Launched in 2012 to promote the city's creative momentum and bring new energy and encouragement to its artists and residents, the challenge was created to enable individuals, organizations, and businesses to make their art idea a reality. To be considered, applicants' ideas/projects must be arts-related and take place in and/or benefit Detroit; applicants also must be able to secure matching funds. Over the past three years, more than thirty-five hundred ideas have been submitted, exceeding the foundation’s expectations.
The grant from Knight boosts the Miami-based foundation's total investment in Detroit to more than $110 million since 2008, including a nearly $20 million investment in the arts in 2012 awarded as part of a two-pronged strategy designed to help larger cultural institutions in the city engage with the public and fund grassroots efforts through the challenge. Past challenge winners include Hardcore Detroit, which screened its documentary on the Detroit dance craze, The Jit, at a community celebration hosted by the Detroit Institute of Arts; Nick Cave's "Here Hear," which was presented by the Cranbrook Art Museum over six months; the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers, which puts true Detroit stories onstage; and "From Detroit to Baghdad: Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here," an exhibit and festival that highlighted artists’ books and letterpress broadsides commemorating the 2007 bombing of the famed booksellers street in Baghdad.
"Art binds people to place when it's good art and when it's authentic," said Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen. "Knight Arts Challenge winners represent dozens of projects that will use art to define and lift the soul of the community and will help bind us all to Detroit. If you think about a community where art is general and available to everyone, you begin to describe a community where we’d all want to live."
For a complete list of Knight Arts Challenge Detroit recipients, visit the Knight Foundation website.