Knight Foundation names 55 finalists to continue in 2012 Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia - Philly


Jan. 16, 2012 10:00 am

Knight Foundation names 55 finalists to continue in 2012 Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia

A quick scan of the 55 recently announced Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia finalists for 2012 (listed below) reveals a rainbow of ideas aiming for the edge of arts and technology in Philadelphia. As Technically Philly has reported previously, the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia is in year two of a three-year, $9 million initiative from the […]

A quick scan of the 55 recently announced Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia finalists for 2012 (listed below) reveals a rainbow of ideas aiming for the edge of arts and technology in Philadelphia.

As Technically Philly has reported previously, the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia is in year two of a three-year, $9 million initiative from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The initiative is designed “to draw the best and most innovative ideas out of local organizations and individuals seeking to transform the community through the arts.”

Grantees are expected to receive matching grants from other funders to impact the arts in Philadelphia. The contest was open to anyone with an answer to the question: “What’s your best idea for the arts in Philadelphia?”

A review panel says these 55 are the strongest from Philadelphia, due to be further slimmed down and finalized before being funded.

The 55 concepts, submitted by a diverse array of applicants, touch all aspects of the creative Philadelphia economy.

Tech-related ideas ranged from enhancements that re-envision the performance arts — the Iron Age Theatre proposed a project that gives patrons access to a series of live-streamed, mini movies throughout the city by scanning QR codes on their cellphones — to unusual twists on public spaces. David Clayton, who heads Curating and Programs at Breadboard and describes himself as something of a Renaissance man, offered up a plan to build a floating artists’ workstation on the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers.

The Hacktory, a crew of hackers dedicated to bridging the digital divide who snagged a Best of Philly award for “Best Adult Classes” in 2011, proposed gathering “a corps of interactive artist teachers who will share their knowledge and expertise in programming and engineering with Philadelphia artists.”


In its first year, the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia funded 36 projects out of 1,752 contestants. This year, the Arts Challenge began accepting submissions in October and closed the contest on October 31, 2011. Out of 1,267 applicants, the Knight Foundation has narrowed the field to 55 before announcing awards in the spring.

Check out all 55 ideas below. Which ideas would you like to see transform the Philly arts scene?

Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia 2012 Finalists

Artists and Musicians of Latin America

To cultivate new audiences for Latin Jazz by presenting “pop-up” performances of local artists using a portable stage

Arden Theatre Company

To diversify artistic offerings by presenting theater performances alongside the dozens of gallery events during Old City’s monthly First Fridays

Art Sanctuary

To celebrate two art forms that use the human voice to tell profound stories by creating a “Hip H’Opera” using the stories of urban life

Asian Arts Initiative
To provide everyday artistic experiences in Chinatown and South Philadelphia by creating site-specific works for nontraditional places like restaurants, storefronts and public plazas

Bearded Ladies Cabaret
To attract new audiences to theater – and use the medium as a way to explore politics, gender, sexuality and identity – through a series of original, late night cabarets

Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
To showcase diverse cultures by transforming a symphonic “pops” concert into a celebration of world music

Brandywine Workshop
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of this printmaking institution by commissioning 10 emerging and established artists to create prints

Campus Philly
To foster a lifelong appreciation of the arts by offering free or discounted admission to venues and performances for college students

Catzie Vilayphonh
To promote storytelling within the Lao-American community through a writing, performing and filmmaking workshop

Center City District

To help transform historic Dilworth Plaza by commissioning internationally recognized sculptor Janet Echelman to create an artwork inspired by the site’s historic association with water and steam

Center City Opera Theater
To attract more Hispanics to the opera by launching a Spanish-language opera festival featuring a new piece by a Philadelphia-based Hispanic composer

Center for Emerging Visual Artists
To bring visual art to a wider audience by placing locally produced art in public advertising spaces in the same neighborhood where the piece was produced

Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse Project
To spark dialogue about contemporary art by incorporating the work of internationally acclaimed light artist James Turrell into a new Quaker meetinghouse that is open to all

Community Cultural Exchange
To bring the South Street business district together through music and culture by introducing family-friendly street performances to the area

COSACOSA art at large
To transform overgrown and abandoned spaces into “sacred” art parks for the community by engaging residents to create visual and sound gardens in the Niceville-Tioga neighborhood

Crane Arts
To raise the international profile of local artists by organizing an artist and exhibition exchange between Crane Arts and London’s V22 Collection

David Clayton
To help residents fully experience the city’s two main waterways by creating a floating workstation along the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers where artists can interpret and explore the surroundings

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation
To use world rhythms – from cowbells to congas, beat-boxing to Bhangra – to learn about cultures at an interactive music and dance festival

Erica Hawthorne
To give a boost to local artists by creating a mini grant program to help cover their costs with awards ranging from $50 to $1,000

