Knight Foundation brings $20M for Detroit arts
The arts community in Detroit will get another shot in the arm with $20 million in new investments, the Miami-based Knight Foundation announced Wednesday.
The new funds come on top of $52 million in grants to artists and arts organizations Knight made in the city from 2012 to the present.
The foundation's interest in the Motor City isn't just a passing fancy, said Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen in an interview with The Detroit News on Tuesday.
"When we contributed $30 million to the Grand Bargain (in 2014) during Detroit's bankruptcy," he said, "people wondered whether that was going to be it. But it wasn't. This is a really long-term commitment to Detroit."
Some of the new grants are for two years, while others will stretch over five or six.
A total of $8 million will support innovation at five "anchor institutions" — the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Sphinx Organization, Michigan Opera Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
Another $3.175 million will fund mid-sized organizations, mostly to help them develop sustainable, long-term business models.
Among these 10 recipients are the Arts League of Michigan, the Heidelberg Project, CultureSource, the Concert of Colors and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, whose grant will go to support the area's small theaters.
Finally, $6 million will extend funding for the Knight Arts Challenge, a competition open to individual artists and arts groups.
(Starting in 2019, the Challenge will operate every other year. Winners in the current cycle will be announced Nov. 7 at The Fillmore in Detroit.)
Ibargüen said the $1.325 million going to the Community Foundation will benefit about 10 local theaters, though individual recipients have yet to be picked.
The DIA will get $2.5 million to strengthen museum technology and advance its experiments with digital programming in the galleries.
The Sphinx Organization will use its $1.5 million, which President and Artistic Director Afa Dworkin called "transformative," to expand Sphinx LEAD, its professional development and fellowship program for rising leaders of color in the world of classical music.
The DSO will apply its $2.5 million to a bricks-and-mortar effort to convert its Sosnick Courtyard on Parsons Street into an engaging public space with multidisciplinary programming, as well as adding digital content to the orchestra's facade.
"We really want to draw in passers-by now that the Qline is going down Woodward," said Jill Elder, DSO vice-president and chief development officer. "We want to create a window into Orchestra Hall so people will feel invited and included."
In all, Knight has invested more than $170 million in Detroit since 1960 with both its community and arts programs.
At Midtown Detroit Inc., Executive Director Sue Mosey argues Knight's contributions have been vital to the flowering of the Detroit arts scene.
"Identifying critical gaps in funding and assessing the needs of the arts ecosystem is a key role Knight plays," she said. "The result has been many projects that otherwise likely would not have been funded."