David Vieira: The experience of community

One of the co-founder of The Arctic Playhouse Theatre in West Warwick, David Vieira wants to share his love of live performance and community.

Art — in particular, theatre and live music — has always played a pivotal role in my life, starting when I was a teen through now in my 60s. I learned about the world through plays and music. Even if I wasn’t always aware of it, I was learning about life and about living with other people as I was being entertained.

Now that I am older, I am trying to pass on the importance of live entertainment and the arts by being part owner of a community theatre. With two partners, I founded a non-profit theatre in West Warwick three years ago. Seeing the responses of the patrons and the dedication of the hard-working actors and performers has convinced me even more about the value of the arts.

More than ever, it is important to get people together to experience live music and theatre. With our cell phones and computers, and video games, we can be very isolated. The theatre does not only entertain, it gives us the shared experience of being together.

DAVID VIEIRA is part owner of the The Arctic Playhouse Theatre, a nonprofit community theatre in West Warwick. He is a husband, father, and grandfather.
To read more art stories, visit Rhode Island Art Stories. To contribute your own, email: mka [at] mkimarnold [dot] com.

Rose Weaver: The arts help us to heal, in community

When art conveys an aspect of human experience, it can touch people’s lives in profound and meaningful ways. Rose Weaver tells a story of how her artistic work helped her and others to deal with difficult and complicated family losses.

Writing plays, storytelling, composing songs, and singing are analogous to food and water for me. Without them I would not have survived an abusive past living under Jim Crow laws or gender discrimination since birth. Looking forward, I know I cannot endure the future if being an artist and receiving artistic grant support is forever taken from me.

Spruced physically, spiritually, and mentally in their abundant guises, performing and writing provides me the artistic means through which I find personal and professional freedom and salvation.

“Memories are the lifeblood of a family’s identity.” My play, Skips in the Record, a RISCA 2004 Fellowship winner, is a tragic comedy about a southern black American family coping with Alzheimer’s disease. Through three generations of women, it focuses on the fear of losing memory, history, thoughts, ideas, recognition and the urgent desire to preserve all of these. I witnessed my grandmother’s steady decline and death from complications of Alzheimer’s. I saw my mother’s struggle as a caregiver who could barely read prescription labels.  A few years later, as my friend and colleague Sylvia Ann Soares’s mother moved deeper into Alzheimer’s disease, again I saw first hand how devastating the disease is to the caregiver, the patient, the whole family. I needed to write and capture my experiences in order to better understand, ease my fears, heal, and to help my community comprehend the scope of Alzheimer’s whole body deterioration.

Skips in the Record was one of my thesis plays at Brown University as a mature MFA student of fifty years old. A one-act play in the beginning, it was not until I was awarded the RISCA Playwriting Fellowship in 2004 that I was able to have the time and resources to create focus groups, do extensive research, and expand the one-act play into a full length script. Performances were welcomed by hospitals, churches, community organizations and even First Night Providence at Trinity Rep.

A few months ago, another dear friend, Pamela Lambert, who acted in Skips in the Record along side Sylvia Ann Soares, confided in me that as a result of her acting in the play over the years, she is presently able to better care for her own mother who is losing the battle to the disease.

An executive who worked with an Alzheimer’s organization said, “Skips in the Record is successful and highly regarded by the audience as an excellent and innovative approach to educate the community about Alzheimer’s disease.” Education using the arts allows a person with no education or one with multiple degrees to benefit on a visceral as well as intellectual level from the messages in artistic representations.

ROSE WEAVER is a playwright, vocalist, and performer. She is currently Artist-in-Residence at Brown University’s Rites & Reason Theatre.
To read more art stories, visit Rhode Island Art Stories. To contribute your own, email: mka [at] mkimarnold [dot] com.

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.

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Grateful for the recognition – Pell Awards 2017

2017-05-23 10_52_50-Randall Rosenbaum

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.

Do you have a “clean energy” story to tell? The RI Energy Office wants to know!

energy

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources is charged with leading Rhode Island to a secure, cost-effective and sustainable energy future, and they are interested in hearing how artists and arts organizations use clean energy or employ conservation efforts in their work.

If you have a story to tell, please share it with Robert Beadle (Robert.Beadle@energy.ri.gov), Communications Manager at the State’s Office of Energy Resources.  Or you can share your story with the world using the Twitter address @energyri and the hashtag #1000megawatts