News Column

Knight Arts Challenge names 88 finalists for Detroit program

June 16, 2014

By Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press

June 16--A project to expand the Write a House program that gives homes to writers in Detroit. The creation of exhibition space at the African Bead Museum. An initiative by Latino artists and educators to create a mosaic mural in the Springwells viaduct in Southwest Detroit.

These are three of the 88 finalists announced today in the Knight Arts Challenge, part of the John S. and James. L. Knight Foundation's three-year, $9 million challenge-grant program open to artists, organizations and businesses.

Up to $3 million is at stake in the second year of the program, which has a simple premise: It seeks projects that are about the arts and take place in Detroit or benefit Detroiters. Otherwise, anything goes, though all recipients have to find matching funds within a year. The challenge is part of the Miami, Fla.-based Knight Foundation's 2012 investment of more than $19 million in Detroit arts and culture.

The finalists announced today range from grassroots organizations and individual artists and entrepreneurs to large organizations like Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Winners will be announced in October. In the first year of the program, 56 winners were selected from a pool of 1,400 applicants and awarded $2.1 million.

Knight Arts Challenge Detroit Finalists 2014

(All descriptions were provided by Knight Arts Challenge.)

2739 Edwin / 9338 Campau: To create "Emergency Cinema," an exhibition of short documentaries made by Syrian filmmakers shown continuously on a storefront screen

555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios: To provide artists access to studios and equipment through residencies and monthly memberships at the gallery

5e Gallery: To explore the role and impact of women on hip-hop through a gathering of leading figures in Detroit's digital media, art, dance and performance communities

6th Street Dance Studio/WholeProject: To build connections between the urban dance communities in Miami and Detroit through master classes in each city and via video conferencing, anchored by Hardcore Detroit and Miami's 6th Street Dance Studio/Whole Project

-- mile (infinite mile): To foster critical artistic discourse in Detroit through a newly launched online journal of art and culture

A Host of People: To celebrate the do-it-yourself movement in both food and the arts by creating a site-responsive theater piece performed in community gardens around the city

African Bead Museum: To enhance an educational center for African culture by creating and renovating an exhibition and programming space for the African Bead Museum

Alibi Studio: To reimagine neglected Detroit spaces into dining rooms for curated, locally sourced meals shared by neighbors

Allied Media Projects: To expand the annual Allied Media Conference to include a full music showcase, further exploring the intersection of art and social change

Anders Ruhwald: To explore the transformative qualities of fire -- both destructive and constructive -- by creating "The Charred House," a permanent art installation inside a Detroit home where the interior is made of charred wood and black ceramics

Andrew Krieger: To weave art into people's everyday lives by creating Kamishibai Man, a bicycle-mounted wooden theater -- based on a Japanese tradition -- where performers use paper art to tell serial stories

ApeTechnology: To create a post-industrial homage to the Javanese tradition of shadow puppetry through a modern performance with towering, robotic puppets and gongs

Artifact Makers Society: To promote contemporary craftwork by establishing a museum and retail shop featuring the works of local artists who design for homes or other living spaces

ARTLAB J: To support Detroit Dance City Festival, a three-day celebration that provides an opportunity for local and national artists to present their work and strengthen ties in Detroit's dance community

Ballet Folklorico De Los Renacidos: To preserve Mexican culture by offering free, traditional dance instruction and costumes to Detroit's youth

Ballet Folklorico Moyocoyani Izel: To share the traditional dances of Mexico's La Huasteca region by partnering with a local dance group and professionals in Mexico to teach the choreography to Detroiters

Biba Bell: To invite the public to experience both dance and classic architecture by producing "It Never Really Happened," an intimate performance inside an apartment in the 1950s Detroit high-rise designed by Mies van der Rohe

Body Rhythm Dance Theatre: To celebrate Detroit's former Black Bottom neighborhood by creating a dance piece dedicated to its legacy

Broadside Press: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Broadside Press, a Detroit-based publisher for many leading African-American writers, by helping digitize its works

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History: To showcase how unique and connected global cultures are by hosting "Call of the Drum: A Drum Summit" featuring percussionists from around the world

CLAVE: To honor the spirit of Southwest Detroit by creating "InspiraciÓn," a mosaic mural in the Springwells viaduct, one of the area's main arteries

CMAP (Carrie Morris Arts Production): To present The Living Room Series, an artistic experiment with intimate space that includes contemporary puppetry and multimedia works in a renovated, abandoned house

