Knight Foundation invests in local arts organizations

Long known for its commitment to the arts, the Knight Foundation is supporting arts institutions that need more support than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. This month, the organization continues its support with the announcement of a $2.2 million investment in nine Miami arts organizations.

This latest investment follows the foundation’s Knight New Work 2020, during which 18 Miami-based artists were awarded $10,000 each to create new performing arts works that reimagine how the performing arts are created and experienced during COVID-19 and beyond.

“With the challenges of the pandemic, we’re seeing that the arts are more essential than ever,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight’s vice president for arts. “Knight’s investments in these Miami arts and cultural organizations build on our vision of a Miami where art is inclusive and accessible to all, even amid a pandemic.”

The grantees are finding new ways to share art during the pandemic and the funding from the Knight Foundation is set to support these innovations, including technological ones.

“Arts organizations have not only had to pivot in how they produce and promote their work, but they’ve also incorporated new strategies to increase their reach during a time of physical distancing and beyond,” said Priya Sircar, Knight’s arts program director. “Our investments recognize the incredible work these organizations do and accelerate their ability to expand programming, incorporate digital strategies, and in some cases hire new personnel to help increase audience engagement.”

Below are the grantees and their upcoming projects.

Third Horizon ($750,000): To support operations and a digital strategy to grow from an acclaimed film festival and arts collective to a primary source for developing Caribbean and Caribbean-American filmmakers in the U.S. The grant encompasses a five-year plan of support for core staffing, a new artist residency that will commission and develop works by at least seven Miami filmmakers per cohort and the expansion of the organization’s online programming.
Miami City Ballet ($250,000): To support MCB’s innovative outdoor production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” in December at Doral Downtown Park through the 31st. Knight’s investment allowed for the acquisition of an LED modular backdrop that served as the set for the ballet and where videos will be projected during the performance. Additionally, the funds will allow for video editing, promotional materials and a custom-designed digital storyboard used for production.
Featured image: Bookleggers Library ($250,000): To support the digital expansion and post-COVID adaptation of this donations-based library in Miami. The support will expand the library’s operations to include new online programming and will reimagine in-person programming throughout Miami-Dade and support core staffing. Currently, the library serves a growing audience with a mission of increasing general interest and access to literature.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami ($250,000): To allow the museum to hire curatorial and communications staff to work on the production of global art that connects with the local community. The Curator will oversee the museum’s artistic vision and produce new content around exhibitions and the museum’s permanent collection. The Director of Communications will implement comprehensive digital outreach strategies to Miami’s diverse community, work on increasing audiences and ensure ADA accessibility. Both positions will complement the museum’s vision of making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences, especially underserved populations.
Prizm Projects ($200,000): To present year-long arts programming focused on the African diaspora through exhibitions, public talks and digital platforms. Knight’s support will allow the arts organization to develop an online platform, which kicked off with the virtual Prizm Arts Fair this month. In addition, the investment will allow Prizm to showcase digital and in-person exhibitions and to hire an operations manager.
Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Inc. ($150,000): To allow ICA Miami to reach new online audiences with digital artworks by Miami artists starting in 2021. ICA Miami will use the grant to commission an ongoing series of digital works by Miami artists and to create new programs, culminating in a presentation at the museum. This new support increases audience access to new works via digital means.
Miami Dade College Foundation ($150,000): To support the digital transformation of the Miami Book Fair through virtual programming and the development of a new online streaming platform. The investment allowed for the development of the fair’s response to physical distancing — the Miami Book Fair Online. The new online streaming platform, which launched Nov. 15, is integrated to the Book Fair’s new website and includes pre-recorded author presentations, performances, conversations, live author events, Q&A sessions, education and entertainment material for children. Additionally, the funding has been used for marketing for the Miami Book Fair Online platform to reach existing and potential audiences, nationally and internationally. It will also assist with the virtual production of three new and existing programs: the National Book Awards Program, Here in Florida and the 2020 Poetry program.
Nite Owl Theater ($124,800): To create a unique drive-in theater experience in downtown Miami. The Knight Foundation’s support will enable the Nite Owl to transition from 35mm to laser digital cinema projection that is retrofitted into an airstream trailer. This mobile projection booth and state-of-the-art equipment will allow Nite Owl to host a one-of-a-kind drive-in theater experience: a 4-week film series in a green space covering an entire city block.
Miami City Ballet ($67,500): To support the commission of two digital dance works at Miami City Ballet. The funds assist with space rental, outfitting, production expenses and video production associated with the works. One of the commissions is “Places”, a remotely choreographed piece that was streamed virtually.
Coral Gables Community Foundation ($35,000): To support Illuminate Coral Gables, a tech-enabled public art exhibit in downtown Coral Gables scheduled for February 2021, which is intended to become an annual event. The free exhibition will safely engage Miami communities with digital art and sculptures presented in public spaces in Coral Gables. Knight’s investment will go toward artists’ honoraria, artwork fabrication, installation costs and production expenses.
Photo by Pedro Wazzan

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