Since 2013, Van Dyke Horn has led the annual community outreach, media relations, event management and paid advertising campaigns for the Knight Arts Challenge Detroit. We develop and execute all elements of the locally tailored and constantly evolving campaign, from the spring application phase through the fall award ceremony.
A series of community engagement events to promote and provide opportunities to meet with visiting Knight Foundation staff were planned and produced in multiple formats, including large town hall meetings, one-on-one office hours, and small-scale ‘living-room’ meetings hosted by previous winners. Van Dyke Horn reached out to local artists and organizations to support and host outreach events. This outreach encouraged ownership and ongoing partnership between past Knight Arts grantees, Knight Foundation staff, and the Detroit arts community.
Van Dyke Horn also conceived, developed and administered a public promotion campaign known as the “People’s Choice Awards,” where selected Challenge finalists self-drove campaigns to publicize their artistic practice and compete to win an additional cash prize from Knight Foundation through an online voting competition. The resulting media and community attention succeeded in raising the profile of individual artists and groups, and the Challenge as a whole.
Media announcements and promotion of application events and deadlines, finalists, and winning projects have been featured in target publications every year, including broadcast interviews and performances from current and previous winners and Knight Arts executive staff.
Based on its high rate of engagement since its inception, the Knight Arts Challenge Detroit has run continually since 2013. It has been extended twice, most recently in 2018, through an additional $20 million commitment from Knight Foundation to a collection of new and continuing arts initiatives in the city. By the end of 2019, the Challenge awarded over $52 million in matching grants to over 300 new arts ideas in Detroit and continues to fund projects from a variety of disciplines that represent the diverse communities and voices throughout the city.