The Charlotte branch of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced this week that it’s spreading $598,416 across 21 arts-based projects that will be seen in the new year.

Two really caught my eye. XOXO Performance will receive $30,000 to produce an immersive theater piece exploring the question, “What is the American dream in the 21st century?” The piece will involve a choose-your-own-adventure experience.

Also, $25,000 is being awarded to Caroline Calouche & Co. to bring a contemporary dance and circus arts show to First Ward Park in September.

I love the idea that an audience can be immersed in a show’s plot, or can experience a show in an unusual space. It’s an opportunity to shake up a spectator’s concept of what’s normal.

All 21 projects will be rolling out to Charlotte audiences throughout the year.

We’ll see an expansion of community programming around ArtPop, which features the work of local artists on available billboard space. We’ll see more small-scale performances by Opera Carolina’s Opera Unlimited series. We’ll see the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra mashing up music by Brahms and Radiohead to expand to new audiences.

“Knight Foundation’s goal is to make art general in communities, so that (it) is seen, heard, felt and experienced throughout a city’s many neighborhoods,” Charles Thomas, Charlotte Program Director for the Foundation, wrote in an email. “We want people to have access and engage with the arts where they live and work and play.”

Arts organizations were invited to submit proposals for consideration for this funding, and the Knight Arts team, along with Thomas, helped develop the grant portfolio.

As for choosing the funding recipients, Thomas wrote in an email, “Our strategy is to invest (in) fostering artistic excellence, and projects that are authentic to Charlotte and include a range of voices from the community.”

So while some of the bigger organizations are getting higher funding (think Arts and Science Council for a workshop series and coaching for cultural organizations, and The Mint Museum for an exhibition on contemporary work in the U.S.), there are plenty of other voices in the mix. Literally.

One Voice Chorus will perform the U.S. premiere of “Codebreaker,” telling the story of Alan Turing, who was prosecuted for being gay after helping the British break Nazi codes.

Charlotte Black Film Festival will get a boost to bring in more films by black filmmakers and actors.

And no matter what you see or choose to participate in during the year, Thomas said, “It’s an opportunity for the Charlotte community to participate in this wonderful menu of art. And that participation matters in creating a vibrant cultural arts scene.”

Check out the full menu of funding recipients below, and click here for more details on each project coming in 2017. And don’t forget to see something new next year.

– Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte

– ArtPop

– Arts and Science Council

– Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

– Caroline Calouche & Co.

– Charlotte Black Film Festival

– Charlotte Center for Literary Arts

– Charlotte Film Society

– Charlotte Jewish Film Festival

– Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Society

– Clayworks

– Jazz Arts Initiative

– The Mint Museum

– Opera Carolina

– OnQ Performing Arts

– One Voice Chorus

– Wall Poems

– Que-OS

– XOXO Performance

– Tosco Music

– 100 Word Film Festival

Photo: Charlotte Observer file

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