Point of View

December 23, 2009, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Masterworks Series

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced the winners of the 2009 Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide contest to find the best ideas for the arts in South Florida. The Adrienne Arsht Center was fortunate to find itself among the 20 winners — a mix of individual artists, small nonprofits and some of South Florida’s largest and most venerable arts institutions, who collectively received $3.7 million in matching grants. The Adrienne Arsht Center received a $200,000 grant for Free Gospel Sundays, the community-supported Gospel series featuring a number of South Florida church choirs paired with national Gospel headliners.

Free Gospel Sundays


Seeing an opportunity to unite the area’s diverse community through the arts, Knight Foundation has committed more than $40 million through the Knight Arts Challenge to help strengthen this vital sector.

Knight Arts Challenge 2009 Winners


“That’s high-impact giving. Knight Foundation is making a difference for nonprofits and the people they are designed to help,” said M. John Richard, president and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center. “With Knight Foundation as our partner in the arts, the Adrienne Arsht Center can fulfill its commitment to profoundly impact the cultural life in our community.”

Free Gospel Sundays

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation had the foresight to recognize the impact Free Gospel Sundays would have on our community and has supported Free Gospel Sundays since 2008. With this second Knight Arts Challenge grant for the Gospel series, the Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to continue supporting Gospel music at the Adrienne Arsht Center into the 2010-2011 season.

Why Gospel? Free Gospel Sundays reflects the Adrienne Arsht Center’s continued commitment to present programs focused on highlighting South Florida’s rich cultural diversity.

“Nothing defines us more — or better — than our diversity. But the challenge of that diversity is to build a sense of community that is inclusive based on experiences and values we share. The arts in South Florida have the power to fuse culture, raise standards and enrich our collective life,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation.

Soul of the Community

Knight Foundation does much more than bring the South Florida community together through the arts. The Foundation has become an integral part of the soul of the community. The Foundation funded a Gallup survey designed to explore the connection between economic growth and residents’ emotional attachment to their community. The Soul of the Community survey suggests a significant correlation between the two and found that Miami’s social offerings, its physical beauty and its openness to new and different people are the most determinative factors as to why Miamians love Miami.

Arts and culture lovers in Miami would not be able to take pleasure in many of what this community has to offer if not for Knight Foundation. The Foundation builds a sense of community by supporting projects that allow the diverse communities to come together through the arts.

Masterworks Season of classical music and dance 

Knight Foundation also understands which types of projects are vital to our community. After Concert Association of Florida ceased its operations earlier this year, the Adrienne Arsht Center made a commitment to present the most prestigious names in classical music and dance in its halls for generations of South Floridians to enjoy.

With the support of Knight Foundation in the form of a challenge grant, the Adrienne Arsht Center was able to fulfill its promise of programming a full season of classical music and dance performers of the highest caliber and raise the crucial funds to present the John S. and James L. Knight MASTERWORKS SEASON.

A heartfelt performance by Israel’s Batsheva Ensemble at the Adrienne Arsht Center


“When a project is supported by Knight Foundation, its success is inevitable,” said Giselle Ferro, Director of Grant Development and Foundation Relations at the Adrienne Arsht Center. “Challenge grants are a powerful motivation to donate. It gives organizations like ours the ability to leverage other private, as well as public, support.”

Seminar Series coming in Spring 2010

With arts organizations facing increasingly scarce resources, the Adrienne Arsht Center is launching a seminar series in the spring to help them achieve their creative potential in tough budget times. This seminar series will be co-sponsored by Knight Foundation.

The seminar series will offer large and small non-profits tools for sustainability and expertise on traditional and Web 2.0 marketing, fundraising and board development, among other areas. All topics have been selected because they are critical to a nonprofit organization’s sustainability. The seminar series also will give these groups access to experts and insight typically out of reach.

The Knight Arts Challenge will accept applications next year for the third round of its community grants contest. Because it is a matching grant program, winners must find funding to complement Knight Foundation’s investment. To find out more, or sign up for e-mail updates, visit www.knightarts.org.

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 community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more information, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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