Knight Arts Challenge winners show South Florida’s cultural strength, diversity


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New residency programs strengthen artistic talent in Miami

ArtCenter/South Florida - $120,000

To provide opportunities for Miami’s artistic talent and to attract new creatives to the city by strengthening the center’s residency programs

Multimedia work explores Miami’s past and present

Awesome New Republic - $40,000

To bring together the city’s musicians, dancers and filmmakers to produce a multimedia theatrical work that explores South Florida’s evolution from swampland to modern metropolis

Spoken word event provides platform for artists

The Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida - $50,000

To provide a platform for recognized and emerging spoken word artists during a monthly series that will eventually be presented at Overtown’s historic Lyric Theater when it reopens in 2014

Cannonball launches educational effort

Cannonball Miami - $120,000

To provide local artists with opportunities for growth through a new educational program that explores experimental thinking in art production and education

Miami Beach gets resident cabaret group

Circ X and The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater - $50,000

To create Greater Miami’s only resident cabaret at the Jackie Gleason Theater by converting the greenroom into a permanent space for regular performances

Training program instills kids with love of jazz

Community Arts Program - $100,000

To introduce more young Miamians to jazz by creating an after-school jazz institute that provides leading-edge training in America’s great art form

High school students explore careers in art and design

Florida International University College of Architecture + Arts - $90,000

To develop the next generation of creatives by launching a summer career discovery program for high school students centered on art and design

Public art and performances presented in extended outdoor program

Friends of the Bass Museum - $75,000

To make provocative artworks accessible to the public by expanding the museum’s outdoor public exhibitions to include concerts, performances and other programming

Annual GLBTQ performing arts festival expands community engagement efforts

FUNDarte - $50,000

To engage South Florida’s GLBTQ youth through the arts by growing the annual Out in the Tropics Performing Arts Festival to include educational workshops in high schools and community centers

GableStage presents plays for local schools

GableStage - $80,000

To promote an appreciation for theater by presenting one of GableStage’s productions to local high schools and middle schools, with a study guide and post-performance discussion

Historic sites play starring role in dance performances

Hattie Mae Williams - $8,000

To explore the past and present of the historic Venetian Pool and the Miami Marine Stadium by creating a site-specific dance performance

Club launches interactive film and new technology festival

Indie Film Club Miami - $100,000

To develop the local film scene by expanding Filmgate, the recently launched interactive film festival, which focuses on cross-platform storytelling, interactive screenings and more

Augmented reality used to transform public art

Ivan Toth Depeña - $50,000

To promote innovation in the local arts community by creating a series of multimedia, augmented-reality public art projects that exist in both the physical and virtual worlds

Keys program instills family interest in classical music

Key West Council on the Arts - $7,000

To spur interest in classical music across generations by creating a monthlong series that includes family concerts and educational lectures

First Haitian-American Book Fair launches in 2014

Mapou Cultural Center


To promote Haitian culture and literature by creating a Haitian-American book fair in Little Haiti

Pop-up dinners fund creative projects

Meals That Heal - $40,000

To provide an innovative funding source for the arts by organizing pop-up dinners at arts venues where participants vote on a creative project to support

FAU professor presents multimedia opera

meme – media experi mental ensemble - $2,500

To explore the fusion of art, music and technology by presenting a multimedia opera written by a southern Florida professor

Miami Beach Cinematheque creates dialogue around filmmaking

Miami Beach Film Society - $50,000

To foster a deeper appreciation for cinema through a series of conversations on the art of filmmaking led by local and visiting film critics

Book Fair “Swamp” lounge celebrates Florida

Miami Book Fair International - $120,000

To raise the profile of Florida authors by creating a pop-up lounge at the Book Fair that features writers whose works explore the beauty, contradictions, uniqueness and weirdness of life in the Sunshine State

Dance series to celebrate Lyric Theater reopening

Miami Contemporary Dance Company - $80,000

To draw audiences to Overtown’s historic Lyric Theater with a souped-up dance series taking place when the renovated theater reopens in 2014

Choral groups gain professional training

Miami Gay Men’s Chorus - $10,000

To strengthen choral leadership by expanding the annual South Florida Choral Festival to include professional development workshops

Orchestral academy expands to Liberty City

Miami Music Project - $100,000

To empower more children to play and appreciate classical music by expanding the project’s orchestral academy to a third location, Liberty City

Conversation series demystifies the arts

Miramar Cultural Trust - $12,000

To provide deeper insights into arts and culture through a new series where professional artists perform and engage in a dialogue with the audience

