Tatiana Hernandez, Knight Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer/Arts

FUNDING AREAS: Creative space making, arts innovation, and Knight Arts Challenge

CONTACT: hernandez@knightfoundation.org, 305-908-2673

IP TAKE: Hernandez manages the Knight Arts Challenge, a relatively new program at the foundation that's been funding arts projects in eight communities across the United States. Hernandez has singled out projects that involve audiences "as more than just consumers, but as participants and creators" and projects that engage diverse audiences.

PROFILE: To start with some programmic context, here's a brief overview of the Knight Arts Challenge: It's a competition in eight U.S. communities that provides funding for projects that engage communities in the arts. Grants have already been awarded for arts projects in some cities; for other cities selections are in process; still others are yet to come. Projects supported through the challenge sometimes also fall in line with the Knight Foundation's four arts initiatives: Creative Space Making, Making Arts General, Institutional Reform, and Spurring Innovation. But the bottom line is that engaging communities is a top priority.

Enter Tatiana Hernandez, who's been with Knight since 2011.  Hernandez manages the Knight Arts Challenge, and she's traveled the country to search for "ideas big and small" that rethink how the arts fit into a community. She described it this way in a recent foundation interview:

The most successful organizations who have built new audiences in the last ten years are the organizations and spaces that aren't thinking about people as audiences but as communities. Approaches that solely improve marketing and communications to reach new people just aren't relevant anymore. People are seeking deeper attachments to the things they care about.

Hernandez's bio on the Knight Foundation website shares:

Hernandez serves on the boards of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures and Machine Project, an experimental artist space in Los Angeles. She was named a 2014 Marshall Memorial Fellow, a program of the German Marshall Fund.

Before coming to Knight Foundation, Hernandez worked on issues in public education, most recently as the development director at Green Dot Public Schools where she oversaw $15 million per year in funding and was responsible for over $2 million in new support. Prior to her work in education, she served as the deputy director of programs for Best Buddies International, a Miami-based nonprofit that builds one-to-one friendship opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Hernandez has written and spoken on the importance of new organizational models, equity in grantmaking and innovation in the arts.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in international affairs and anthropology from The George Washington University.

Here's a look at a few Challenge grantees from Detroit, a recent city to receive grants through the program:

  • Heritage Works received a one-year, $50,000 grant to bring together choreographers to explore cultural expression and understanding.
  • The InsideOut Literary Arts Project received a two-year, $50,000 grant to connect with student writers and develop an online literary journal for them to display and market their work.
  • A state arts group received a one-year, $100,000 grant to enhance the Carr Center, a local arts complex, as an Artists Hub by adding different spaces for working artists and making spaces more accessible for communities.