State Arts Council awards $878,942 in arts grants to 156 organizations, artists, healthcare and educators

Arts and culture organizations, arts education programs, teaching artists in healthcare and education, individual artists, culture workers, and other related community projects benefited from $878,942 in funding announced today by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). The 156 grants of which 52 went to individual artists were approved by the Arts Council’s Board in June, and the funding will assist the arts and cultural community throughout the 2022 fiscal year.

Click here for a listing of grantees.

RISCA’s grants received support from the state’s General Assembly, federal funds through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and most grants are matched through contributions from businesses, individuals and earned income from ticket sales and admissions. Fiscal Year 2022 Cycle 2 arts and culture grant applications will open on Aug. 1, with a deadline of Oct. 1. Visit to learn more.

“This essential support to artists, arts educators and nonprofits is timely, and we certainly welcome it as the hard-hit arts and culture sector recovers throughout the state,” Governor McKee said. “As we work toward returning this key economic driver to pre-pandemic levels safer, better and stronger, these grants remind us to celebrate the state’s creativity and the sector’s importance to the cultural, educational, health and well-being of Rhode Islanders.”

In announcing the first grants for FY2022, RISCA’s Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum thanked Governor McKee and members of the Rhode Island General Assembly for their support. “As we recover from these difficult times, it is critically important to support our arts and culture community, which was one of the first affected by the pandemic and one of the last to recover,” Rosenbaum added. “This cycle is the most diverse and equitable that we have seen to date, and the grants include an artist or arts and culture organizations in nearly every city and town.”

Some examples of projects supported in the current round of RISCA grants include:

  • Artist Susan Young, Bristol: Dance Me In provides adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to ballroom dance instruction. The program delivers the “partner dancing” experience, developing trusting relationships and expanding individual wellness of body and mind.
  • Connecting for Children and Families, Woonsocket: Art & Social Emotional Learning After-School Program at Woonsocket High School City, will be taught by RISCA Roster artists, and other artists and instructors to support high school students grappling with social-emotional needs. Such needs have intensified due to the pandemic, and the programming will align with school-day learning in art, English language arts and social studies.
  • Rhode Island Slave History Medallions, Newport: This is a multi-cultural program at Patriot’s Park, Portsmouth, to explore the history and arts of African and Indigenous patriots commemorated there.
  • Artist Abdul Adio (aka Spocka Summa), Providence: The Anti- Robot Club is a digital/physical pop- up curated by Spocka Summa featuring a variety of work from 8-10 emerging artists. This pop-up will take place in public at The Steel Yard, 27 Sims Ave. Providence, every Saturday and Sunday for the entire month of September.
  • Providence Clemente Veteran’s Initiative: Lucas Pralle, USMC Veteran and co-founder of Endless Beautiful, will lead RI Veterans through creative and expressive art making during the 2021-2022 academic year. Through four activities, Lucas will teach Veterans how to explore complex experiences through art.
  • Federal Hill House Association, Providence: Voces Mayores/Elder Voices is a three-month bilingual workshop series engaging Providence-area older adults in artmaking, storytelling and publishing. The project explores how access to arts (the new roles, creative means and platform for expression it provides) nurtures wellbeing, empowerment and visibility for this marginalized community.
  • Raising Hope, Providence: Afro-Caribbean drumming will engage a small group of youth, ages 8 to 18 years old, in low income communities to develop skills for making music through folk drumming. The program is facilitated by trained master artists during after school hours in a location in the community that assures safety for participants in the time of COVID-19.
  • Artist Janet “Becky” Bass, Riverside: Through Project Misik: Honoring African & Indigenous Ancestors’ Legacies, members of Zili Misik, an eight-member, all female, multi-racial and multi-ethnic band, will engage audiences in an interactive workshop and performance with New World Soul – music that reconnects roots music of the African diaspora – to pour a musical libation for African and Indigenous ancestors, in Newport.
  • The Womxn Project Education Fund, Wakefield: Illuminating the Legacy of Slavery in Rhode Island: will project imagery and stage dramatic readings about the history and legacy of slavery in Rhode Island at sites where slavery and the struggle for abolition took place. These visually and emotionally impactful art interventions will illuminate the role of Rhode Island in the slave trade and help us understand racism and equity today.
  • The Collaborative, Warren: This series of arts classes for youth grades K-12 in four different disciplines, public art, printmaking, experimental art and photography, is geared toward preparing young people for careers in the arts.
  • Seven Hills Rhode Island, Woonsocket: The health and human services organization supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities, will partner with Trinity Repertory Theatre Company and other local artists to provide a unique performing and visual arts program for children and adults supported through its programs.

