll find these suckers everywhere: sidewalks, street signs, attached to the sides of buildings, parking meters, cars, and more. And that's, well, kind of a problem. As columnist Kerry McLaney pointed out in May, plastering stickers all over street signs can make the streets unsafe. Plus, they're likely to get scraped off of unwanted surfaces by property owners or government cleanup, which undermines the point of putting them up at all -- to be seen.

So why not come up with a dedicated space or spaces for those stickers to shine? Wynwood already has artist-designed sidewalks; why not artist-designed sculptures that are sticker-friendly?

2. Getting There

Miami's art scene is constantly expanding, growing in scope and size -- and that means there's no real center of activity anymore. There's Wynwood, sure, but also new galleries popping up in Little Haiti and downtown, Little Havana, Coconut Grove, and beyond.

What do all these places have in common? Parking is a bitch.

So an arts-focused public transportation option would be a welcome project in this town. Imagine an option that loops through all of Miami's major arts centers, stopping at regular intervals at PAMM, MOCA, and The Bass Museum in addition to gallery hubs, performing arts venues, etc. Perhaps it could be funded in part by Miami's own cultural institutions, running ads or audio promos for, say, the next Miami City Ballet performance or the next show at Locust Projects. You'd get more people to Miami's cultural institutions, and reduce the scene's carbon footprint, all at once.

1. Training TV/Film crews

Miami's TV and filmmaking skillshares, such as workshops at The LAB and through Indie Film Club, are teaching Miami film buffs how to create their own movies and other projects. It's a worthy cause on its own. But as more and more film projects choose to film in Miami -- just recently we've seen the Entourage movie, Jon Favreau's Chef, an HBO series called Ballers and an FX show called Hoke visit our town -- there's an increased need for trained TV and film crews in Miami.

Why shouldn't they be locals? Funding programs designed to give local filmmakers professional skills has never been more practical. We think the Knight Foundation would agree.

Ready to act? The Knight Foundation is holding a series of Q&A sessions for interested applicants. Check out the dates and times below, or visit knightarts.org.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

Send your story tips to Cultist at cultist@miaminewtimes.com.

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