Detroit Symphony Orchestra Receives $2.5 Million from Knight Foundation

Mike Lawson • News • November 2, 2018

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The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has announced that it received a $2.5 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The grant is part of the foundation’s new investment in Detroit arts totaling $20 million. 

The grant to the DSO will support efforts to activate the orchestra’s Midtown Detroit campus (the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center) by presenting multi-disciplinary programming that attracts new audiences, transforming the façade of the building with digital content, and offering outdoor performances in the Sosnick Courtyard adjacent to Orchestra Hall that will be reconceived as a new community space.

“We are grateful to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for their incredible generosity both to the DSO and to the city of Detroit,” said DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons. “This is the most recent example of a long-standing partnership between our two organizations to increase access to music and the arts with projects aimed at community-building and engaging new audiences through technology.”

Recent DSO projects supported by the Knight Foundation include the groundbreaking Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which has reached over one million views since its launch in 2011; the world premiere in 2015 of Tod Machover’s Symphony in D, which featured community performers and utilized sound samples from Detroit residents; and the 2015 festival Motown Meets The Big Easy. The DSO was also recognized in last year’s Knight Arts Challenge, with a grant to enable the orchestra to offer new “Mobile Maxcasts”– performances broadcast on a mobile video truck in community settings around Metro Detroit.

The Knight Foundation’s $20 million investment also includes support for many organizations that collaborate with or share a connection with the DSO, including the Sphinx Organization, Michigan Opera Theatre, Concert of Colors, and others.

“Great art, tough art, challenging art helps to tell a great city’s own story. Nowhere is this more true than today’s Detroit,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president. “This is the place where art, culture and design have changed the narrative of a community. And in the art world, Detroit has become the new Berlin.”  

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