The Knight Arts Challenge has named 36 individuals and organizations that will split $2.7 million in grants. Most of it will go to Philadelphia’s most prominent arts organizations.
Whereas most granting foundations dole out money to long-established cultural institutions, the Knight Challenge was designed to give money to anyone with a good idea, potentially putting cash into the hands of individuals. But the recipients are, by and large, the usual suspects–including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mural Arts Program, and the Barnes Foundation.
One of the smaller recipients is Tiny Dynamite, a Philadelphia theater troupe that will use a $25,000 grant to create a theater series called “A Play, A Pie, A Pint,” based on a Scottish theater movement of staging one-act plays in bars where patrons get a pizza, a beer, and a show.
“It was established as lunchtime theater,” said co-founder Emma Gibson. “The Brits are known for their lunchtime drinking, and we didn’t know that that would work so much over here. So we’re planning to do just two nights a week.”
Another recipient is Darla Jackson, a sculptor who, with her husband, will use a $20,000 grant to open a sculpture gym. That will be a place where dues-paying members will have access to heavy equipment such as band saws, drill presses, and welders.
The terms of the Knight Challenge require recipients to match the funds.
“We are definitely scared because we never had to raise money on this level before,” said Jackson. “Starting a new business, that’s scary. But it’s kind of a positive fear, if that makes sense.”
The three-year Knight Challenge will ultimately grant $9 million to Philadelphia recipients.