The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced grants totaling $3.9 million through the Knight Arts Challenge and Knight Arts Champions programs in support of artists and arts organizations in South Florida.
The foundation awarded grants totaling $1.8 million through the Miami Arts Challenge to forty-four artists and arts groups representing a range of disciplines. This year's winners include projects focused on artists' interpretations of environmental preservation and sustainability, representations of South Florida's diversity, and histories that share the experiences of Miami pioneers, immigrants, and women. Grant recipients include Barba-Marcotulli, a film producer-director team that was awarded $18,000 for Kanay — live performances and video installations that draw on pre-Columbian iconography, myths, and legends to re-present a decolonized Latinx identity; BlueLab Preservation Society, which will receive $85,000 in support of its ReefLine Miami Beach installation, an underwater sculpture park consisting of a series of artist-designed artificial reefs; the Institute of Queer Ecology, which was awarded $35,000 in support of art exhibitions, publications, and performances that prompt intergenerational dialogue around biodiversity and environmental degradation from a queer perspective; and Michael Marrero, who will receive $15,000 for Orisha: The Lost Saints, a photo series exploring the gradual disappearance of the Santeria religion from the Florida Keys through large format portraits of local practitioners recast as the saints they worship.
Through its Knight Arts Champions program, the foundation also recognized twenty-one community leaders for their dedication to the Miami arts scene with awards of $10,000 each that they can direct to local artists and arts organizations. Recipients include poet, educator, and organizer Aja Monet, who will give her grant to Poetry for the People, a project of the Community Justice Project; Mario Ernesto Sanchez, producing artistic director of Teatro Avante, whose grant will support Conecta: Miami Arts; and Nikisha Williams, COO of Opa-locka Community Development Corporation, who will direct her grant to the Art Prevails Project.
"Arts and culture connect people to place and to each other. A dozen years ago, we perceived a trend and openness toward the arts in Miami and decided to accelerate and leverage it. We’ve invested $165 million since then," said Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen. "Knight Arts Challenge winners and Champions reflect the quality, growth, and promise of our goal to make art general in Miami."