Knight Arts Challenge: 75 grant finalists named

Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village, the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency and a Broward County poetry “Super Bowl” by the Jason Taylor Foundation are among the finalists announced Tuesday morning for a Knight Arts Challenge grant in the annual contest that aims to fund the best arts ideas in South Florida.

The winners will be announced Dec. 1 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which handed out nearly $3 million in grants last year. In the six years since its inception, the grant program has distributed more than $86 million to the local arts community.

The finalists, chosen from more than 1,110 submissions, include proposals by well-known institutions, from Miami City Ballet and the Frost Museum of Science to the retailer Books and Books and Classical South Florida radio, but the Knight grants are especially effective for what they do to promote creative ideas on the fringes from the likes of DJ Le Spam, the TM Sisters and the education mentoring project Guitars Over Guns.

And as many recipients will tell you, the money is nice, but the stamp of approval from the Knight Foundation and the legitimacy that it confers on these sometimes abstract ideas may be just as valuable. 

The FAT Village Arts District aims to use its grant “to promote cutting-edge contemporary art  by expanding the reach of the Projects Contemporary Art Space, which provides a home for artists to create and present experiential work.”

The Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency proposal will develop a performance series devoted to the heritage and contemporary art of the city’s Guatemalan community.

A “Super Bowl” of poetry, sponsored by the foundation run by former Miami Dolphins star Jason Taylor, would engage students in Broward County schools in a friendly competition.

Ranjana Warier, whose Davie-based Rhythms School of Dance, won a $25,000 Knight grant in 2012, is again a finalist for her plan to set traditional Indian dance to the rhythms of Afro-Caribbean poetry by Adrian Castro.

Here is a list of the other finalists for 2014 Knight Arts Challenge grants. For more information, go to

Amanda Keeley: To foster conversations on the visual arts with a pop-up store for art books that travels around Miami and is accompanied by lectures and programming

Andrew Yeomanson (DJ Le Spam): To preserve the art of analog recording by improving a studio that allows local musicians the chance to record on vintage equipment or preserve their works now cataloged on older formats

ArtCenter/South Florida: To explore Miami’s relationship to the water through one-month artist residencies aboard the “Maribel,” a wooden boat built in 1984, the same year ArtCenter was founded

Artists in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE): To bring a bit of the Everglades into the city by creating billboards emblazoned with large-scale, artful images of South Florida wildlife

Arts & Drafts Miami: To change the dynamic of cultural experiences by offering free art lessons for curious Miamians at local watering holes

Arts for Learning/Miami Inc.: To engage young minds through the arts by expanding a lauded artist-in-residence program - pioneered by Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va.  - to preschools throughout South Florida

BFI (Bas Fisher Invitational): To raise the profile and importance of small, artist-run galleries by hosting a national gallery swap where shows from BFI will be exchanged with galleries around the country

Bleeding Palm: To further develop Miami’s film community by creating a nonprofit animation studio that will produce professional animations while training students and local artists to develop their own work

Bookleggers: To bring literature to more people by expanding a community mobile library that provides books for free, a trade or by donation

Books & Books: To bring great literature into more homes by live-streaming and archiving Books & Books’ Author Events featuring noted writers from a variety of genres

Books Are Nice Inc. and Creative Creative: To make bookmaking and printmaking accessible to South Floridians by creating  a space for – and the training to use – a press, binding equipment and more