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Knight Foundation gives $1.8M for Metro-area art

The Detroit News

The national Knight Foundation is awarding more than $1.8 million in grants to some 29 Metro Detroit finalists proposing arts-based initiatives in the area, officials announced Wednesday.

The prizes are part of the group’s annual Knight Arts Challenge, which aims to fund ideas for engaging and enriching communities. This year, the foundation is giving away $7.8 million to support ideas in Detroit and three other cities — Akron, Ohio; Miami and St. Paul, Minnesota.

The 29 Metro Detroit winners were winnowed from a pool of 900 submissions and “capture the energy of the city, its people and the connections between them,” officials said in a statement.

Among the awardees:

■Tiff Massey won $200,000 to provide a place for reflection and gathering at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History with a sculpture titled SPRING.

■Young Nation received $135,000 to transform its “front porch” into space for cultural exchange by inviting national and international artists for short-term residencies in southwest Detroit.

■Ghana ThinkTank and Central Detroit Christian CDC was awarded $135,000 to create a Moroccan-style riad, or community courtyard, in Detroit’s North End, formed by a series of soaring stainless steel arches cut with intricate Islamic patterns.

Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit gained $125,000 to train more minorities for theater careers by teaching youth to work backstage in carpentry, sound engineering and lighting design.

Michigan Opera Theatre won $45,000 to launch “The Summer King,” an opera based on the life of Negro League baseball star Josh Gibson, accompanied by community programming centered on the stories of groundbreaking African-American artists and athletes.

Arab American National Museum earned $50,000 to showcase films that present the depth of Arab and Arab-American culture by expanding the museum’s annual film festival.