The winners of this year’s Akron Knight Arts Challenge are being announced tonight at the Civic Theatre downtown. It’s the second round of grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help enrich Akron with art.
The arts challenge is part of $11 million the Knight Foundation has invested in Akron’s arts community over the last two-years. Kyle Kutuchief, program director for the Knight Foundation in Akron, says this year’s 19 winners span a range of genres, but one subject stood out.
“One of the themes that emerged for 2016 were a number of ideas focused on dance and the excellent dance that’s in the area. But what makes the 19 winners exciting is it is a mix of very different ideas from different parts of town, and so it will be exciting.
"So we have the first round of winners. They’re about six months into their grants, and now we’ll add another 19 into the mix.”
Other winners include a theatrical performance based on Akron’s history with the rubber industry, and a performance of songs and stories about the Ohio and Erie Canal. But Kutuchief says others are less conventional.
“One that was very interesting was ... 'If This Wallpaper Could Talk,' which was done by a local interior designer Karen Starr and local a photographer Shane Wynn: looking at the quirkiness of, the stories behind people’s wallpaper in Akron. There were some grants that went to existing institutions like the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival that the city of Akron runs. The Downtown Akron Partnership brought forth a new idea for an expanded arts festival downtown.”
Kutuchief says the purpose of the Arts Challenge is to put art everywhere in the community and make it accessible. He says many times creative people are not expert grant writers, and this gives them a chance to get funding with the foundation’s help. The winners must raise matching funds for their projects to receive the grants.