Corktown Cinema L3C: To expand Corktown Cinema's offerings to include music, performance art and filmmaker and artist talks

Cranbrook Art Museum: To mount performance artist Nick Cave's "Biggest, Baddest Performance of All Time!," a series of spectacles around the city

Detroit Digital Stewards: To tell the story of Detroit's neighborhoods through sound by creating "Detroit Music Box," a suite of community radio shows produced by the people who live there

Detroit Drumline Academy: To build on a strong history of Detroit percussionists by having former drummers from Detroit-area schools teach and mentor middle and high school students

Detroit Economic Growth Association: To bring new life to vacant storefronts and properties by commissioning artists to design high-quality installations across neighborhoods and local business districts

Detroit Fiber Works: To push the limits of fiber as an art material by hosting free fiber art workshops for teens

Detroit Future Schools: To use the arts to help children tell their neighborhood stories by having them conduct research about their communities and convey their findings through "Data Murals"

Detroit Symphony Orchestra: To explore the role of art in shaping the history, recovery and resurgence of a city through "Coney Dog Jambalaya: Cities Collide," a cultural exchange between Detroit and New Orleans

DIRT TECH RECK: To create a video series profiling established and emerging artists that will explore the creative processes that drives Detroit's musicians

DittoDitto: To foster a dialogue around the arts and arts book by supporting a small publishing house focused on literary and visual arts books

Forward Arts: To enhance the natural and man-made space of the Dequindre Cut Greenway through a public art project

GARAGE CULTURAL: To engage Latino youth in the theater arts through a bilingual performing arts program in southwest Detroit

Hastings Street Blues Project / Marsha Music and Juanita Anderson: To explore the story of Detroit's mid-century, African-American community through a documentary on Joe Van Battle's seminal blues and gospel record store

Haute to Death: To showcase Detroit culture around the country by presenting the city's Haute to Death dance parties as a traveling exhibition

HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?: To stage an opera based on the occupancy, vacancy, demolition and repurposing of a home, exploring urban planning issues and the life cycle of houses in Detroit

InsideOut Literary Arts Project: To host a techno-poetry performance exploring the history of Detroit DJs and their contribution to contemporary music

Jacob Street/The Untitled Bottega: To transform an abandoned property next to a North End art gallery into The Coliseum, an outdoor theater and cultural hub meant to strengthen a neighborhood through the arts

Jefferson East Inc.: To transcend the symbolic and physical boundary between Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park through art interventions at Alter Road

Jessica Krcmarik: To preserve Detroit's historic signs by saving the typography around the city via photography and making them into useable, digital typefaces for local business and letterpress use

Kremena Todorova and Kurt Gohde: To promote civic pride via The Detroit Tattoo Project, where a local poet is commissioned to create a piece about the city which is then divided and drawn for use on free tattoos that, when reassembled, reveal graphic elements containing a secret image representative of the city

La Salonniere Nomade: To build bridges with the Arab world by presenting an exhibition in Detroit on Arab Spring contemporary art from North Africa, and having the artists co-create and engage with the community

Leith Campbell: To use a sundial set to the cadence of the sun to reinterpret a piece by composer John Cage that was meant to be played as slowly as possible

Lineage Studios International: To teach local women the art of hand weaving, and create a new textile line that represents the city, as part of an international network providing economic opportunities for women

Liquid Flow Media Arts Center: To provide a space for people with limited resources to create, innovate and network about art, business and technology

Literary Detroit: To jump-start a monthly series that includes communal composition, word games and more giving poets and audience members a space to co-create poems and stories and play with language

LO & BEHOLD!: To explore the array of cultures and music in Hamtramck by conducting "field recordings" of local music -- for example, a Bangladeshi street fair or a gospel trio -- presented with minimal editing

Loveland Technologies: To conduct a Story Census, whereby a production team records residents telling their stories and combines them into a short documentary about the city's neighborhoods

Marygrove College: To bring a northwest Detroit community together through the arts by staging a series of community-led art events that culminate in a festival surrounding Marygrove's campus

Matrix Theatre Company: To commission a well-known bilingual playwright to work with the city's Latino community in developing a new piece, "Caridad in the Comunidad"

Michelle Andonian: To mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide through a book of photographs and a live performances

Michigan Underground Group: To build on experimental musicians' interest in Detroit by inviting more artists from within and outside the city to share and record their works

Mothlight Microcinema: To highlight the work of local filmmakers by offering free monthly screenings of avant-garde and experimental film and videos where the artists discuss their work

