Performing Arts

75 finalists named for Knight Arts Challenge

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today 75 finalists for its seventh annual Knight Arts Challenge, which strives to enhance the local art scene.

Criteria for the contest gave applicants a lot of room for creativity. Applicants were asked simply to consider art projects that would benefit South Florida. The result was ideas that foster arts in unconventional ways, from transforming dreary underpasses to local watering holes into cultural destinations.

“This year, the contest has spread out around the community,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for the Knight Foundation. “We think it is important for it to go deep into the neighborhoods.”

For the first time, one of the projects, a monthly art series, is proposed for Doral.

“We want you to find art on every street corner, in every neighborhood, everywhere you look,” said Scholl.

Although the majority are in from Miami-Dade County, finalists also hail from as far north as Lake Worth and Key West. Many of the projects highlight the art of various cultures such as the Little Haiti Cultural Center’s plan to preserve a rare form of street festival music, Haitian rara, and the Mexican American Council’s proposal to create a mariachi academy for children.

Scholl says this year’s finalists also encompassed more individual or small collective artist projects, including Brian Butler’s plan to showcase concerts through a series of illustrations and exhibitions, and Bleeding Palm’s proposal to create a nonprofit animation studio.

The finalists chosen from the 1,200 submissions will now write a proposal to be considered by a committee with art expertise. The number of winners and grant money awarded depends on the quality of the ideas.

The winners will be announced Dec. 2 and all will need to match the grant awarded to them. The full list of finalists is available at