“We’re over the moon,” said Daniel Hagerty, the Miami City Ballet’s new executive director. The group also has a new artistic director, Lourdes Lopez, following the tumultuous departure of founding artistic director Edward Villella.
The gift, Hagerty said, affirms the ballet company’s history of quality work and community engagement — and also the direction it’s taking now.
“It’s not just a financial show of support, it’s also a great emotional show of support,” he said.
For the 17-year-old Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami Beach, the gift will help the museum make its collection of more than 150,000 objects, rare books and archives more accessible to the public.
“I think the Knight recognition is a major endorsement of the great work that we’ve been doing,” said director Cathy Leff. “This next phase of growth is how the museum becomes a much more dynamic platform for providing much greater access to its collection both in physical and online spaces.”
The team behind the Borscht Film Festival — former classmates at the New World School of the Arts — won a $150,000 grant over two years through the Knight Arts Challenge in 2010.
“We never thought anybody in Miami would care about these indie filmmakers,” said Lucas Leyva, 25, whose formal title is Minister of the Interior. “It always seemed like those grants were for a museum or the opera or the ballet. That Knight would give us that grant, it meant that the city really wanted this and people who have power and knew things wanted us to continue doing it.”
Last year, the festival was held at the Arsht Center. Borscht has produced short films that have been shown at SXSW in Austin and at the Sundance Film Festival. And now, they have a new $500,000 grant.
“These are steps toward becoming the institution that we want to be,” said Leyva, who still lives in Miami. When the group won the challenge, he was so excited he had the foundation’s logo shaved into his hair. He said he’s been thinking about what he’ll do for an encore.
Said Leyva: “I found a barber who said he could do the faces of John S. and James L. Knight in my hair.”