Nollywood films get spotlight at MOCA

Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) - $60,000

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

One-act play festival travels to Miami neighborhoods

New Theatre - $35,000

To sprinkle theater throughout Miami-Dade County by expanding a one-act play festival to four locations from Hialeah to Homestead, Kendall and the beaches

Summer academy preps students for college auditions

New World School of the Arts - $25,000

To help talented low-income students gain a competitive edge in auditions for collegiate arts programs by providing training through the Summer Theater Academy

New technology, viewing space for independent cinema

O Cinema - $45,000

To strengthen a center for independent film by upgrading equipment and adding a second auditorium to expand film offerings

Palm Beach Opera goes al fresco

Palm Beach Opera - $80,000

To bring opera into the community through a series of free outdoor community concerts that include a full orchestra and chorus

Co-op is hub for design and tech-based art

Poly-Mode - $40,000

To build up South Florida’s design and technology-based art community through a co-op offering access to a range of equipment

Day of the Dead celebration to expand

Puppet Network - $40,000

To engage South Florida in the Latin American tradition of Dia de los Muertos by expanding the Broward-based celebration that includes a giant puppet parade, mask workshops and family-designed altars for loved ones

Youth learn art of hip-hop in summer workshop

Puremovement Projects - $50,000

To explore the continuing global impact of hip-hop dance through a weeklong series of free classes and workshops featuring award-winning choreographer Rennie Harris and other hip-hop pioneers

Seraphic Fire to become ensemble-in-residence at South Dade cultural center

Seraphic Fire - $180,000

To bring the award-winning vocal ensemble to new audiences through regular masterworks concerts at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center

Traveling theater wagon pays homage to medicine shows of old

Shira Lee Abergel - $50,000

To entertain audiences unconventionally by reimagining the medicine shows of old in a wooden wagon that travels and transforms into a theatrical playing space

Dancers and musicians collaborate in residency program

6th Street Dance Studio/Whole Project - $45,000

To encourage artistic growth in Miami by creating a residency program for young professional dancers and musicians

Drumming community gathers for master classes

South Florida Center for Percussive Arts - $50,000

To foster a sense of community among an often-disparate group of local percussionists by providing free weekly master classes taught by well-known drumming artists

Lecture series on arts and ethics expands

Studio Enrique Martínez Celaya - $14,000

To strengthen audiences for the visual arts by offering a series of lectures on the intersection of arts and ethics

Festival celebrates international children’s theater

Teatro Prometeo - $50,000

To celebrate children’s theater from around the world by launching a free international children’s theater festival in South Florida during Miami Book Fair International

One-act play explores unique Miami story

Teo Castellanos D-Projects - $25,000

To fuse 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

Bakehouse opens metal foundry

The Bakehouse Art Complex - $50,000

To strengthen a studio art space by updating The Bakehouse’s workshops and adding a foundry for casting metals

Program immerses university students in theater production

The M Ensemble Company - $30,000

To inspire an appreciation for theater by having Florida Memorial University students work behind the scenes on a production

Nationally recognized writers to participate in local residencies

The Miami Rail - $40,000

To inspire great writing by supporting a visiting-writers program where authors host lectures, roundtables and workshops

Center provides creative outlet for Miami youth

The Motivational Edge - $50,000

To strengthen an arts program that enables disadvantaged youth to demonstrate their feelings through creative writing and lyrical expression

FLA-FRA celebrates French and Miami-made art

Tigertail Productions - $75,000

To explore art through the perspectives of French and Miami artists during a series of site-specific and new performances that will make up FLA-FRA (Florida-France) in 2014.

Poet Donald Justice gets his due

University of Wynwood - $15,000

To celebrate renowned poet Donald Justice through a new book and conference in his hometown of Miami, where he is virtually unknown

Event celebrates the craft of Florida’s dugout canoes

Upper Room Art Gallery - $30,000

To preserve the traditional art form of creating dugout canoes by organizing a seasonal Paddle Up, featuring Seminole and Miccosukee canoes

Evening art series builds excitement for Pérez Art Museum Miami

Pérez Art Museum Miami - $120,000

To celebrate the new waterfront home of Pérez Art Museum Miami with a monthly series of free evening public programs

Jazz lovers come together through WDNA encounters

WDNA-FM - $40,000

To foster a community of jazz aficionados by expanding WDNA’s Jazz Encounter to a video audience through live broadcasts and video archives

TV series profiles region’s artists, cultural rise

WPBT2/ Community Television Foundation of South Florida - $50,000

To provide exposure for South Florida artists by producing profiles of 20 prominent artists under the age of 40

South Florida playwrights present world premieres

Zoetic Stage - $25,000

To offer South Florida playwrights a platform by producing two world-premiere plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

They range from an old-fashioned traveling medicine show to a cutting edge interactive virtual reality art project, from reviving the work of a near-forgotten poet to dances at the reviving Miami Marine Stadium, from programs bringing foreign artists to South Florida and Miami artists into the city’s schools and neighborhoods.

