RISCA Commits to Improving Communications for the Arts Sector – New Position Made Possible Through Federal Funding

With funding support from our federal partners at the National Endowment for the ArtsRISCA is currently looking to hire a person who can direct planning and communication efforts that support the Rhode Island arts community and the work of the state arts council. 

During the past year and a half, we’ve been traveling the state, listening to the needs of artists and cultural workers, arts organizations and arts educators, as we put together our latest Strategic Plan. Time and again we heard you say we needed to increase the visibility of the arts – and the work of the State Arts Council – in ways that acknowledge the important role art plays in the economic, educational and cultural vitality of our state and its residents. This priority found its way into our Strategic Plan, which was adopted in May of this year. 

When the pandemic struck, Governor Raimondo focused the State’s energy on controlling the spread of the virus. She was also concerned about the social and emotional health and well-being of Rhode Islanders. She came to RISCA to explore ways the arts could be more “present” in people’s lives. The Arts Council undertook a number of initiatives, including #RIArts, an Artist Relief Fund, direct support for artists and arts administrators on how to navigate the crisis, summer programming for kids through a collaboration with the State Department of Education, and other efforts. 

We quickly found that our ability to amplify these programs was hampered by a lack of capacity to plan and implement cohesive communications. This became even more challenging as RISCA staff time was channeled toward direct help to those impacted by the crisis. We circled back to our Strategic Plan, heard what you told us, and knew we needed to take our communications efforts to the next level. 

Part of the Coronavirus Relief Fund earlier this year, championed by our RI Congressional Delegation, included funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. While most of Rhode Island’s portion went to support our nonprofit arts community, funds were also available to create a Senior Administrative Aide position tasked with communications related to COVID relief and agency/community visibility, for use during the crisis and beyond. 

Thirty-nine state arts agencies have a dedicated communications position. We are now recruiting for such a position.  If you have a background in communications and experience in marketing and communication in an arts or arts-related field, consider joining our team.  For information and to apply, go to apply.ri.gov and search for Senior Administrative Aide.  

Randall Rosenbaum
Executive Director
Rhode Island State Council on the Arts

An Update from RISCA on October Deadline

July 27, 2020

Dear Friends:

I wanted to take a moment to briefly update you on a few things regarding RISCA, our current round of grants, and preparations for our October 1 deadline. 

In previous communications we’ve discussed how the state’s financial situation has affected the grant applications we received back in April of this year. To recap, all applications have been reviewed by peer review panelists and have had an initial review by our Council. However, we will not be announcing any grants until after the General Assembly has passed a budget and Governor Raimondo has signed it into law. 

For now, the Governor and General Assembly are waiting until Congress has addressed the very serious challenges – financial and otherwise – facing us through the Coronavirus pandemic. There is some reason to believe that additional resources will be available through the federal government to support Rhode Island, and our state budget will be passed once Washington has finalized a relief package. 

Aside from delaying notification on grants that were scheduled to begin on July 1, what does that mean for us? Currently, Rhode Island has an estimated $400 million deficit going into this fiscal year. A deficit of this magnitude would mean significant cuts across state government, including cuts in support of the arts. Under the circumstances, the appropriate thing for us to do is wait until we know something about our budget before we take any action regarding grants or other financial support to the arts community. 

Typically we would “open up” our next cycle of grant applications on August 1. This would allow artists and arts organizations about two months to prepare and submit their application for RISCA’s October 1 deadline. We have decided not to open this next cycle of grant applications until we know more about our budget. In the event of significant cuts we may be forced to reduce or even eliminate October 1 grant opportunities.  Please know that if funding is available for October 1 grants we may be able to adjust the deadline to provide additional time for applications to be prepared and submitted, depending on when a budget is finalized. 

We don’t anticipate the need to take drastic measures, but we must be prepared nonetheless. For now, please know that we value the contributions that you make to the cultural and economic vitality of our state, and we look forward to continuing to support your work on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. 

Please stay safe and healthy! 






RISCA Thanks Arts Endowment for Close to $1 Million in Federal Funding to Rhode Island Arts Organizations

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter visits New Urban Arts in Providence during May 2019 visit to Rhode Island.  Pictured with Daniel Schleifer, Executive Director of New Urban Arts. – photo by Randall Rosenbaum

Providence, RI – June 10, 2020

The National Endowment for the Arts announced today that it has awarded grants totaling $976,200 to seven arts organizations and agencies in Rhode Island. These federal grants support projects by some of Rhode Island’s major arts institutions. In addition, the Endowment works in partnership with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) to ensure that the people of Rhode Island have access to the arts.  A grant of $776,200 to RISCA helps to support projects throughout the Ocean State.

In announcing the grants, Mary Anne Carter, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said, “These awards demonstrate the continued creativity and excellence of arts projects across America and the nimbleness of our nation’s arts organizations in the face of a national crisis that shuttered their doors for months. By funding arts projects in every U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia, the National Endowment for the Arts again celebrates the opportunity to make the arts available to every corner of the country and to see how the arts can heal and unite us.”

Over $84 million in new grants to 1,144 organizations in every U.S. state and territory were announced today by the National Endowment for the Arts.  A complete list of grants, organized by state and city, can be found here.

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, said, “we are delighted that the National Endowment for the Arts has supported Rhode Island through these grants. This federal support, matched by funding from the State of Rhode Island, ensures that thousands of Rhode Islanders will benefit from the arts, economically, educationally and culturally. Every grant that is made by RISCA and the Arts Endowment at the state and local level is a reflection of a national effort to make the arts available to all of our citizens, and as such is enormously important. The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is proud to work with our federal partner in that effort.”

Here is the list of grants in Rhode Island that are part of this recent announcement by the National Endowment for the Arts:


Rhode Island  
Number of Grants: 7 Total Dollar Amount: $976,200

Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre (aka The Gamm)

$10,000 Pawtucket, RI
Art Works – Theater

To support the production of An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.


$20,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works

To support salaries and related administrative costs for Futureworlds, an arts education and mentorship program for youth.


Community Musicworks (aka CMW)
$70,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Music

To support free music education and performance programs for at-risk children and youth.


$60,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works

To support a series of multidisciplinary arts presentations.

Rhode Island School of Design
$20,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Media Arts

To support development of a toolkit and an artist residency enabling the creation of new works in spatial audio and computer-based live performance.


Rhode Island School of Design (on behalf of RISD Museum)
$20,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Museums

To support a traveling exhibition of works by Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969).


Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
$776,200 Providence, RI
Partnerships (State & Regional) – State & Regional


To support arts programs, services, and activities associated with carrying out the agency’s National Endowment for the Arts-approved strategic plan.

Applications for these Art Works and Our Town recommended grants were submitted in summer 2019 and approved at the end of March 2020. Given the impact of Covid-19 and the time required to make project adjustments, project descriptions can be found through the Arts Endowment’s Recent Grant Search. This list is current as of 6/9/2020.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

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. Visit www.arts.ri.gov for more information.