42 winners announced in St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge


The Miami-based Knight Foundation announced Monday the results of its St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge, where $1.3 million in grants will be distributed to 42 winners, Minnesota Public Radio News reports.

The winning proposals came from a total of 866 entrants, who were asked to pitch their ideas in 150 words or less in response to the question, “What’s your best idea for the arts in St. Paul?”

Of those entries, 69 finalists were asked to give more detailed proposals. See a complete list of the winners here.

The grants range from $4,000 for theater group to rent a tent, to $125,000 to expand the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, MPR News says. All grant recipients must come up with matching funds.

“The great thing is that a new generation of organizations and individuals is getting recognition and support from a national foundation,” St. Paul Director of Arts and Culture Joe Spencer told the Star Tribune.

According to the Knight Foundation, other winning ideas include a participatory theater workshop that helps students examine race and racism, light projections on the steam plume of the landmark St. Paul power plant, a Latino radio show and the expansion of a Hmong fashion show.

“The winners show a cultural community willing to engage new audiences, open to new ideas and experimenting, yet reflective of this city and its people in authentic ways,” Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation, says in a press release.

The foundation was established in 1950 by newspaper executives John S. and James L. Knight, who once owned the Pioneer Press. The goal of the foundation, KSTP says, is to invest in the 26 communities where Knight-Ridder owned newspapers.

In January, the foundation announced an $8 million grant for the city to bolster the St. Paul arts scene.

Of that, $3.5 million went to five “anchor arts institutions,” including the Penumbra Theatre, the Springboard for the Arts, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and TU Dance. The fifth institution is the Arts Partnership, which is made up of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the Minnesota Opera, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Schubert Club.

The remaining $4.5 million will be distributed over three years to the St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge.

Scholl told MPR News they would consider extending the program beyond the three-year commitment "if the community responds and we feel like we’re getting the best art ideas and we’re improving how the community thinks about culture."

"If we think the arts are helping people to be more attached to St. Paul, well then we’ve been known to keep going," Scholl told the publication.

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