Mayor Nutter, Arts Community Celebrate Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia Launch

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Chief Cultural Officer Gary Steuer and 200 arts professionals, advocates and artists celebrated the launch of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia Tuesday night at a special reception at TRUST in Old City.

The challenge, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to fund the best ideas for the Philadelphia arts, will offer $9 million in funding over three years.  Applications – open to anyone in the region – will be accepted through Oct. 31 at

“The challenge opens a window of opportunity for everyone in the community,” said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts. “In each of the next three years, we will invite every artist, every arts institution, every business and every individual in Philadelphia to offer the best art ideas for this community.”

Mayor Nutter said, “The Knight Arts Challenge is a great example of how public and private sector leaders can encourage Philadelphians to unleash their innovative and creative spirit. The resulting projects over the next three years will remake the way Philadelphians interact with and perceive the arts on a daily basis.”

Steuer said the challenge is an exciting opportunity for the city.  “The challenge will help spur creative approaches to making art and connecting art to the greater community,” Steuer said. “Knight Foundation is in effect willing to provide risk capital to arts groups, helping them to move in innovative, new directions that they might otherwise be cautious about.”
Building on the momentum of the arts in Philadelphia, the Knight Arts Challenge seeks out innovative projects to inspire and enrich Philadelphia’s communities.

To encourage a wide range of applicants and ideas, the challenge has just three rules: The idea must be about art, must take place in or benefit Philadelphia, and winners must find funds (within a year) to match Knight Foundation’s grant.

Scholl will work with an advisory group of Philadelphia cultural and community leaders who will review the initial applications and determine finalists, who will be announced in early 2011. The selected finalists will then submit more detailed proposals, and winners will be announced in spring of 2011.

The Knight Arts Challenge began in 2008 in Miami, where the initiative is now in its third year. Philadelphia is only the second city in which Knight is offering this program.

Grant recipients in Miami have included an independent record store, a print shop, theater and dance groups, performance and gallery spaces, festival and event organizers, museums and municipalities.

For more on Knight Foundation’s arts initiative and to view previous Miami Challenge winners, visit

Philadelphians can also learn more and share ideas with the community on the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia Facebook page here.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit

Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia Launch from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

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