The Knight Foundation chose Amalgam out of thousands of applicants, as a result of Johnson's proposal, titled Up, Up and Away: Building a Programming Space at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse.
At Knight, we spend a lot of time talking with and listening to people from every segment of the arts ecosystem, from makers to administrators, from everyday people to experts. We've invested more than $210 million in the art ecologies of eight Knight cities: Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit; Macon, Georgia; Miami; Philadelphia; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota. The intent? To energize communities through our support for artistic expression. We believe access to the arts is not a matter of privilege, but the arts should be available to all, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender or ability. And we fund artists and institutions whose artistic practices reflect the rich diversity of these cities.
Johnson only applied after a customer at the store recommended she should. Looks like it's paid off.
She intends to use the grant to will expand the shop into what she calls "Amalgam University," where writers and illustrators can take classes on drawing, writing, pitching and publishing in the comics and related industries.
It's not a purely altruistic move though. She told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a number of small press comic creators haven't learned the craft of creating comic books to a sufficient commercial or artistic level to succeed in her store. And this way she hopes to help budding creators succeed in their work both for their careers – and for hers. In Inquirer reports she wants to "find a way to equip aspiring comic creators, particularly those from disenfranchised communities without the means to go to art school, with the tools to compete with mainstream comic books."
Spending the money will see the store double in size and "create a permanent programming space."