Chariho Regional High School student represents RI in the national Poetry Out Loud competition 

 Semifinals and national competitions to be virtual, May 2 and May 27 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is POL-Logo-1.jpgChariho Regional High School’s Virginia Keister of Hope Valley represents Rhode Island in the national Poetry Out Loud memorization and recitation competition. She competes in the semifinalsSunday, May 2, at noon, and if she qualifies, will be in the finals, Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m. Both competitions will be streamed online during a webcast. 

Keister, the winner of the state competition in March, is one of 55 finalists from throughout the country. She will compete by reciting from memory classic and contemporary poems. All 55 compete in the semifinals. Nine will advance to the finals, and they will compete on Thursday, May 26, at 7 p.m. The 2021 national Poetry Out Loud winner receives $20,000; $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists, respectively 

On behalf of the RI State Council in the Arts, Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of RISCA, said, “We wish Virginia our very best as she competes on a national stage. We thank the Poetry Out Loud team here in RI for overcoming the challenges of this difficult year to ensure RI held the recitation competition. I encourage Rhode Islanders to tune in and support Virginia’s work, as well as the inspiring accomplishments of these students who put in many hours of practice and rehearsal to reach this incredible milestone.” 

Actor, singerwriter Shaun Taylor-Corbett will host the 2021 Poetry Out Loud national finals. For the 2021 national finals, the judges are Cathy Linh Che, Eduardo C. Corral, Gabriel Cortez, Idris Goodwin, Elisa New and Branden Wellington. 

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the state and jurisdictional arts agencies. In Rhode Island, the POL team is led by Martha Lenihan Lavieri. She has been the veteran program coordinator for RI Poetry Out Loud since 2013RI Poetry Out Loud employs two teaching artists as coaches, Kate Lohman and Damont Combs. 

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest inspires high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performances and competition. Poetry Out Loud ( is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. 

Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. Since its inception, 3.6 million students from 14,000 high schools nationwide have participated in Poetry Out Loud. This year, all preliminary school competitions and visits with teaching artists were done virtually. Students rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic to showcase their love and appreciation for poetry during this atypical school year.   

Artwork in the shape of face masks is on exhibit at the state art gallery

Face mask art celebrates creativity and protection against COVID-19

An exhibition of artwork in the shape of a face mask is now on display at the  Atrium Gallery on the main floor of the state’s Administration Building, One Capitol Hill, Providence. The Conceal/Reveal Mask Installation was created during the pandemic and presents a mix of handmade face masks by RI artists and members of the community, who answered an open call. The exhibit, which examines the intersection of the arts and healing will be open to the public, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 25.

On viewing the installation at the state’s gallery managed by the RI State Council on the Arts (RISCA), Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the state’s arts agency, said, “I am amazed and in awe of the quality of the pieces our community contributed to this timely show, which illustrates the healing power of the arts. Conceal/Reveal sends another important message, and that is to encourage community members to do their part and wear a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The face mask art exhibit was originated and displayed at the Providence Art Club’s Dodge House Gallery on Thomas Street. It included works by Rhode Islanders of all ages and members of the Art Club. In late fall, Rhode Island’s Art and Health Network expanded the show to include works by Department of Health staff, and faculty and students from The Pennfield School, Portsmouth. In addition, the 80 masks were exhibited at the Department of Health and the RI State Archives on Broad Street in Providence.

“Creativity is available to each of us and we experience it in profound ways during times of crisis.  The COVID-19 pandemic has been no exception. It has fed the creativity of artists and individuals from across the globe,” said Steven Boudreau, co-chair, RI State Arts and Health Network. “This Conceal/Reveal exhibition has drawn upon the experience, grief, humor and resilience that many Rhode Islanders have endured since the beginning of 2020.”

Exhibit details
Conceal/Reveal Mask Installation, an exhibit of artwork in the shape of a face mask.
Open to the public, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through June 25.
The Atrium Gallery, first floor of the state administration building, One Capitol Hill, Providence

Read more about the following: 
Atrium Gallery at One Capitol Hill
Rhode Island Art and Health Network
Providence Art Club
RI’s handmade face mask art

FAQs on the latest information for re-opening for the arts

The RI Arts Council hosted a webinar on April 9, 2021, to update the arts community on the latest rules and regulations regarding re-opening for the arts this spring and summer. If you missed it, here is a link to the recording. Below are the questions and answers that were covered in the webinar.

The speakers were:
Department of Health, Steven Boudreau;
Commerce RI Benjamin Mays;
City of Providence, ProvidenceACT: Lizzie Araujo;
and Department of Business Regulation, Elizabeth Tanner.

Keep checking back here for updates. Also, sign up for our newsletter for the latest information.

FAQs Re-opening for the arts

Outdoor Events

Q: What are current restrictions on outdoor performances? Number of attendees, distancing and masks? How does the size of the space influence any and all of these factors?

A: Outdoor performances are restricted to the same capacity requirements as outdoor venues of assembly which are currently capped at 500 people. Six-foot distancing must always be maintained between people who are not from the same household and masks must always be worn.

Size of the area does not impact the capacity restrictions and 500 people is the maximum any outdoor venue of assembly can go up to. However, with the 6-foot distancing requirement, not all outdoor venues will be able to accommodate 500 people. The 6 foot-distancing requirement takes precedence over the 500-person maximum.

