St. Paul gets $8M in private grant money to bolster arts scene

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The Knight Foundation made a big move Wednesday night to shine the cultural spotlight on St. Paul.

MinnPost says the foundation announced an $8 million arts grant for the city in front of about 250 people at the Minnesota History Center.

Knight Foundation Vice President for the Arts Dennis Scholl flew in from Miami to make the announcement. Based in Florida, the philanthropic organization was established by brothers John and James Knight, whose Knight-Ridder newspaper group once owned the Pioneer Press.

The goal of the foundation, KSTP says, is to invest in the 26 communities where Knight-Ridder owned newspapers.

According to the Pioneer Press, Scholl said that $3.5 million of the grant – meant to "engage and enrich the city of St. Paul through the arts" – will go 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 other $4.5 million in grant money will go to fund the three-year Knight Arts Challenge, which is a community-wide contest open to all parties, including independent artists, artist collectives and businesses.

The Pioneer Press says people vying for Arts Challenge funding will be asked to submit a 150-word application that must follow three rules: The idea must be about art, it must take place in or benefit St. Paul, and funds must be found to match the grant amount if the idea is chosen.

The Knight Arts Challenge will accept applications April 7 through May 5.

Scholl said the arts challenge contest has already found success in Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia. The contests have led to more than 15,000 artistic ideas in the past three years, KSTP says.

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