ST. PAUL (Sept. 29, 204) — The Knight Foundation on Monday announced 42 winners out of 868 submissions for the first St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge.
Asian American artists and orgs won, including the Asian Economic Development Association, Center for Hmong Arts and Talents, Mu Performing Arts, Shades of Yellow, Ragamala Dance Company, Sumunar Indonesian Music and Dance, and Ananya Dance Theatre.
The Knight Foundation funds a range of community-driven ideas representing the city’s diversity and cultural vibrancy received $1.365 million today as winners of the first St. Paul Knight Arts Challenge.
A program of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the challenge funds the best ideas for engaging and enriching St. Paul through the arts.
Chosen from 868 submissions, the 42 winners include individual artists, small ensembles, community-based businesses and established arts organizations from a diverse cross section of St. Paul. The ideas range from a participatory theater workshop that helps students examine race and racism to light projections on the steam plume of the landmark St. Paul power plant.
All of the winners answered a question posed by Knight Foundation earlier this year: What’s your best idea for the arts in St. Paul?
“The winners show a cultural community willing to engage new audiences, open to new ideas and experimenting, yet reflective of this city and its people in authentic ways,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation.
The APIA recipiants and projects:
• Indian Celebration Moves from Home to Public Sphere
Recipient: Ragamala Dance Company, received $18,000 to bring a traditional Indian celebration of the arts into the public sphere with “Navaratri: Bringing the Arts from Home to Community”.
• The Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) received a $50,000 award for the “Water Festival Adapts Southeast Asian Tradition” project. It will go to explore the significance of water through art at the St. Paul Water Festival, a Minnesota adaptation of celebrations that take place in Southeast Asia.
• The Center for Hmong Arts and Talent received a $35,000 award for “Fashion Show Highlights the Best of Hmong Design.” It will go to highlight the best of Hmong design through the Fresh Traditions Fashion Show, where contestants incorporate the five traditional Hmong fabrics into contemporary form.
• Mu Performing Arts received a $70,000 award for it’s “Immigrant Stories Take Stage in New Work” project. It will go to empower immigrants in the Twin Cities to tell their stories by creating an original play about the 21st century immigrant experience in collaboration with artist Masanari Kawahara.
• Shades of Yellow (SOY) received a $19,000 award for “Space Helps Cultivate a Community of Queer Hmong Artists.” It will go to build the Hmong and Asian Pacific Islander LGBTQ artist community by opening a studio where artists can create, perform and receive support to creatively share their stories.
• Indonesian-Minnesota Mash-up: A new puppet play featuring Sumunar Indonesian Music and Dance: $15,000. To introduce local audiences to Indonesian shadow puppet plays, known as wayang kulit, based on traditional stories and current events in Minnesota.
• Women’s Roles in Global Food System Focus of Interdisciplinary Work: Ananya Dance Theatre. $50,000. To tell the story of women’s roles in the global food system through an interdisciplinary piece.
With challenge funding, the 2014 winners will:
• Connect more people with the arts in new ways – by surprising lunchtime crowds with musical performances, designing a food opera that pairs meals with musical compositions, creating a play in the state Capitol based on the lives of the people who work there, and transforming the city’s landmark buildings into kinetic canvases with light.
• Shine a spotlight on St. Paul’s diverse communities – by showcasing Latinos through a fictional radio novella, elevating African and Brazilian diaspora contemporary dance, preserving Somali poetry through a mobile art program and highlighting the best of Hmong design in a fashion show.
• Develop the next generation of creative thinkers – by providing students with the rare opportunity to attend GRAMMY Camp, pairing teens with professional artists to make multimedia stories in a traveling RV classroom, and instilling a love of percussion instruments through a new ensemble that will perform at the St. Paul Saints’ new ballpark.
In its first of three years, the Knight Arts Challenge has only three rules for applying: 1) The idea must be about the arts; 2) The project must take place in or benefit St. Paul; 3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.