What the 49 wildly disparate recipients of the sixth annual Knight Arts Challenge award share is an original vision for expanding culture in South Florida. The winners were announced Monday evening in a ceremony and performance at the New World Symphony on Miami Beach.

“Asking for the best art ideas from every corner of the community has resulted in a richness of creativity that we never could have imagined,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts for the Knight Foundation.

The grants totaled $2.72 million. The most generous was $180,000 allowing acclaimed chorale Seraphic Fire to become the ensemble-in-residence at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. The smallest was $2,500 for a multi-media opera by Florida Atlantic University professor Joey Bargsteen. Most awards between $25,000 and $100,000. Since the Challenge program launched in 2008, it has given out $22.1 million to 167 projects, selected from over 7,500 ideas submitted in a short, simple online application.

Director, actor and writer Teo Castellanos won the $20,000 People’s Choice Award, beating out four other groups in a vote-by-text campaign. It came in addition to his challenge grant of $25,000. The money will help him create Third Trinity, a play and film about two cousins, one a Puerto Rican nationalist, the other a drug smuggler, who grew up with Castellanos in Carol City. His director and collaborator will be Tarell Alvin MacCraney, an award-winning Liberty City-raised playwright and director who started his career as a student of Castellanos in 1995.

“It’s a huge deal – money is always good but acknowledgement is the biggest thing,” said Castellanos. “It’s about these two very different philosophies of life, from communist to cocaine cowboy… and that juxtaposition which is very important in Miami.”

Several themes emerged among the winners. One was a focus on obscure or forgotten parts of Miami history. They include $15,000 for the University of Wynwood’s book and conference on Miami-born poet Donald Justice, a Pulitzer Prize winner almost unknown in his home city, and $8,000 for choreographer Hattie Mae Williams’ site-specific dances at the Miami Marine Stadium and the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables. Two projects were funded for Overtown’s historic Lyric Theater, slated to reopen in 2014: $50,000 for a spoken-word series created by the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida, and $80,000 for Miami Contemporary Dance Company’s Up and Over Overtown dance series.

“The community has matured culturally… and with that comes reflection and looking back at what got us here,” says Scholl.

One result of that growth seems to be the number of experimental multi-media or interactive projects in this year’s group of winners. Among them are Ivan Toth Depeña’s public art projects, which will be viewed with a specially designed mobile app that will generate virtual performances, and Indie Film Club Miami’s interactive film and new technology festival, which employs immersive events and social media. “These ideas are the conscious reflection of where we’re going as a society in terms of the audience wanting to be involved, to curate their own experience,” says Scholl. “Artists are beginning to take advantage of those tools.”

Winners included educational programs such as the Miami Music Project, launched with a Knight Challenge grant five years ago, which got $100,000 to expand its orchestral academy for public school students to a third location in Liberty City. Major public art programs include $120,000 for a monthly evening performance series at the Perez Art Museum Miami and $75,000 to extend the massive Art Public outdoor art exhibit at the Bass Museum, from the week of Art Basel Miami Beach to the end of April.

And several groups are hosting programs for visiting artists, speakers, and critics, all ways of connecting Miami’s art scene to the world.

“There’s more of a hunger locally to be connected on a more international level,” says Scholl. “It’s how we integrate the art scene globally, not just here and New York or here and L.A., but how to get those people here and get our people out there.”

Among them is the ArtCenter/South Florida, a cultural pioneer that helped transform Lincoln Road and South Beach when it opened 30 years ago. The complex of galleries and studios got $120,000 for an artist residency program that will allow it to provide longterm studio space, living quarters, and produce shows for artists from South Florida and beyond.

“Now we can take the lead and make this program strong,” says ArtCenter executive director Maria Del Valle. “The most important thing besides the money is the recognition. We are 30 years old but we needed this big push. They are saying we are on the right track for this new era.”

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