Knight Foundation Offers $750K in Grants for Immersive Tech in the Arts

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The Knight Foundation, focused on journalism and the arts, is opening a call-for-ideas from creatives and organizations using immersive technology to bring art to their audiences. Selected projects will be awarded a share of a $750,000 grant pool, as well as mentorship and “technology support” from Microsoft.

Founded in 1950, the Knight Foundation is the legacy of John “Jack” Knight and James “Jim” Knight, brothers who founded Knight Newspapers. It’s one of the largest foundations in the US by assets, according to the Foundation Center.

The Knight Foundation’s Chris Barr revealed this week that the foundation has committed $750,000 in grants for US-based projects using immersive technology to bring art to audiences.

Beginning on July 27, we are opening a call-for-ideas from cultural organizations, technologists and others who are working to use immersive technology in the arts. We hope to find innovative uses for this technology, new approaches for moving audiences through these experiences, and opportunities to engage new and diverse audiences.

How can these technologies help us reach new people? How do we make the experience before, during and after putting on a headset delightful? How do we service these experiences efficiently? How should these experiences be distributed and exhibited? How can this new form of storytelling be used for more inclusive stories? How can we use immersive tech to expand the reach of the arts beyond physical locations?

Grant recipients will be awarded a share of a pool of $750,000 in funding and receive mixed-reality mentorship and technology support from Microsoft.

Barr says that the full guidelines of the program will be available on the Arts section of the foundation’s website on July 27th. The foundation is also hosting a webinar on July 30th at 12PM PT [your timezone here] to offer more detail on the initiative and answer questions. However, the webinar has reached a capacity limit, though Barr says that the foundation is looking to offer up a second session eventually.

In his announcement of the program, Barr says that while immersive tech was once “on the fringe of the arts field,” things have radically changed. “This technology is now widely available, and artists, creators and storytellers are using it to make experiences that go beyond demo mode and into deep, meaningful creative works. It’s finally here!”

In fact, Barr suggests that one reason for this new grant program focused on immersive technology in the arts is because of how many artists are already using the tech; in a 2018 Knight Foundation grant program focused on technology and the arts, “nearly a quarter of the 900+ applications we received for that opportunity focused on the use of virtual or augmented reality.”



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