Knight Arts Challenge awards $1.3 million to bring more art to St. Paul


A Winter Carnival concert played on instruments made of ice. Flash mobs of flamenco dancers. An assortment of tiny bronze bees placed in city gardens.

Those are some of the "best ideas for the arts in St. Paul" that have been awarded a total of $1.29 million in grants from the Knight Foundation to turn those ideas into reality.

Forty artists are the winners of the Knight Foundation's Arts Challenge, which funds the "best ideas for engaging and enriching St. Paul through the arts," the organization said in a news release.

The 2015 winners, chosen from more than 400 who submitted applications, were announced at a Tuesday evening event.

They run the gamut from theater to film to music, literature and spoken word to popup dance and comedy performances.

The list of winners also reflects the diversity of the city, with some of the projects examining issues facing African American, Hmong and Latino residents, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“This year’s winners reflect community-driven ideas that will bring the arts more deeply into neighborhoods across St. Paul,” Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation, said in the news release.

This is the second of three years for the Arts Challenge, which the Miami-based foundation offers in cities where the Knight family once owned newspapers, MPR News notes.

A few others of interest:

  • Coffee House Press will produce and distribute coffee cup sleeves featuring the words of St. Paul writers of color, to foster community conversations on race and the arts (photo above)
  • Northern Spark, an all-night arts festival that occurs each June, will use the Green Line light rail as the backbone of its 2017 festival.
  • Artist Karl Unnasch will wrap a water tower with a backlit, contemporary stained-glass mural to enliven the surrounding neighborhood (photo at top)
  • Sarah Peters will continue her floating library project in 2016 by locating it on Lake Phalen. (More about her floating libraries here)
  • A percussion performance influenced by baseball signals and plays from the St. Paul Saints (see a sample in the video at bottom)

The list of all 40 of the winners is here.

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