Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Knight Arts Challenge (In the Spotlight) (Meet the Artist)

This month’s spotlight focuses on The Knight Arts Challenge and Dennis Scholl who oversees the foundation’s national Arts Program, including the Knights Arts Challenge and Random Acts of Culture series.

The challenge, a program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is a communitywide contest helping to transform South Florida through the arts.

In just four years, Knight Foundation has invested close to $19 million in Arts Challenge projects – an amount that local arts supporters are doubling with matching funds. The 2011 challenge has invested $2.9 million in projects that will bring the arts into people’s everyday lives, through opera performances in unexpected places, pop-up sculptures on Miami Beach, concerts downtown and in Miami-Dade parks and artist-lead bus tours of Miami’s lesser known points of interest.
Many of the projects funded tell Miami’s unique story, by portraying coral as a living art form in public exhibits, expanding an artist-in-residence program in the Everglades and creating a mentorship program for African-American playwrights. These endeavors develop a recognizable “Miami” style of dance by launching a new dance company and offering opportunities for local and international choreographers.

Probably the most poignant of the Challenge’s fulfilled objectives is to provide tomorrow’s artists and arts enthusiasts with enriching experiences – such as a chance to meet one of Haiti’s most prominent artists, be mentored by an author of teen novels or participate in art institute classes. Even the ability to introduce more Hispanic masters to South Florida, through a theater festival, exhibits and performances at the Cuban Museum.

Big ideas that have already become a reality include the Borscht Film Festival, helping to forge a new cinematic identity for Miami, The LegalArt Residency, Miami’s only live/work residency for artists, Sleepless Night Miami Beach, where tens of thousands enjoyed 12 hours of nonstop culture, just to name a few.

The best part…they are getting ready to do it AGAIN! From February 21 – March 19, 2012 South Floridians can apply for a share of millions in funding through the fourth annual Knight Arts Challenge. The community-wide contest is committed to finding and funding the best ideas for the arts in South Florida. There are only three rules for applying: The idea is about the arts; the project takes place in or benefits South Florida; and applicants must find other funding to match the Knight Foundation grant. Individuals, nonprofits and for profit organizations are eligible to apply.

Leading the initiative for the
Arts Challenge
The person leading the helm of the Arts Challenge is Dennis Scholl. He joined the Knight Arts Foundation in 2009.  “This contest is about innovative ideas, artistic excellence and inspiring our community. The best projects will help weave culture into the everyday fabric of this region.  We want to hear from everyone with a great idea,” said Dennis Scholl.
As a contemporary art collector for over 30 years, he has had a long involvement in philanthropy in the visual arts. Over the last dozen years, he was the founding chair of the Guggenheim Photography Committee, the Tate American Acquisitions Committee and the Miami Art Museum Collectors Council. Each group raised funds and acquired contemporary art for their respective museums.
He has also been a board member of the Miami Art Museum, Aspen Art Museum, North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art and the chair of Locust Projects, an alternative art space.
For his philanthropic service in the Miami art community, he was honored with a Shining Star by the Arts & Business Council, the Big Heart in the Arts award by the American Heart Association and the Mover & Shaker award by Miami Today.
A three-time regional Emmy nominee for his film making and on-camera work, he wrote and co-produced a short film “Sunday’s Best” that recently won the Suncoast Emmy Award, and was accepted by numerous film festivals including the Aspen Shortfest and Cinequest.
He was an early leader in the redeveloment of the South Beach historic Art Deco District and the Wynwood Arts District.
Previously he was a practicing attorney and a C.P.A. Scholl received his bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a law degree from the University of Miami. He and his wife Debra live in Miami Beach, Florida.

Have an idea?
Visit www.KnightArts.org through March 19th. The two-question application is designed to be simple to attract applicants who aren’t traditional grant seekers.

As part of Aroundtown’s “Meet the Artist” series, we will feature a selection of Knight Arts Challenge
recipients from 2008 – 2011 as their projects come to fruition.
To introduce the series….a selection of 2011 winners: Festival Celebrates Overtown’s Rich Artistic Heritage

Project: Overtown Rhythm and Arts Festival
The Overtown Rhythm and Arts Festival will celebrate the musical and artistic heritage of Overtown with an annual street festival that draws top acts. Organizers, originally part of a Leadership Miami team, will set up workshops to organize fundraising, marketing and community partnerships. The resulting annual festival of music, art, food and local vendors will draw increasing numbers of diverse audiences, higher-profile acts and sponsors.

Project: Aqua/Cultural Transformation: The New Miami Science Museum
Coral Morphologic has teamed with the Miami Science Museum to build excitement for its arrival downtown at Museum Park by collaborating on a multimedia art-science project at Miami International Airport. This public project will promote the world-class aquarium exhibits that will be central to the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, to be completed at the end of 2014. High-definition screens will be installed in airport terminals and waiting areas to portray fluorescent corals as living art forms and icons of the city. These installations will engage, relax and entrance travelers of all ages, while reinforcing Miami’s position as a gateway to the coral reefs of the Caribbean. Additionally, coral aquascapes also will be shown on the New World Symphony’s 1,700 square foot outdoor projection wall during a night of underwater film.

Project: Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places
Florida Grand Opera will bring opera to new audiences by
presenting new or updated operas in a unique, intimate space once a year. This project aims to attract younger audiences to bold and modern productions in nontraditional venues. The opera company will find new production spaces and create a custom marketing strategy, following up with new patrons and establishing a model that can be replicated by other opera and performing arts groups.

Project: MOCA Art Institute at the Museum of
Contemporary Art
Recipient: Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami
The Museum of Contemporary Art will inspire teens to become lifelong learners and lovers of art by creating an institute to provide free year-round programs in art history, museum studies, studio art, design, creative writing and more. The MOCA Art Institute will offer enriching experiences for thousands of students through an array of comprehensive educational programs in art and communications that use engaging curriculum and a dynamic museum environment to build skills, develop aesthetic analysis and promote creativity through exposure, experience and interdisciplinary discussion. Instruction includes an after-school program for teens, summer journalism and photojournalism courses for inner-city youth and the teen-produced MOCAZINE, an arts and literary journal.

For a full description of all the recipients please visit

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