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 KnightFoundation.org.

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