RISCA Applauds Federal Announcement of Support for Arts Programs in Rhode Island

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Community MusicWorks, one of the Rhode Island recipients of a recent grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts today announced that five Rhode Island organizations, including the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, will receive $878,700 in federal grants through the National Endowment for t­­­he Arts (NEA). These grants will support activities in communities throughout Rhode Island that affect our state’s economy, quality of life and educational programs.

Governor Gina M. Raimondo expressed appreciation for the federal investment in Rhode Island’s cultural sector. “We’re grateful for the NEA’s support of arts programming and activities in our state,” said Governor Raimondo. “Every dollar that goes to support the arts results in more jobs for Rhode Islanders, an economy and cultural life that makes our state an exciting destination for visitors and business alike, and innovative arts education programs like RISD’s Project Open Door, that helps Rhode Island high school students prepare for exciting opportunities in the arts.”

In announcing the grants, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu said, “The American people are recognized for their innovative spirit and these grants represent the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations. I am proud of the role the National Endowment for the Arts plays in helping advance the creative capacity of the United States.”

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, applauded the federal arts funding agency for its support. “We have seen clear evidence that the arts contribute dramatically to the Rhode Island economy and to the education of our children,” Rosenbaum said. “This federal support, matched with state dollars, helps to ensure that we continue to be a creative state, able to compete on the national stage with young people who learn through the arts to be the imaginative thinkers and problem-solvers of the twenty-first century.”

Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation is also very supportive of the federal investment in the arts in Rhode Island.

Senator Jack Reed said, “I am pleased to have led efforts to secure this federal funding to support arts education and boost our arts economy.  By combining federal grants with state and local funds and private donations, we can ensure that more Rhode Islanders have access to free and affordable concerts, performances, and opportunities for cultural enrichment.” Senator Jack Reed is a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the NEA’s budget, and he brought NEA Chairman Jane Chu to Rhode Island on two separate occasions.  Reed noted that White House budget for FY 2018 calls for an elimination of the NEA, among other cultural agencies like the National Endowment for the Humanities. “The arts may not have a place in the President’s budget, but they have a home in Rhode Island and I will continue to champion federal support for the arts nationwide.”

“Rhode Island punches well above our weight in the arts, thanks in part to smart federal investments like these,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “While funding for the arts and humanities represents only a small sliver of the federal budget, those dollars are put to work creating jobs and contributing to the quality of life we enjoy in Rhode Island. I’ll keep fighting to protect our creative sector from the extreme funding cuts proposed by President Trump.”

Congressman David Cicilline also expressed his support for the NEA and its work in Rhode Island. “The arts are critical to our quality of life and play an essential role in Rhode Island’s economy,” said Cicilline. “These grants will help students and artists across our community develop their talents and enhance our state’s reputation as a center of creativity and entrepreneurship. I am proud to be a strong supporter of these types of federal investments to help make Rhode Island more vibrant and economically prosperous.”

“Rhode Island is known for its arts community, and this federal investment will enable local organizations to continue building our state’s vibrant, world-class arts scene,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “The arts enhance the quality of life for Rhode Islanders and serve as an important economic driver within our state. I’m pleased these funds will be used help to support jobs in the arts, bolster education and ensure the Ocean State remains an exciting place to live, work, and visit.”

A list of the projects receiving funding is below:

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

$718,700 Providence, RI

Partnerships (State & Regional)

To support Partnership Agreement activities associated with carrying out your NEA-approved State strategic plan.

Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre (aka The Gamm)

$50,000 Pawtucket, RI

Our Town – Design

To support The Gamm’s design of a cultural anchor for Pawtucket. The project will center on the community engagement and design phase of a plan to restore a Pawtucket building into a cultural facility that will be the new Gamm Theatre. The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre will partner with the City of Pawtucket and additional community partners on the design process. The facility will serve an estimated 71,000 residents of the city as an anchor for a newly revitalized downtown.

Community Musicworks (aka CMW)

$65,000 Providence, RI

Art Works – Music

To support free music educational and performance programs for at-risk children and youth. Resident musicians in the program will provide instrumental lessons as well as instruction in subjects such as music theory and improvisation. Other activities will include a leadership development program for advanced students, performance opportunities for students, and professional concerts by resident musicians.