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD): To invite international curator Jens Hoffmann to create a salon-style exhibition exploring a cross-section of Detroit's visual arts over the past 15 years

Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts: To make the Music Hall more accessible to Detroit arts organization by allowing theater, dance and music groups to use the space for free or at cost

Nate Young: To bring local and international musicians together by presenting The Maggotbrain Fest, a two-day festival featuring electronic music in all its forms

New Music Detroit: To spotlight challenging and dynamic new music from the late 20th century through today during "Strange Beautiful Music," a daylong marathon concert

Nina Marcus-Kurlonko: To strengthen Eastern Market After Dark, an annual event that spotlights galleries and other creative businesses in the neighborhood

Obsidian Blues Detroit: To empower Detroiters to re-imagine and co-create a united future through a series of meditation, writing and performance arts, culminating in an interactive show, "Playing the Matrix: Detroit's Shadow Effect"

Organic Weapon Arts: To form a new poetry slam series that will build a community of writers and performers to compete nationally

Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design: To expand Brightmoor's community of makers by turning an abandoned home into the Brightmoor Maker Space where neighbors can develop creative skills

Ponyride: To formalize and expand a visiting artist-in-residence program dedicated to producing art in and for Detroit

Popps Packing: To support the expansion of Popps' unique artist residency program, which caters to national and international artists with children, providing a holistic space for artists with families to create

Power House Productions: To celebrate the diverse work in art and culture that has been presented in the Banglatown neighborhood through a community-wide block party

Rachel McCollough: To foster the art of burlesque in Detroit by producing quarterly shows, ongoing classes and a costume rental exchange program

RecoveryPark: To support a new home for Detroit's traditional weekly blues jam session led by drummer John Estes

River Raisin Ragtime Revue: To highlight the city's role in creating ragtime music through workshops and performances at local schools and institutions

Rola Nashef: To foster a dynamic community of Detroit storytellers by offering Detroit Film Labs, a series of workshops to first-time filmmakers in underserved communities

rootoftwo: To explore how fear is used in contemporary media by creating do-it-yourself kits for making dynamic sculptures that change colors to reflect the prevalence of fear-related keywords in news stories

Rowe Niodior African Dance Company: To create community through a four-day festival exploring how West and Central African groups use music and dance to celebrate their culture

Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts: To expand an outdoor celebration of performance and installation art to neighborhoods across the city

The Heidelberg Project: To capture the richness of one of the city's oldest African-American communities by recording and sharing residents' oral histories

The Hinterlands: To explore Detroit's 20th century history of radical art and politics through The Radicalization Process, a yearlong performance series built on interviews, artifacts and historic footage

The N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art: To create Quarter Pop on Grand River, an arts incubator meant to strengthen local projects by providing access to new skills and storefront spaces

The Raiz Up: To use hip-hop to spark conversations about the city's cultural heritage and social issues through "Paint my Roots -- Pinta mis Raices," a series of concerts, workshops and collaborative murals

The Work Department: To use design for the public good by creating a highly visual "toolkits" about complex social or policy issue affecting Detroit that will help residents understand and take action

Trinosophes: To create a commissioning program that will fund new works in music and the visual arts and award a prize to an artist for their contribution to Detroit's culture

Walter Wasacz: To foster an exchange of ideas between Detroit and Berlin-based artists on ways to bring about cultural revitalization

Wayne State University: To prepare aspiring musicians for the rigors of college programs through a free vocal music institute

WDET: To bring the stories of Detroit's ethnic communities to life by partnering with artists and galleries to create pop-up installations featuring photography, listening stations and ambient sound -- as well as a segment on WDET

What Pipeline: To expand the narrative of the city's creative talent by publishing a series of art books on Detroit-based artists past and present

William Mark: To combine two of Detroit's iconic symbols -- gospel music and cars -- in the "Hammond-mobile," an organ-turned-automobile that will play music as it drives through Detroit neighborhoods

Write a House: To bring new vitality to the literary arts in Detroit by expanding Write a House, which awards renovated homes to writers based on the quality of their work

Y.M. Granata: To produce a true "TV Dinner," a media art installation event at galleries that combines video art and a meal

Young Nation: To create a neighborhood gathering place by engaging local artists, youth and residents in Southwest Detroit in designing and building an art-filled public plaza

YoYo School of Hip Hop: To use hip-hop to teach students about technology, physical fitness, career goals and communications skills through a summer camp


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