The challenge is part of an $8 million investment in St. Paul that Knight Foundation announced in January. The two-pronged effort includes $4.5 million over three years for the challenge plus $3.5 million to five respected institutions that have helped the city earn its title as a thriving cultural capital: The Arts Partnership, Penumbra Theatre, Springboard for the Arts, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and TU Dance.
“We believe Knight Foundation’s investment in St. Paul will strengthen the city’s burgeoning arts scene, and with it, the fabric of our community,” said Polly Talen, St. Paul program director for Knight Foundation. “We look forward to watching the work of this year’s Arts Challenge winners unfold.”
St. Paul is the fourth city where Knight Foundation has launched the challenge, following successful efforts in Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia.
The other recipients:
• Power Plant Will Project Positive Energy: Aaron Dysart, Andrea Steudel, Emily Stover and Asia Ward. $35,000. To celebrate the landmark power plant in downtown St. Paul as a largely sustainable fuel source by projecting a light show on the steam plume that billows from the roof.
• Winnebago Workshops Inspire Teen Artists: Alec Soth / Little Brown Mushroom. $35,000. To create “The Winnebago Workshop,” a mobile classroom where teens are paired with artists to create multimedia stories.
• Ensembles Bring Music to Unlikely St. Paul Locations: American Composers Forum. $7,000. To bring the arts into people’s everyday lives by infusing music experiences into unlikely places in downtown St. Paul during the noontime hour.
• Live Theater and Radio Novela Series Showcases Latino East Siders: Barry Madore: $50,0000. To showcase Latino East Siders through a fictional radio novela/variety show, broadcast on the new Dayton’s Bluff FM station.
• Poetry Slam Features National Artists and Cash Prizes: Button Poetry: $40,000. To provide the community with access to top spoken-word artists through monthly performances and workshops
• Choreography Residency Elevates African Diaspora Contemporary Dance: Contempo Physical Dance: $30,000. To challenge assumptions about African and contemporary dance through an annual choreography residency for those working in Brazilian or African Diaspora contemporary dance.
• Immersive Art Experiences Transform St. Paul’s Underutilized Spaces: curious incident: $15,000. To highlight the history of St. Paul’s unused spaces by energizing them with immersive arts events.
• Large-Scale Storytelling Artworks Honor East Siders: East Side Freedom Library: $25,000. To commission large-scale artworks that promote “the work of freedom” and honor the people who have shaped the city’s East Side
• Hamilton Ink Spot Expands Access to Printmaking: Hamilton Ink Spot: $50,000. To expand this storefront cooperative that provides classes and mentorship programs for the hand printing of original artwork.
• North Enders Tell Their Stories Through Digital Media: In Progress: $50,000. To build understanding of the long invisible yet vibrant North End community through digital storytelling by local youth and adults.
• New Fellowship Competition Boosts Screenwriters: Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota: $60,000. To help develop local screenwriters through a fellowship competition where all finalists receive mentoring and classes to improve their work.
• Dynamic Lighting Displays Transform Rice Park Landmarks: Jeff Bartlett: $45,000. To transform landmark buildings in St. Paul by having master lighting designer Jeff Bartlett turn architectural icons into kinetic canvases for light, color and drama.
• Mosaics, Murals and Graffiti Art Amplify Immigrant Stories: Jonathan Oppenheimer: $25,000. To amplify artists’ and immigrant business owners’ voices along Snelling Avenue through mosaics, graffiti art and paint murals that showcase the neighborhood’s stories
• Mobile Art Program Focuses on Preservation of Somali Poetry and Arts: Ka Joog: $20,000. To preserve the art of Somali poetry through a mobile art program offering performances and educational programming.
• New Youth Percussion Group Featured at St. Paul Saints Stadium: M2 Foundation: $30,000. To foster a love for music in St. Paul youth by teaching them to perform African and Brazilian rhythms on percussion instruments, preparing for performances at the St. Paul Saints’ new ballpark.