FirstWorks

$30,000 Providence, RI

Art Works – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works

To support a series of multidisciplinary presentations and accompanying outreach activities. Participating artists including Bandaloop, Chick Corea, Betsayda Machada, and Qryq Qyz will perform. FirstWorks will offer related engagement activities including local artist showcases, panel discussions, master classes, films, social dance events, experiential learning, and performances in community spaces.

Rhode Island School of Design (aka RISD)

$15,000 Providence, RI

Art Works – Arts Education

To support Project Open Door. The free, after-school and summer visual arts education program is intended to serve high school students and teachers from underserved communities. Participating youth will develop technical skills in the visual arts and prepare competitive college entrance portfolios. Graduate students supervised by RISD faculty will provide arts instruction in a variety of artistic media. Students will have the opportunity to work in an open studio, build portfolios of creative work, and make museum and gallery visits-including an annual visit to New York City.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts.

About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency, supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. For more information on RISCA and its programs, please visit www.arts.ri.gov.

Video and Pictures from RISCA’s 50 Anniversary Rally at the State House

Rally Capitol TV

Click on this image to see the Capitol TV video of the “Rally for RISCA’s 50th”

Thanks to all of you who attended RISCA’s 50th Birthday party at the Rhode Island State House on June 1st!  We had a great turnout, and a lot of fun.

The highlight of the event was our 50 Speakers for 50 Years of Public Support for the Arts in Rhode Island, when 50 arts and political leaders in our state took 60 seconds apiece to creatively express their support for public funding for the arts.  And it was VERY creative.  Click on the image above to see the video, courtesy of Rhode Island Capitol TV.

And check out pictures of the event on the RISCA Flickr page, courtesy of photographer Lew Place III.

RISCA’s Adrienne Adeyemi joins New Urban Arts Director on RIPR interview

On the off-chance that you weren’t listening to Rhode Island Public Radio on Thursday morning, May 25th at 6:51am, you missed RISCA’s Adrienne Adeyemi join Dan Schleifer from New Urban Arts talk about New Urban Arts at 20 and the threats public funding for the arts are currently facing.  Thanks to modern technology you can listen at your leisure by going to http://ripr.org/post/ri-artscape-new-urban-arts-20 .  Enjoy.

ripr

Grateful for the recognition – Pell Awards 2017

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Last evening (May 22nd) was the 21st Annual Pell Awards, an event hosted by Trinity Repertory Company to “celebrate outstanding contributions in the arts.”  The event was held in the spectacular new Waterfire Art Center in Providence.  RISCA was honored for its 50 years of support for the arts in Rhode Island, and shared the stage with a distinguished group of awardees:  Joe and Sally Dowling, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, and screen and stage legend Jessica Lange.

It was a thrill and honor for RISCA to be recognized for the work it does on behalf of the arts in Rhode Island. I tried to express our gratitude in my remarks while accepting the award on behalf of the RISCA board and staff, but for me personally the best expression of our work is in the achievements of others. I couldn’t help but feel a thrill when Joe and Sally Dowling talked about their personal engagement with Trinity artistic directors and actors over the years, and how their commitment to an art form and an ensemble has meant the difference, not only for them but frankly for all of us who love the arts in Rhode Island.

I have long admired Ricardo Pitts-Wiley. He has a strong and steadfast commitment to the arts as an actor and director, and an unending work ethic. It has, sadly, been a challenge for African-American artists to build a career in the arts in this state and this country.  Frankly, agencies like ours struggle with the most appropriate ways to equitably support work by African, Asian, Native and Latino artists, and Ricardo has been one of our toughest critics, which – perversely, I know – makes him one of our most important friends.  In spite of the challenges – and with the help of his wife and partner, Bernadette – Ricardo has built Mixed Magic Theatre into an important company sharing the work of the African-American experience, among other works, with a Rhode Island audience.

Finally, I was moved by Shura Baryshnikov‘s introduction of her mother, Jessica Lange.  Shura talked about how her mother’s work and approach to life helped to shape her own as a dancer and performer, and how that inspiration is finding root in her own daughters’ lives.  This reminded me of the importance and influence of community. We Rhode Islanders take for granted the small size of our state, which I believe is one of our greatest advantages. Shura is the co-artistic director of the Doppelganger Dance Collective, and this young company has been influence by the dance, and the music, and the theatre and visual and literary arts it sees all around it.  Generations of theatre artists have been influenced by the work of Trinity Rep, and it has spawned a number of important companies and ensembles in our state.  The Rhode Island Philharmonic and its Music School have an outsized influence over the growth of music in Rhode Island. And the list goes on.

