Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia Finalists Announced

Every year, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation asks Philly artists and arts organizations the question: “What’s your best idea for the arts?” Over the last two years, the foundation has awarded $5.5 million in matching grants to those projects with the best answers, such as Franklin’s Paine Skatepark Fund, the Black Pear Chamber Orchestra, and John Jarboe’s Bearded Ladies Cabaret.

This year, 1,200 local artists and organizations responded to the challenge, and today, the foundation announced the finalists, with some pretty exciting ideas like a Dr. Dog/Pig Iron Theatre Company collaboration. (Where can I buy tickets for that?) Winners will be announced in the spring.

Here, the 69 finalists:

836 Writers Residence
To provide new resources for writers by establishing a reading and performance venue that also offers temporary residences for selected authors

Ars Nova Workshop
To honor Philadelphia’s rich jazz legacy by producing a month-long festival in venues across the city during Jazz History Month

Art Sphere, Inc.
To improve arts education by creating a database of art lesson plans and projects to be used by organizations with few resources

Artists U
To increase professional development opportunities for local performance artists by expanding a pilot project that allows artists to seek targeted advice and counsel

Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia
To strengthen the next generation by establishing an institute where emerging arts leaders can gain a deeper understanding of management and leadership

Asian Arts Initiative
To transform Pearl Street – a rundown alleyway in an emerging cultural district – by turning it into a park and outdoor gallery that connects four city blocks

BAJ Design
To explore how art shapes a city and vice versa by producing a biannual book series and an accompanying website to document Philadelphia’s grassroots arts movement

To further the careers of young dancers by teaching them the art of choreography through a mentorship program

Beth Heinly
To promote self publishing and the art of zines by renovating an elevator shaft at Little Berlin into a two-floor library, offering low cost printing and a zine archive

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
To create more public art and enliven city streets by hosting a competition for artists to design new bike racks

Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
To deepen amateur musicians’ engagement with classical music by offering adults opportunities to perform alongside the orchestra’s professionals

BlackStar Film Festival
To support African Diaspora cinema through a film festival that will also feature a short screenplay contest

Brandywine Workshop
To give more exposure to the diverse and local printmaking community by creating a marketplace for artists to sell their work through the first Made in Philly Print Fair

Brat Productions
To strengthen the theater community by providing additional rehearsal space to be shared among seven small professional theater companies

Breadboard at the Science Center
To bring the city’s art and tech communities together through a new alliance and facility that will provide hands-on programming plus a civic prototyping lab addressing community issues

Come Kleen Productions
To promote the city’s best in music, spoken word, comedy and more by bringing back the monthly Blue Funk! event

Commonwealth Youthchoirs/Pennsylvania Girlchoir
To empower girls through music by launching a large-scale choral event for seventh- to 12th-grade girls, featuring female conductors and composers

CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia
To offer holistic support for artistic projects by launching a nonprofit arts trust that will provide project management, fiscal sponsorship, legal consulting and more.

Dance/USA Philadelphia
To raise the visibility of live dance by creating a pop-up studio in a highly visible public space where local companies will perform for passersby

Data Garden
To introduce local talent to new markets and audiences by launching an international tour of installations and musical performances by Philadelphia artists

David Guinn
To engage neighborhoods in art by bringing temporary outdoor wall installations created by artists to Center City

Dolce Suono Ensemble
To bring more music to communities by working with organizations to develop a new outreach initiative bridging classical and Latin music

Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions
To engage and inspire Philadelphians through a series of outdoor portraits on 11th Street that feature residents’ stories

Drexel ExCITe Center
To facilitate more interaction across musical genres and engage new audiences with a series of live concerts enhanced with visual technologies

Erik Ransom
To offer more opportunities for emerging literary artists by working with writers to produce readings and productions of new musicals

Ernest Stuart
To increase audiences for jazz by expanding the Center City Jazz Festival to include additional events and venues

First Person Arts
To bring more diverse theater audiences together through storytelling by producing a series of performances in partnership with the African American Museum of Philadelphia

Geoffrey Thompson
To breathe creative life into some of the city’s most mundane structures by working with local artists to design unique coverings for a dozen steam vent diversion pipes

Germantown Presbyterian Community Church
To help revitalize a unique neighborhood and celebrate its musical history by creating a chamber music concert series to host up-and-coming classical musicians

idiosynCrazy productions
To build community around contemporary dance in Philadelphia through free professional dance training offered by a diverse group of local, national and international teachers

To engage audiences in the arts by creating a mobile rewards program where residents can earn fun prizes for attending events

Inta, Inc.
To bring bold, highly theatrical performances to a unique venue by having two well-known dancer/choreographers, Eiko & Koma, produce an event at the Reading Viaduct and participate in a year-long residency program

Jackson School Music Program
To strengthen musical training and performances for Jackson School students and the surrounding neighborhood by renovating the school’s music space

Jacob Winterstein
To bring poetry to a wider audience and create a leadership pipeline for young writers by expanding The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam to include theatrical works and storytelling

Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble
To enable audience members to become performers by inviting them to participate in master classes, rehearse and perform a new work blending traditional African dance with hip-hop, funk and soul

