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66 finalists named for lucrative Knight Arts Challenge grants

One of the remarkable things about the 66 finalists announced Monday for the annual Knight Arts Challenge grants is their range, both artistically and geographically.

Over the course of five years,  the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has distributed $86 million to grassroots arts groups big and small, popular and less known, from Palm Beach County to south Miami Dade County. The list is always vivid reminder of the artistic bounty we take for granted, this year perhaps more than any other.

The 2013 finalists include such diverse settings as the Palm Beach Opera, downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Day of the Dead parade, the Upper Room Art Gallery on Las Olas and Artists Spreading Art chalk muralists in Lauderhill, as well as Miami-based indie rockers Awesome New Republic and the Stiltsville Trust’s bid to support an artist-in-residence program.

“These finalists show the depths of our cultural community, the diversity of our creative leaders, and their fearlessness in presenting outside-the-box ideas,” said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation vice president, in a press statement.

Winners are announced in December, and again this fall the public will be asked to vote via text message for one group to receive the $20,000 Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice Award.

Among the $23 million handed out by the Knight Foundation during 2012 ceremonies in Miami’s Arsht Center, the People’s Choice Award went to the Arts Garage in Delray Beach, which beat out four Miami programs for the award. The Arts Garage also won a $30,000 Knight Art Challenge Award, and was the only Palm Beach County recipient of the evening.

More than $100,000 in Knight Arts Challenge grants were given to programs in Broward County last year. Recipients were Business for the Arts of Broward; the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood; Ranjana Warier of the Davie-based Rhythms School of Dance; and Fort Lauderdale’s Pablo Malco Foundation.

Here are the finalists and the project they hope to fund with the Knight Arts Challenge matching grant. For more information, go to

Art Center/South Florida: To provide opportunities for Miami’s artistic talent – and attract new creatives to the city – by strengthening the ArtCenter/South Florida’s residency programs

Artists Spreading Art: To inspire the next generation of creative minds by pairing professional artists with at-risk youth for a day of creating chalk murals in Broward’s Lauderhill neighborhood

Awesome New Republic: To bring together the city’s musicians, dancers and filmmakers into a multimedia, theatrical work that explores Miami’s evolution from swampland to cosmopolitan city

Bicinium: To inspire new, South Florida works by pairing local choreographers and composers to create site-specific performances.

Big Brother Art School: To encourage conversations around Haitian history by having students paint a mural that features the major figures of Haitian independence

Broward Center for the Performing Arts: To bring people together around downtown Fort Lauderdale’s riverfront through a series of outdoor performances featuring local talent

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

Circ X and The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater: To create Miami’s only resident cabaret at the Jackie Gleason Theater by converting the backstage greenroom into a permanent space for regular performances

Claire Breukel: To strengthen Downtown Miami’s arts scene through a series of independently organized “fringe” performances and installations taking place during DWNTWN Art Days

Community Arts Program: To introduce more young Miamians to jazz by creating an after-school, year-round Jazz Institute that will provide leading-edge training in America’s great art form

Community Television Foundation of South Florida/Television Station WPBT: To provide exposure for South Florida artists by producing profiles of 20 prominent artists under the age of 40

Florida International University School of Architecture + Arts: To develop the next generation of creatives by launching a summer high school program in conjunction with Harvard University centered on careers in the arts and design

Florida International University School of Music: To develop Miami’s ear by creating a lecture series on the history of recorded music that utilizes a prominent collection recently acquired by the university

Friends of the Bass Museum: To make provocative artworks accessible to the public by expanding the museum’s outdoor exhibits to include concerts, performances and other programming

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

Greater Miami Youth Symphony of Dade County, Florida: To bring a world-class violinist into Miami-Dade’s communities by inviting Japanese-American performer Midori for a week of master classes, outreach performances and a side-by-side concert with young musicians

Hattie Mae Williams: To explore the past and present of the historic Venetian Pool by creating a site-specific dance performance themed around the 1920’s on the occasion of the site’s 90th birthday

Indie Film Club Miami: To develop the local film scene by expanding the recently launched Interactive Film Festival, which focuses on cross-platform storytelling, screenings, training and events

Ivan Toth Depeña: To promote innovation in the local arts community by creating a series of augmented reality public art projects that exist in both the physical and virtual worlds

Key West Council on the Arts: To stimulate interest in classical music across generations by creating a month-long series that includes concerts for families and educational lectures

Mapou Cultural Center: To promote Haitian culture and literature by creating a Haitian-Caribbean Book Fair in Little Haiti

Meals That Heal: To provide an innovative funding source for the arts by organizing popup dinners at art venues where participants vote on a creative project to support

meme™ - media experi mental ensemble: To explore the combination of digital media and live theater by presenting a multimedia opera written by a South Florida professor

Miami Art Museum of Dade County Association: To celebrate the new waterfront home of the Pérez Art Museum Miami with a series of monthly arts projects produced collaboratively by local and international artists

Miami Beach Botanical Garden: To stimulate thinking about sustainable design by hosting a competition to create a sculptural shade structure that creates solar power and night lighting for the garden

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

Miami Biennale: To have Wynwood’s urban infrastructure reflect the creativity of its residents and businesses by artistically enhancing all aspects from crosswalks to bike racks.