So, sure.  RISCA was absolutely honored to be recognized for 50 years of work on behalf of the arts in Rhode Island. We’re grateful to Trinity Rep and others for the award. But for those of us who work at RISCA, the excitement of helping to grow and support the arts in Rhode Island is, indeed, its own reward.

Some observations on diversity and equity as RISCA planning process begins

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I’m fortunate to serve as a member of the Rhode Island College Inclusive Excellence Committee.  Under the leadership of RIC’s President, Dr. Frank Sanchez, and its wonderful Associate Vice President for Community, Equity and Diversity, Anna Cano Morales, RIC has taken a leadership role in promoting greater diversity, equity, inclusion and accountability.

Since these are issues of concern to us here at the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, I’m using my membership on this committee as a learning experience that will inform the work we do on our own strategic plan.

The committee met yesterday on the RIC campus for our first working meeting. After an introduction by President Sanchez we were led through a facilitated discussion by Dr. David E. Jones, a respected scholar-practitioner and director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.  Here are some of my take-aways from his presentation, and from the discussion that followed.

  • For the work to begin, be sure to establish a shared language, and then strive to “anchor” equity and diversity into the work of RISCA (how do we “bake it into” our work as an agency)
  • “Make folks feel comfortable with the uncomfortable” (thanks, Ray Watson, for that quote)
  • Reflection is very important to this process, and how we invite people in is critical
  • How can we ensure that this work is visible – internally and particularly externally?
  • For equity and diversity to thrive, ensure that there is an alignment of organizational culture with mission, vision and values
  • “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
  • We need the voices of privilege to speak up and speak out. A good example is the video “Cracking the Code: A Trip to the Grocery Store”, which shows that those representing the so-called privileged culture must speak out on behalf of equity and diversity for change to happen.
  • Name the inequities in policies and programs
  • Have a score card to hold you accountable
  • Best practices
    • prepare an inclusion annual report
    • have an online presence to showcase inclusion efforts – particularly on social media
    • identify an “inclusion representative”
    • reflect and support goals for inclusion in all programs
    • celebrate inclusion accomplishments and annual present awards
  • “Inclusion is not a service, placement or program. It is a Mindset.”

I’m grateful to Rhode Island College for including me and other community members in this effort.  It shows an institution that is thinking about the welfare of the entire community.  I look forward to all I will learn through my participation.

Arts Account for Over $1 Billion in Compensation to Rhode Island Workers

raimondo-steel-yard

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo talks with The Steel Yard director Howie Sneider during a visit to the Providence-based arts organization. Compensation in Rhode Island’s arts and cultural sector was over $1 billion according to a report released today by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis

New Study by U.S. Dept of Commerce and NEA Shows Rhode Island Leading Region in State Employment in the Arts

Providence, RI – April 19, 2017

More than $1 billion in compensation was paid to Rhode Islanders involved in the arts and cultural production sector in 2014, according to a new study released today through a collaboration of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

“Today’s report from the federal government shows that the arts and culture create jobs and represent a significant share of employment in our state,” Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. “We are grateful to the work of the State Arts Council and the many artists and cultural organizations who contribute so much to the economic and cultural life of our state.”

According to the report, close to 18,000 Rhode Islanders were employed in the arts and cultural sector in 2014, representing 3.7% of all employment in the state. Rhode Island leads the New England region in the percentage of state employment attributed to the arts and culture and ranked No. 2 in the percentage of total state compensation credited to the arts (3.6%), following Massachusetts. Continue reading

RI Congressmen sign on to letter urging increased support for NEA

letter-to-congress

U.S. Representatives David Cicilline (RI-01) and Jim Langevin (RI-02) have signed onto a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on the Interior, urging them to increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts to $155 million, an increase of about $7 million from its current level of about $148 million.  More than 150 Members of Congress have signed onto the letter.

“Few other federal investments have such a widespread impact and multiplying effect across the nation as does the Arts Endowment,” the letter reads. “For every one dollar spent on direct grants, nearly nine non-federal dollars are matched, generating $600 million in matching support while at the same time enriching our children and communities with access to the arts they might no otherwise have.”