• St. Paul Lands Grammy Camp for Teens: McNally Smith College of Music Foundation: $20,000. To provide high school students interested in music careers with the rare opportunity to attend a prestigious GRAMMY Camp, staffed by GRAMMY professionals.
• Bronze Skeleton Sculpture Doubles as Iconic Bike Rack: Michael Bahl: $40,000. To create a landmark for St. Paul bicycle culture through a sculpture that doubles as a bike rack.
• Series brings Arab-American Art into the Community: Mizna: $40,000. To introduce new audiences to Arab-American artistic expression by bringing local and national Arab writers and filmmakers to the city’s parks, art spaces and cafes.
• Poetic Tapestry to Reflect a Changing City: MN Spoken Word Association: $14,000. To celebrate the city through spoken word by creating a tapestry of poems written by residents in 10 rapidly growing neighborhoods.
• Music-Theater Expands New Works Series: Nautilus Music -Theater: $40,000. To become a major resource in the renaissance of Lowertown St. Paul by expanding programming and audience engagement efforts in a new street-level space.
• Series Celebrates Hip-Hop Culture in Art and Music: Rogue Citizen /Free Range Music Cooperative: $15,000. To celebrate St. Paul hip-hop through an arts and music series that draws attention to an often-overlooked culture in the city.
• Public Gallery for Student Works Coming to Creative Arts School: Saint Paul Public Schools and Partners: $5,000. To encourage creative expression by creating a public gallery to present high-quality student-produced art events.
• Theater Project Helps Students Explore Race and Racism: Science Museum of Minnesota: $55,000. To explore race and racism through community workshops that are paired with a museum exhibition, led by Penumbra Theatre Company, and grounded in theater techniques.
• Radio Show Makes Art Accessible to Latinos: Silvia Pontaza: $40,000. To make art more accessible to the Latino community by creating a community radio show and podcast that provides context on local cultural exhibits and events.
• Signs from Lowertown’s history Preserved: Stahl Construction Company: $45,000. To preserve the legacy of St. Paul’s architecture by restoring historic company signs that distinguish Lowertown.
• Intimate Concerts Planned for Lowertown: Sweet 317: $6,000. To offer a free monthly music series at this intimate space in Lowertown focused on art-forward events.
• Classical Groups Widen Reach with Art Crawl Performances: The Baroque Room: $12,000. To showcase the Saint Paul classical music scene during the Art Crawl through performances in art gallery spaces.
• Exhibition Space Brings Prominent Artists to St. Paul: The Bindery Projects: $50,000. To ensure the city is part of the national discourse on contemporary art by showcasing prominent artists at this artist-run exhibition space.
• Theater in a Tent: Mini-Performances Provide Curious Experiences: The Winding Sheet Outfit: $4,000. To infuse a sense of magic and wonder into theater through a storytelling performance that takes place beneath a black tent that travels around the city.
• Jazz Festival Expands: Twin Cities Jazz Festival: $125,000. To increase audiences for jazz by expanding the outdoor stages in Lowertown for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.
• Parade Puppets Will Manifest Unity Along University Avenue: Unify University!: $7,000. To celebrate cultural unity by commissioning artists to build giant street puppets for the Unify University Community Parade.
• Series Brings Jazz to Selby Avenue: Walker West Music Academy: $25,000. To bring jazz music back to Selby Avenue through a monthly free concert series at Walker West’s new music center.
• Stories of State Capitol To Take the Stage: Wonderlust Productions: $35,000. To provide a behind-the-scenes peak of the state Capitol through a site-specific play generated by the people who bring the place to life each day.
• “Smallest Museum in St. Paul” to be created at Raymond/University on the Green Line: WorkHorse Coffee Bar: $5,000. To engage Green Line LRT commuters by creating “the smallest museum in St. Paul” in a vintage fire-hose cabinet along University Avenue.
• “Food Opera” to Pair Dishes with New Musical Compositions: Zeitgeist: $10,000. To meld the musical and culinary arts by pairing foods with new musical compositions.