Detroit arts organisations receive $23m in grants for digital initiatives from the Knight Foundation

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Over the last decade, Detroit’s art scene has transformed from an esteemed regional jewel into a major international player, attracting artists and collectors from all over the world to its innovative network of galleries, project spaces, museums and studio complexes.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a Miami-based philanthropic organisation that invests in community expression as a means of supporting democracy, is about to raise the Motor City’s artistic profile even further with a $23m investment in the city’s arts ecosystem. The investment consists of multi-year grants to ten Detroit organisations and three capacity-building fellowship programmes, which will launch later this year and in 2024. This latest investment brings the Knight Foundation’s total support for the Detroit arts scene to more than $50m since 2005, and is intended to catalyse technological momentum and connection in cultural experiences.

Grantees include major cultural entities like the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which will receive $3m, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Opera, which will each receive $2m, alongside up-and-coming non-profits like Bulk Space, a multi-hyphenate collective and residency programme dedicated to uplifting marginalised artistic voices. Bulk Space will receive $750,000 toward the creation of a mobile media laboratory in Detroit’s North End.

Rendering of Midtown Detroit, Inc.’s Cultural Center Performance Space, one of the projects that received a Knight Foundation grant Courtesy of Midtown Detroit, Inc.

Other grantees will also put their funding toward tech-focused projects. Sphinx, a social justice organisation focused on increasing the representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music, will use its $1.5m grant to expand its digital reach. And​​ the Motown Museum’s $4.5m grant will fund the creation of a “Digital Jukebox”, which will help expand the institution’s online archives.

“Art institutions have a unique role in telling our stories, reflecting our cultures and helping us understand the world around us,” Victoria J. Rogers, vice president of arts at the Knight Foundation, said in a statement. “In Detroit, the effective application of technology, among both long-standing and emerging artists and art organisations, will be particularly salient. We are proud that our new initiative is supporting organizations and artists who are ensuring Detroit remains a vibrant and creative center of informed and engaged communities.”

In past rounds of grants, the Knight Foundation has supported digital initiatives at museums in Miami, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

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