Local Current Blog

From a Frogtown song to a jazz lab, St. Paul musical projects among Knight Arts Challenge finalists

Some of the Knight Arts Challenge finalists propose musical events along the Mississippi River shoreline in St. Paul, seen here in 2013. (m01229/CC BY 2.0)

The Knight Foundation has announced the finalists for the fourth annual Knight Arts Challenge. In 2017, the foundation is granting $7.8 million to arts projects in each of four cities: Akron, Ohio; Detroit; Miami; and Saint Paul.

The wide range of Minnesota finalists include the Warming House, Penumbra Theatre, and the Frogtown Neighborhood Association. Some of the 65 finalists will share Saint Paul’s $1.3 million share of this year’s grants. All the projects use the arts to enrich the communities of Saint Paul.

Here are a few of the music-related finalists.

Border CrosSING: To demonstrate that well-known choral masterworks are relevant to all audiences through a mashup of rarely performed music from 18th-century Mexico and a bilingual version of Handel’s “Messiah”

Bully Creative Shop: To honor the spirits of Old Rondo St. Paul with a “second line” — part brass band jazz, part opera — that is a live experience and filmed for later projection on buildings in the neighborhood

Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education: To connect young musicians with professionals through an Experience Jazz Maker Lab that explores connections between jazz, electronic music, hip-hop and other genres

Dangerous Productions: To build community in Frogtown and highlight local artists by having a team of professional artists write an original piece of music about the neighborhood that is then transformed into a large-scale music video

Kate Nowlin: To explore the primal instinct to return home through musically driven webisodes that focus on three midlife women who return to their birthplace and revive their teenage cover band

Nautilus Music-Theater: To give artistic voice to people living with dementia through a new musical that weaves together popular tunes with a new electro-acoustic score

One Voice Mixed Chorus: To give voice to transgender singers across the state by hosting a two-day Transgender Voices Festival

Warming House: To connect St. Paul residents more deeply with the Mississippi River through free performances that highlight the music of the region and are staged in river-connected parks and sites

The Knight Foundation is a national foundation that invests in journalism and the arts in cities like Saint Paul that brothers John and James Knight published successful newspapers in. Contenders for the Knight Arts Challenge can be non-profit, a business, or independent artists. In the past three years of this contest, about 2/3 of the finalists received grants of varying sizes.

For a complete list of finalists from Minnesota and the other four cities, see the foundation’s website. Winning ideas will be announced on Oct. 4.

Erianna Jiles is a student at Saint Paul College.