“People are not afraid to tell their truth and that’s the kind of thing that resonates with an audience,” Askowitz says. “You walk out feeling like you’ve been at a musical or a rock concert. It feels good.”
Introducing Travelers and Residents to Global and Local Rhythms
Project: Educational and Entertainment Encounters
Recipient: Miami International Airport
“It’s a huge honor to be part of the Knight Foundation family,” said Yolanda Sánchez, director of fine arts and cultural affairs at Miami International Airport. Her program gained $40,000 to help continue its random acts of culture program that has seen ballet stars, musicians and other local talent burst out in full-performance before surprised travelers. The new goal is to increase its offering of global and local rhythms to serve an eclectic community.
Imagine hiking down to baggage claim, hardly a highlight of any trip, and suddenly you are immersed in the sounds of African drummers or jazz groups. Or, you’re waiting at the gate and instead of staring at the latest episode of Hawaii Five-O on your four-inch iPhone screen while you wait for your flight to arrive you get to enjoy a live performance by members of the Florida Grand Opera. So far Sánchez’s department has been responsible for 64 such occurrences.
“We run the whole gamut and this has been a huge success for our passengers and employees who also benefit from anything we do there. To have this award will allow us to continue that programming.”
Sánchez laughs when she recalls one of last year’s more amusing developments after a group of jazz musicians opened their cases and took out their instruments to play in one of the airport’s corridors.
“One of the musicians from one of the jazz groups had his case on the ground, casually, and people started putting in money. The guy made about $25 in three minutes!”
Celebrating South Florida’s African Diaspora Artists
Project: Art Exhibit and Festival
Recipient: Opa-locka Community Development Corp.
South Beach and Wynwood neighborhoods became rejuvenated thanks to an infusion of art and arts groups. Opa-locka, with its distinctive Moorish architecture, could stand to gain some of that international exposure and rebirth through the seed of its Knight grant, says Aileen Alon, arts and cultural initiatives coordinator for the Opa-locka Community Development Corp.
“We were founded in 1980 and mostly focused on affordable housing and real estate in terms of community. It wasn’t until 2010 when we started to look at arts as a possibility for community development,” Alon says.
The corporation is leveraging a $22 million HUD housing rehab grant to boost its low-income neighborhoods, and art will be a strategic component of that revitalization. The Knight grant will help produce a multidisciplinary juried arts festival and exhibit to coincide with major public art installations in Opa-locka. The theme of the art will be the African Diaspora. The corporation has already hosted artists, both local and national, for luncheons and tours of the city in hopes that the architecture will inspire them to create for an exhibit still a year or so away.
“All these artists starting to come work in the community has opened our eyes to see the role of art and culture in engaging a community and creating new opportunities for residents and stakeholders,” Alon says. “The long-term vision in which the arts and culture are integral to every day life in Opa-locka and having an event highlighting African Diaspora would be a part of that.”