Miami Book Fair International: To raise the profile of Florida authors by creating a popup lounge at the Book Fair that features writers whose works explore the beauty, contradictions, uniqueness and “weirdness” of life in the Sunshine State

Miami Contemporary Dance Company: To draw audiences to Overtown’s Historic Lyric Theater with a “souped up” dance series taking place when the renovated theater reopens  in 2014

Miami Gay Men's Chorus: To strengthen choral leadership by expanding the annual South Florida Choral Festival to include workshops on professional development, effective board stewardship and more

Miami Light Project: To deepen the dialogue between international, national and local artists by establishing a short-term residency program

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

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

Museum of Contemporary Art: 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

Noreen Legault Mendoza: To promote South Dade as a literary hub by creating a residency program for local writers on an organic farm where they will create works about Florida’s beauty and bounty

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

New World School of the Arts: To help talented, low-income students gain a competitive edge in auditions for collegiate arts programs by providing training through the Summer Theater Academy

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

Orchestra Miami: To explore Liberty City through the arts by commissioning an opera based on the neighborhood’s history and residents’ stories that will ultimately be performed by local students

Palm Beach Opera: To bring opera into the community through a series of free, outdoor community concerts that include a full orchestra and chorus

Paul Thomas: To enhance South Florida’s arts infrastructure by creating studio spaces where artists can access workshops for metal and woodworking, ceramics, glass, photography, computer design and more.

Pinecrest Gardens: To enhance the gardens’ reputation as a performing arts park by expanding programming to include international recording artists

Poly-Mode: To build up South Florida’s design and technology based art community through a co-op offering a range of equipment including digital printers, laser cutters and more

Puppet Network: To engage South Florida in a Mexican tradition by expanding a Broward-based Day of the Dead celebration that includes a giant puppet parade, mask workshops and family designed altars to loved ones

Puremovement Projects: To explore hip hop’s continuing impact through a festival presented by award-winning choreographer Rennie Harris that includes free dance classes, films and artist lectures

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

Shira Lee Abergel: To entertain audiences in an unconventional way by recreating the medicine shows of old in a wooden wagon that travels and transforms into a theatrical play space

6th Street Dance Studio: To encourage artistic growth in Miami by creating a residency program for young professional dancers and musicians

South Florida Center for Percussive Arts: To bring together and inspire local percussionists by providing free weekly master classes taught by well-known drumming artists

Stiltsville Trust: To use Biscayne Bay’s beauty to inspire artists by creating an artist-in-residence program at the seven remaining houses of Stiltsville

Studio Enrique Martínez Celaya: To strengthen the local visual arts community by offering a series of lectures by internationally recognized art historians, critics and philosophers discussing the intersection of arts and ethics

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

Teo Castellanos D-Projects: 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

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

The Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida: To provide a platform for recognized and emerging spoken word artists during a monthly series that will eventually fill the stage of Overtown’s Historic Lyric Theatre when it reopens

The M Ensemble Company: To inspire an appreciation for theater by having Florida Memorial University students work behind the scenes on a production

The Miami Rail: To inspire critical writing by supporting a visiting writers program where authors hosts lectures, roundtables and workshops

The Motivational Edge: To help disadvantaged youth express themselves by strengthening an arts program in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood where they can expand their horizons through creative writing and lyrical expression

Tigertail Productions: 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

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

Upper Room Art Gallery: To preserve the artform of creating dugout canoes by organizing a twice annual Paddle Up featuring Seminole and Miccosukee canoes with participants in traditional dress

WDNA-FM: To foster a community of jazz afficionados by expanding WDNA’s monthly Jazz Encounter to a video audience through live broadcasts and video archives

WLRN: To showcase the local music community and engage listeners through a live concert and interview series featuring South Florida musicians and songwriters

Wynwood Radio: To provide a platform for the Do-It-Yourself-Spirit that fuels Wynwood by expanding an online community radio station providing streaming audio and video coverage of innovative events

Zoetic Stage: To offer Miami playwrights a platform by producing two world-premiere plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

Get daily updates on South Florida entertainment and things to do at and on Twitter at @BenCrandell.



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