Fleisher Art Memorial
To engage the community in hands-on art making by expanding the reach of a mobile studio where participants create projects inspired by their neighborhoods

Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund
To help transform neighborhoods by turning blacktop lots into art-laden skate parks

Geoffrey Johnson
To foster appreciation for public art by covering publicly displayed statues in the city for a month – and then unveiling them with fan fare at a festival

GoKash Productions
To promote original plays through a free theater festival dedicated to the contemporary African-American experience

Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation
To engage new audiences in the visual arts by launching With Art Philadelphia, a two-year joint marketing program that includes late-night happenings for younger audiences at local museums

Iron Age Theatre
To create new performing arts experiences through a series of live-streamed, mini movies that patrons can watch throughout the city by scanning QR codes on their cellphones

Katarina Dudas
To develop the next generation of visual artists by pairing children with local artists to create site-specific environmental art in the Kensington community

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
To engage new audiences in the performing arts by creating a residency program in the Kimmel Center’s black box theater for innovative and emerging art groups

Little Berlin
To help transform the East Kensington neighborhood by turning an empty lot into an event space for musicians, art fairs and children’s workshops

Moore College of Art & Design
To introduce the work of local visual artists and filmmakers to a wider audience by establishing an urban drive-in movie theater on the Parkway

Music Row Philadelphia
To support emerging musicians and create a destination for live music by fostering the growth of music venues along Girard Avenue

To empower and inspire Philadelphia’s youth by providing them with weekly drumming lessons and performing opportunities

Norris Square Neighborhood Project
To preserve local Latino culture in North Philadelphia by creating a sound booth to record stories that will be featured in podcasts

Orchestra 2001
To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by presenting a new concerto based on the civil rights leader’s life and featuring local performers

Partners for Sacred Places
To expand the capacity of the city’s theater community by providing a new space for theater designers and visual artists at a decommissioned church

Philadelphia Art Alliance
To re-imagine public space and civic life by organizing an all-night, free arts festival based on the Nuit Blanche/Bring to Light events in Paris, New York, Miami and other cities

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
To encourage broader audience participation in the city’s visual arts by expanding “Philly Photo Day,” where the community is invited to take and submit a picture that is ultimately used in an exhibition

Philadelphia Theatre Company
To use the theater as a way to examine the United States’ education system with a work that actor/journalist Anna Deavere Smith will create during a two-year residency

Philadelphia Youth Media Collaborative
To support the emerging creative underground in Philadelphia by establishing a festival that highlights the next generation of filmmakers, visual artists, musicians and performers

To foster the development of local jazz artists by formalizing mentor relationships between established and younger musicians, where the elders teach life lessons, and emerging artists offer tips on using new media

RAIR, Inc.
To create awareness about sustainability through art and design by establishing a yearlong series of projects that allow local artists to experiment with recycled materials

Scribe Video Center
To explore the city’s relationship to mass transit by publicly displaying multiple digital video works in high traffic public sites

Sean Stoops
To support an innovative form of 3D storytelling by creating a series of outdoor video art events screened on local buildings

Sharon Torello
To engage younger audiences in classical music through the creation of a group with membership benefits that include discount ticketing and unique social gatherings

Sojourner Ahebee
To further cultural understanding by facilitating youth-led poetry workshops for Liberian teenage girls in Philadelphia and Liberia

Swim Pony Performing Arts
To weave the arts into the community by presenting revamped versions of plays in non-traditional spaces, including Eastern State Penitentiary and the Land Conservancy of Elkins Park

The Brothers Network
To introduce more diverse audiences to the performing arts by creating a multidisciplinary festival that features black male choreographers, filmmakers, actors, writers and composers

The Clay Studio
To explore the relevance of handmade ceramic objects in the 21st century by providing a handmade mug to people leaving coffee shops with disposable cups and encouraging them to post about their experiences on the Web

The Crossing
To introduce a wider audience to contemporary chamber music by establishing a series of new works designed specifically for a nontraditional venue – the recently restored Crane Arts’ Icebox

The Fabric Workshop and Museum
To create a new sculpture series by artist Daniel Arsham at the museum that will debut along with a live performance and explore the boundaries between the galleries and theater

The Hacktory
To promote the use of technology in the arts by developing a corps of interactive artist teachers who will share their knowledge and expertise in programming and engineering with Philadelphia artists

The University of the Arts
To promote economic stability for the city’s cultural community by offering support to emerging creative businesses with pre-seed funding, mentorships programs and workshops

The Village of Arts and Humanities
To develop young people’s awareness of the city’s vibrant cultural scene through interactive scavenger hunts led by local artists

The Wilma Theater
To enhance training for local actors by creating a series of master classes

University City District
To establish a new outlet for public art that showcases temporary installations to the city’s tens of thousands of daily commuters

Vic Reznik
To help promote the city’s cinematic identity by commissioning emerging filmmakers from Philadelphia to produce shorts for a new, local film festival


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