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Detroit steps up, takes Knight Arts Challenge in record numbers


DETROIT – Detroiters submitted more than 1,400 ideas to the Knight Arts Challenge – the largest number per capita in the contest’s three-city, six-year history.

“One word: Wow,” said Dennis Scholl, VP/Arts for Knight Foundation. “When we decided to bring the challenge to Detroit, we knew the city’s reputation for being a center for artistic excellence. But this outpouring of ideas shows just how excited and engaged the cultural community is in shaping the city’s future.”

A project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Knight Arts Challenge is a community-wide contest funding cultural projects that engage and enrich the city. In addition to Detroit, the Knight Arts Challenge also takes place in Miami and Philadelphia.

The challenge is open to everyone - artists and artist collectives of all types, businesses, established arts institutions, and any individual who has a great idea for the arts. There are only three rules: the idea must be about the arts; the project must take place in or benefit Detroit; the grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment (within a year).

A panel, made-up largely of Detroiters in the arts, will be reviewing the submissions, with a final decision being made by Knight Foundation’s board of trustees. Finalists for the challenge will be announced this summer, with winners being awarded in September.

The challenge is part of a $19.25 million investment in the Detroit arts that Knight Foundation announced last fall. It includes support for the three-year challenge, which provides funding, exposure and momentum to smaller arts efforts, and $10.25 million to some of the city’s premiere cultural institutions: the Arab American National Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit School of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theatre and the Sphinx Organization.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


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