Q: What should we know about performers operating outdoors in front of an audience? Choral and instrumental spacing on stage? Masked or unmasked?

A: While performers are singing or playing an instrument that requires the use of their mouth, modify or adjust seating arrangements and use visual cues to keep them at least 14 feet apart when masks are not being worn.

Performers singing or playing wind instruments with masks on and using bell covers should be a minimum of six feet apart. If performers are masked and playing an instrument that does not require the use of their mouth, such as drums, guitar, violin etc., keep them six feet apart, but 14 feet apart from those who are using their mouths to play an instrument or sing without a mask. This includes specialty music performance masks such as masks with slits, or in outdoor rehearsals where appropriate physical distancing may be challenging or inconsistent, such as marching band.

Limit the sharing of props, costumes, and wigs. Designate personal props to each individual and mark with name tags. No sharing of voice projecting mechanisms such as microphones or headpieces. Even microphones and headpieces used by only one person should be disinfected after use.

Q: Do you have guidance on things like box office operations, food service (for audience and for performers, with masks off)? Organized in pods or general seating?

A: Contactless payment is encouraged. If food or drink is being served, designated areas should be created away from the general audience where patrons are able to remove their masks for eating and drinking purposes. These areas should follow the same restrictions that are placed on the restaurant sector.

Q: What are reopening guidelines for summer 2021 youth camps?

A: They are pending and should be available shortly. Subscribe to our e-newsletter where we will place updates or check back here for updates.

Indoor Events

Q: If we are in compliance with regulations, when will indoor performances be able to resume? What questions should we be considering as we start to think about in-person events once more?

A: Indoor performances can resume following the same restrictions that are placed on venues of assembly.

Q: What are current restrictions on indoor performances or art exhibits? Number of attendees, distancing, masks? How does the size of the space influence any and all of these factors?

A: In both performance venues and art exhibits, 6-foot distancing must always be maintained between people who are not from the same household. Indoor performance venues would be classified as venues of assembly.

Currently venues of assembly are restricted to 50 percent of the venues capacity and capped at 250 indoors and 500 outdoors. With the 6-foot distancing requirement, some venues may not be able to achieve the 50 percent capacity or capped thresholds.

Indoor art exhibits are restricted to one person per 50 square feet.

Q: Are there any differences among the kinds of performances? For example, youth theatre, dance, instrumental or choral music?

A: No

Ventilated/Unventilated spaces

Q: What are HVAC requirements for summer – small spaces with old air conditioning units or are poorly ventilated?

A: Individual venues should consult with the Department of Business Regulations with the specifics of their current HVAC capabilities.

Q: Will performers need to wear masks when they are off stage?

A: Yes, performers must wear masks when they are off stage.

Social distancing

Q: what are some best practices for audiences? If patrons are seated more than six feet apart, is it okay for them to remove masks?

A: No, even if the social distancing requirement is maintained at six feet, masks cannot be removed and must be worn throughout the duration of the event.

People from the same household may sit within 6 feet of one another, but those who are not from the same household must be sat at least 6 feet apart from one another.

Q: What guidelines exist for cleaning and disinfecting?

A: All covered entities shall ensure the performance of environmental cleaning of their establishments once per day, with particular attention paid to commonly touched surfaces, such as shared workstations, elevator buttons, door handles and railings. Covered entities shall use, and have readily available to service providers, cleaning/disinfecting products designed to clean/disinfect the surfaces they are cleaning/disinfecting and shall use the products in the manner intended.

Vaccinated, Tested, Infected

Q: Do you recommend testing prior to rehearsals or performances? Will proof of vaccination replace proof of a negative COVID test result?

A: The Health Department continues to recommend testing even for rehearsals and performances. Currently, proof of vaccination does not replace a negative COVID test.

Q: Are there any guidelines about distancing if all performers have been vaccinated? or if not?

A: The Executive Order currently in place mandates that six feet be maintained from people who are not from the same household regardless of vaccination status. Even those who have been vaccinated, should stay 6 feet apart from those who are not from the same household as them.

Q: If a performer, student or staff member tests positive for COVID, will the program or production need to be shut down for a period of time?

A: Depending on who is identified as a close contact of the person who has tested positive, the program or production may need to suspend operations.

Anyone who was within six feet of the positive individual for a total of 15 minutes or more, starting two days before their symptom onset or before a positive test was received, is identified as a close contact and must follow the quarantine guidelines. Current exemptions from close contact quarantine can be found in Executive Order 21-26.

Q: Can/should a venue collect written vaccination status from performers, staff, volunteers and audience members, and is this even allowable? how does one handle a non-vaccinated person?

A: We are not proposing this at this time.

If things go bad

Q: Can you share some force majeure contract language that specifically relates to COVID and capacity limits perhaps being changed if an uptick occurs?

A: All the current mitigation measures that are put into place and all the steps we have taken in reopening the economy can be scaled back if our public health measures do so require them to be. We want people to have the freedom of being able to plan their events and performances, but these plans must always have the caveat that there are back-up plans if capacity restrictions are reduced, or more strict mitigation requirements are put into place. We encourage individuals and event organizers to remain flexible. Whatever current capacity restrictions and mitigation measures are in the Executive Order at the time of your event are the ones you should follow and adhere to.

Additional information links and forms: