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Local arts programs get big boost with Knight Foundation grants

admin | 12/28/2011, 7:30 a.m.

Thirty-one fresh, innovative ideas from some of the top artistic minds and cultural groups in South Florida have been selected as 2011 recipients of the Knight Arts Challenge. The matching grant program, now in its fourth year, will provide $2.9 million in funding for mostly small, artist-driven groups who are determined to transform the South Florida community through the arts. Winners in Miami-Dade County include: Karen Peterson and Dancers, who will provide dance instruction to 450 middle and senior high students with special needs; the Overtown Rhythm and Arts Festival; Peter London Global Dance Theater; The M Ensemble Company; and several programs that will teach young people about and give instruction in producing traditional Haitian art at the Little Haiti Cultural Center and the Young at Art Museum. We are looking for the best ideas and they tend to bubble up naturally, reflecting an ever-growing diverse community, said Tatiana Hernandez, arts program associate for the Knight Foundation. In fact, this was our most diverse group of winners we received applications from a lot of smaller galleries and community-based groups. Word is finally getting out that this opportunity is for everyone. Special-needs youth learn the art of dance Karen Peterson has been working with M-DC special-needs youth for six years from Homestead to North Miami Senior high schools. But with a $10,000 grant, this celebrated choreographer will be able to double the number of children in next years program. We will have two residency programs at Booker T. Washington High and at the South Dade Performing Arts Center culminating with two gala concerts in March, she said. Many of these children would never have the chance to work with trained dance instructors. It helps them gain self-confidence, self-esteem, teamwork and expands their physical abilities. Showing their created dance to their peers and family is the highlight for them. London brings international flavor to Little Haiti Peter London, 51, says he still cannot believe that his newly-formed dance troupe, Peter London Global Dance Theater, was given a whopping $120,000 one of the largest grants this year. Its unbelievable and amazing, he said. We are proud to be one of the resident dance companies at the Little Haiti Cultural Center and that will be our home base. But my vision is to showcase our work all over the community in Hialeah, Little Havana, Aventura, South Dade and in Broward County. Theres a lot to do to establish a professional dance company but we have the foundation talented young dancers who dance for the love of the art. By D. Kevin McNeir kmcneir@miamitimesonline.com