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Knight Foundation Will Award $750,000 to Tech Projects Connecting People with the Arts

Above: ISM Hexadome, a 360-degree audiovisual experience, hosted by the Gray Area Festival in San Francisco in partnership with the Institute for Sound & Music in Berlin.Photo: Gray Area Festival.
Above: ISM Hexadome, a 360-degree audiovisual experience, hosted by the Gray Area Festival in San Francisco in partnership with the Institute for Sound & Music in Berlin.Photo: Gray Area Festival.

MIAMI, FLORIDA—The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced that it will award $750,000 to projects that demonstrate innovative ways cultural institutions can engage audiences through immersive technology. Its call for proposals began during San Francisco’s Gray Area Festival, which ran from July 25 to July 28 and aims to “advance culture and the common good through the lens of art and technology.”

“We’ve seen how immersive technologies can reach new audiences and engage existing audiences in new ways,” said Chris Barr, director for arts and technology innovation at the Knight Foundation. “But arts institutions need more knowledge to move beyond just experimenting with these technologies to becoming proficient in leveraging their full potential.”

The foundation is encouraging technologists as well as creatives partnering with arts institutions to apply. Applications will be accepted until August 12, and the recipients will be revealed in the fall. Grantees will also have the opportunity to work with Microsoft, which is partnering with the foundation on the initiative. “We strongly believe that immersive technology can enhance the ability for richer experiences, deeper storytelling, and broader engagement,” said Mira Lane, a partner director of ethics and society at Microsoft.

Last year, the foundation gave $600,000 to twelve projects that had nine months to create or refine a prototype of their idea, which was presented at a conference in April. Among the grant recipients were Wikimedia, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia; Alley Interactive, a digital consultancy; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Art, Science & Technology; as well as Miami Beach’s the Bass, which is using 360-degree photo-technology to record and digitally share the experience of an exhibition online; Arkansas’s the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which is developing mobile software to deliver immersive audio-only stories to museum visitors; and Philadelphia’s the Monument Lab, which is creating digital tools for the public to share input on historical monuments.

July 31, 2019