As day dawns on new Knight grants, previous winners assess projects

The second-round winners of the Knight Arts Challenge will be announced Monday afternoon.

The grant is available to anybody — not just nonprofits, but anybody — who has an innovative idea concerning local arts. Most of the individuals and organizations who won in 2011 are in various stages of executing their projects.

At least two have completed theirs.

Tiny Dynamite Productions has held two seasons of a casual theater concept called “A Play, A Pie, A Pint,” a low-cost, convenient series of short plays with beer and pizza included in the price of the ticket.

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It did so well that audiences had to be turned away. However, the runs were so short — only two performances of each show — that ticket sales could not cover the cost of production.

“We wanted to keep it small, have big houses, to get the atmosphere we wanted to create — a very lively British pub atmosphere,” said director Emma Gibson. “We learned that we really do need to extend the run.”

Gibson says she would not have tried to launch “A Play, A Pie, A Pint” without the Knight grant. As it happened, it helped the upstart company establish relationships with audiences and artists. Now she is working on a third season, without Knight financial backing.

Last summer the African-American Museum in Philadelphia launched a series of weekly music and dance performances on the sidewalk plaza outside its building.

Called RAAMP It Up, performances of funk, soul, hip-hop, jazz, and world music drew a wide mix of people to the door of the museum every Wednesday for 18 weeks. The “Ladies First” show, featuring DJ Monie Love, reportedly attracted 1,000 people to the corner of Seventh and Arch streets.

“Providing free outdoor music every week was one of the best feelings I’ve had,” said Ivan Henderson, curator of public programming. “Although I knew all the time that we have to find a way for this to make financial sense when the grant money is gone.”

Now, that grant is money is gone, Henderson will continue to program a series of performances this summer of 2012 on a monthly basis.

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