Lee Ann Etzold
To foster a greater sense of community between two geographically close, but culturally diverse, neighborhoods by producing a theatrical performance written and performed by its residents

Mann Center for the Performing Arts
To bring orchestral music to new audiences by pairing local professional orchestras with legendary performers in a new concert series

Mascher Space Cooperative
To offer support for local dance artists by providing space and funding to help them deepen technical skills and relationships

Network for New Music
To celebrate the unveiling of Dilworth plaza and its new interactive steam sculptures by offering a free outdoor choral and dance performance

Opera Company of Philadelphia
To offer a more immersive opera experience by launching a series of 50-minute operas, the first of which, about a Serbian wedding, will be followed by an authentic Balkan wedding feast

Pasión y Arte
To celebrate the contributions of Flamenco dance by producing a two-week festival including an educational symposium and performance by groundbreaking Flamenco artist Israel Galvan

Philadelphia Film Society
To provide students and local filmmakers the opportunity to share their cinematic work by holding monthly community screenings at the Roxy Theater

Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe
To ignite imaginations around the future of environmental conservation by creating a large and visually stunning art installation along the Delaware River complete with solar panels, gardens and more

Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates
To re-interpret a selected group of beloved city murals by collaborating with four performing arts organizations to create original performances around them

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Performing Arts Office
To offer after-school art programming for children by placing teachers in each of the eight city districts to give instruction in singing, acting and dancing

Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
To cultivate new audiences for contemporary photography by organizing innovative exhibitions featuring digitally printed photographic murals, nontraditional approaches to portraiture and auxiliary programming

Philadelphia Sculptors
To integrate public art with historic preservation by placing temporary, nautical-related sculptures in outdoor locations along the Independence Seaport Museum’s grounds, the wharf and the river

Philadelphia Theatre Company
To create a conversation around important issues of youth in the criminal justice system by supporting the two-year residency of actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith

Philadelphia Woodworks
To help Philadelphians reconnect with the city’s rich woodworking tradition by expanding the organization’s facility to include a dedicated, fully-equipped workshop

Philadelphia Young Playwrights
To help students gain a deeper understanding of how to leverage theater for social change by expanding a festival, in collaboration with InterAct Theatre Company, featuring professional productions of high school students’ monologues

Pig Iron Theatre Company, with Dr. Dog
To merge two indie arts genres by translating the music of rock band Dr. Dog into a multi-media opera, integrating environmental sound design

Play On, Philly!
To cultivate students’ music skills by coordinating a multifaceted production and technology initiative that will teach composition, songwriting and more

To attract theatrical talent to Philadelphia by creating a yearlong weekend residency program in which emerging, non-local playwrights engage with local talent and the city’s cultural offerings

Reading Terminal Market Corp.
To curate a formalized performing arts series at Reading Terminal Market by organizing popups and scheduled performances of artists from diverse communities

Shakespeare in Clark Park
To engage audiences in new ways with an interactive event around Shakespeare’s Henry IV, offering attendees multiple ways to participate

South Street Headhouse District
To bring cultural vibrancy to the South Street neighborhood by organizing a series of popup and street events featuring music, theater and visual arts

Sruti, The India Music and Dance Society
To celebrate Indian music and introduce it to a young and urban audience by offering a concert series with rotating ensembles of professional musicians

Stacey Wilson
To explore the connection between music and art by offering an aural experience for patrons that pairs individual works of visual art with a unique music mix

Swim Pony Performing Arts
To foster collaboration across genres by curating a series of cross-disciplinary events combining the strengths of two or more art mediums

Taller Puertorriqueño
To engage more audiences in the city’s Latino arts scene by organizing gallery exhibits, including mixed-media installations and music performances

Team Sunshine Performance Corp.
To bridge the audience and performer relationship by producing a series of interactive events in a humorous “preparation of our citizenry,” including physical training and zombie combat workshops, “undead” movie screenings and more

The Rotunda
To challenge musicians to turn a rarely used rotunda into a musical instrument by bringing in improv vocalists to create a public performance that artfully uses the historic sanctuary’s acoustics

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
To address the city’s environmental issues by hosting four unique artists whose projects will include public engagement and educational outreach

The Village of Art and Humanities
To offer a home to emerging and mid-career artists seeking an urban environment by turning row homes into a permanent artist residency program

Theresa Rose
To create connections between neighborhood restaurateurs and artists by commissioning dinners featuring art projects from across neighborhoods

Tyler School of Art, Temple University
To celebrate one of the community’s most beloved African-American artists, Charles Searles, by inviting art students from three universities to collaborate on an exhibition, accompanied by art-driven events inspired by the artist’s legacy

To advocate for a linear green space along a stretch of the city’s former railroad branch by making a temporary site installation and sponsoring an international ideas competition

Vox and Grizzly
To promote visual arts collaboration and capture the energy of the city’s arts district by enabling many collectives to produce a multiv-enue, one-month exhibit

To share the talents of established and emerging musicians with the community by recording individual and ensemble performances in a state-of-the-art studio