'Moonlight' playwright among Knight Arts Challenge winners

Four Broward and Palm Beach arts organizations and the man who inspired the acclaimed, Miami-set movie "Moonlight" all collected big prizes Monday night, when the Knight Foundation named winners of its 2016 Knight Arts Challenge grants.

The Boca Raton architect Lynn Min, Seminole Tribe member Everett Osceola, the Pompano Beach-based Ali Cultural Arts and the West Palm Beach Hotbox Art Residency Program will share $2.78 million in prize money, doled out during a ceremony at Miami Beach's New World Center.

All told, the Knight Foundation will offer matching grants to 44 artists and organizations in South Florida, and winners must match those amounts to collect their winnings.

"Many of these ideas are telling our [South Florida] story, reflecting our past and tying it in to our future," says Victoria Rogers, vice president of arts for the Knight Foundation. "Knight provides the fuel, but the ideas come from the artists."

Osceola and April Kirk, executive director of the Stranahan House, will program the N8tive Reel Cinema Festival next year with their $50,000 prize. It will feature films and documentaries highlighting Native Americans. Another $40,000 will fund the Hotbox Art Residency Program, which will transform a row of shotgun-style homes in West Palm Beach into artist workspaces.

Min, of Boca Raton-based Michael Graves Education, will use her $40,000 reward for "Origami Everglades," a series of life-size origami sculptures of endangered animals. And Pompano Beach's Ali Cultural Arts will use $60,000 in funding toward "Miss Masters Audio," an audio-engineering training program for young women.

A pair of awards went to Miami-raised playwright Tyrell Alvin McCraney, whose semiautobiographical play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" inspired the critically beloved drama "Moonlight," an unflinching portrait of growing up gay, black, poor and bullied in Liberty City. The first award is a $25,000 Knight Arts Champions grant, which highlights South Florida's biggest art influencers, and the other is a $50,000 award for McCraney's new 305/One Festival, which will "celebrate unique storytelling" with performances and film screenings.

Other Miami-based grants went to a breakdancing competition at the Adrienne Arsht Center; a new art gallery at Everglades National Park; a "Guitars Over Guns" peace rally, involving local musicians playing instruments built from recast bullet casings and guns; and a 25th anniversary exhibit remembering Hurricane Andrew.

For a complete list of winners, go to KnightArts.org.

pvalys@southflorida.com or 954-356-4364

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