Chosen from a pool of more than fourteen hundred entries, the inaugural winners of the competition are mostly individual artists and small collectives. Grant recipients include the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, which received $50,000 to help Detroit teenagers develop their artistic and entrepreneurial skills by producing and marketing an online literary journal; the Jazz Network Foundation, which received $20,000 for a competition to showcase the best of the city's jazz scene; and Young Nation, which was awarded $12,000 to commission local artists to create a series of skateboard and bicycle designs; the Arts League of Michigan, which was awarded $100,000 to create an arts hub at the Carr Center; Complex Movements, which received $100,000 to explore the relationship between art, science, and social justice movements through a multimedia performance installation inspired by community-led efforts; and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which was awarded $120,000 for an outdoor video art installation that will illuminate dark neighborhood streets with the faces and wisdom of city elders.
The competition is part of a $19.25 million investment in the Detroit arts scene announced by the foundation last fall — an investment that includes support for smaller arts projects as well as grants totaling $10.25 million to some of the city's premiere cultural institutions, including the Arab American National Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Detroit is the third city, after Miami and Philadelphia, where the foundation has launched a Knight Arts Challenge.
"The arts help shape the shared experiences that connect people to one another and to their communities," said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at the foundation. "We hope that Knight Foundation's support will strengthen Detroit's impressive arts scene — and with it, the fabric of this great community."