RISCA’s FY2022 Cycle 1 grants fall into the following categories:

  •  Available to arts and culture organizations, the 43 Arts Access Grants support programs throughout the state that demonstrate excellent artistic, education and cultural value, as well as engagement with and relevance to their community. $92,295.
  • Investments in Arts and Culture provides annual operating support to arts and culture organizations across Rhode Island that make important contributions to the vitality of our communities, the economy of our state, the enrichment of all Rhode Islanders, and our quality of life. Fifty-one grants totaling $601,282 were given out for FY 2022 Cycle 1.
  • Six Project Grants for Education and two Grants in Education for Individuals provide support to artists and culture organizations collaborating with schools and other educational entities. The grants are designed to increase access to high quality curriculum-based arts learning; foster professional development of artists and educators; engage the participation of families and other community members in arts learning for children and youth; and ensure youths demonstrate proficiency in one or more art forms at or before graduation from high school. $35,279.
  • The 50 Project Grants for Individuals provided $500-$3,000 grants to artist instigated and organized arts projects with a strong public component. $124,246.
  • Project Grants in Healthcare offer matching grants for arts projects that connect teaching artists with healthcare settings such as hospitals, hospice and community health agencies. Teaching artists partner with one or more licensed healthcare staff to implement a project. Four grants totaling $25,840 were given out during this cycle.

Learn more about RISCA Grants

Kyra Sedgwick to film ‘Space Oddity’ In Rhode Island

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is FILM-TV-LOGO.jpgThe Rhode Island Film & TV Office announced today that prime-time Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) is directing Rebecca Banner’s acclaimed 2016 Black List screenplay Space Oddity in the Ocean State. The independent production stars Kyle Allen (West Side Story), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men franchise), and Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale). This is the second feature film for director Sedgwick after Story of a Girl for which she received a Director’s Guild of America nomination. Principal photography commences this week in the historic towns of Wickford and North Kingstown.

Space Oddity tells the tale of Alex (Allen) who, after giving up on Earth and deciding to leave it all behind for a one-way mission to Mars, develops an unexpected romance with Daisy (Shipp), the enigmatic town newcomer, who forces him to choose between an uncertain journey to the stars and an even more uncertain journey of the heart.

This is the first feature Sedgwick and Valerie Stadler will be producing under their banner Big Swing Productions.

Director Kyra Sedgwick stated, “As soon as I read Space Oddity, I knew this was a film I had to direct. This family is so beautifully flawed, so perfectly human. The humor and the heart jumped off the page. We started Big Swing to tell just this kind of story – one that centers on hope but never shies away from the struggle that makes us all part of this fragile experiment on Earth. And there is no better place to film this story than in the beautiful state of Rhode Island. Shooting Space Oddity in Rhode Island is a breath of fresh air. Everyone from the Rhode Island Film office to the town of Wickford has welcomed us with open arms. We have a local crew that can’t be beat and the locations are magical. We couldn’t be more delighted for the opportunity to make our film here!”

Valerie Stadler will produce with Jack Greenbaum and Richard Arlook for the The Arlook Group and Mickey Schiff for Unique Features. Executive Producers are Bob Shaye, Ibrahim AlHusseini, JL Pomeroy, Brent Emery, Susan Cartonis, Suzanne Farwell and Anne Clements.

Governor Daniel J. McKee said, “It’s great to see a new movie being made in Rhode Island – especially one that showcases our beautiful state. With our unique landscape and talented local artists, Rhode Island is an ideal location for filmmakers. Every time a production shoots here we see a positive impact on our local businesses. This is the type of energy that keeps moving our economy forward.”

Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office, remarked “We are excited to welcome Kyra, Valerie and their talented team of professionals to make Space Oddity. Rhode Island is fortunate because we have superb partners in both the public and private sectors, and we enjoy working together to build a positive environment for the creative economy to shine. We are particularly grateful to Big Swing Productions for providing good paying jobs for many local artists and hard-working technicians from across Rhode Island. As collaboration is key to the art of cinema, we look forward to helping Kyra, Valerie and the Space Oddity team produce movie magic here in the Ocean State!”

Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-District 23, Warwick) commented “We welcome Kyra Sedgwick and her acclaimed cast to Rhode Island. Our historical towns are unique treasures and we are happy that the production team of Space Oddity has discovered them with the help of the Rhode Island Film & TV Office. The nostalgic beauty of Wickford and North Kingstown will be supporting characters alongside the talented actors and actresses who will be propelling this special production. I eagerly await the positive recognition and tourism that this production will bring to our state.”

Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-District 4, North Providence, Providence) said “Rhode Island has always been a unique and beautiful place to live and work. It is also ideally suited to the needs of the film and television industry. Our small, compact size makes us accessible both in terms of coordinating with state and local agencies and businesses, and in working at locations ranging from city streets and historic homes and mansions to the shore and peaceful woodlands. We warmly welcome Space Oddity to Rhode Island and greatly anticipate seeing our state grace the screen once again.”

Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum said, “We are immensely proud that this important production is coming to Rhode Island, thanks to the hard work of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office. The towns of Wickford and North Kingstown offer idyllic landscapes, which will be captured on film and shared to audiences across the globe. This is another example where we can witness the expansion of American art as an economic and cultural force.”

Kyra Sedgwick starred and executive produced the TNT drama series The Closer, for which she received five Lead Actress Drama series Emmy nominations, winning in 2010. She’s an eight-time Golden Globe nominee, and won Best Actress in a TV series Drama for The Closer in 2007. She has also directed episodes of Ray Donovan, Grace and Frankie, City on a Hill, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Kyle Allen recently starred in Amazon’s The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, and will next be seen in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story for Amblin/20th Century Studios and Paramount’s The In Between. Other recent credits include FX’s American Horror Story: Apocalypse Now and Hulu’s The Path.

Alexandra Shipp stars as the female lead in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s upcoming Netflix movie Tick Tick Boom, opposite Andrew Garfield. Shipp is best known for her role as the iconic mohawked super heroine Storm in Twentieth Century Fox’s X-Men franchise and her role in the critically acclaimed film Love, Simon. Other recent feature credits include Warner Bros.’ Shaft opposite Samuel L. Jackson, CBS Films’ Jexi opposite Adam Devine, and All the Bright Places alongside Elle Fanning.

In Space Oddity, Madeline Brewer will play Liz, Alex’s sister, who has reluctantly returned to the farm where she grew up. Brewer has played Janine Lindo on 33 episodes of Hulu/MGM’s multi-Emmy winning The Handmaid’s Tale, in addition to Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black as Tricia Miller. She also starred in the STX Jennifer Lopez-Constance Wu feature crime movie Hustlers. Brewer is a three-time Screen Actor’s Guild nominee in the Drama TV series ensemble category for Handmaid’s Tale.

The Rhode Island Film & TV Office is a government agency under the umbrella of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA)


Governor nominated, RI Senate confirms 2 members to the state’s Arts Council

Governor Dan McKee announced that Mary-Kim Arnold, a Pawtucket-based poet, writer and artist, and Mohamad Farzan, Newport, a founding principal of NewPort Architecture, have been confirmed by the RI Senate to RI Arts Council’s 13-member board. Artist Gretchen Dow Simpson and Dr. Joseph Dowling will be stepping down from their role on the Council.

“On behalf of Rhode Island, I thank Gretchen and Joe for their tenure on the Council and longtime commitment to this important economic sector for Rhode Island. I welcome Mary-Kim and Mohamad, and I am looking forward to their service to the people of our state,” Governor McKee said. “Our Arts Council will be integral in getting the arts and cultural community back to full capacity. The commitment of these individuals on our volunteer Arts Council is even more important today than ever as Rhode Island comes back from the pandemic stronger and better.”

“We are pleased to welcome Mary-Kim and Mohamad to the RISCA board. Their leadership will help us support and serve an arts and culture community that contributes significantly to life in the Ocean State,” said RISCA’s Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum. “Both Mary-Kim and Mohamad have been valued members of the RI cultural community, and their involvement on the RISCA board will help us work broadly and inclusively with artists, arts educators and arts organizations as we emerge from this difficult period.”

Libby Slader, RISCA Chair, said: “The Council is grateful to the Governor for these nominations and to the RI Senate for confirming them. I want to reiterate my thanks to Joe and Gretchen for their service to the state’s Arts Council,” said Libby Slader, RISCA’s Chairperson. “The new Council members have a wealth of expertise and creativity, which allows us to continue our commitment to supporting and encouraging the expansion of the state’s cultural resources, as well as promoting and protecting freedom of artistic expression.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Arnold-MK-2021-769x1024.jpgMary-Kim Arnold is a poet, writer, and artist. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press, 2020) and Litany for the Long Moment, an experimental memoir about her failed search for her Korean birth mother.  (Essay Press, 2018). She has been honored by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, and her work has been featured in NPR’s Code Switch. Other writings have appeared in Hyperallergic, Conjunctions, The Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Tupelo Quarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.

Ms. Arnold graduated with Honors from Brown University with a B.A. in English and American Literature. She went on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown in fiction. After more than a decade working in nonprofit administration, notably as the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and later, Director of Evaluation and Learning at the Rhode Island Foundation, she attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts and graduated with an MFA in Poetry. She now teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown and in The Newport MFA, a low-residency graduate program at Salve Regina University.

She is the recipient of a 2020 Howard Foundation Fellowship, the 2018 MacColl Johnson Fellowship, and the 2017 Fellowship in Fiction from RISCA. She serves as Senior Editor for Collaborative & Cross-Disciplinary Texts at Tupelo Quarterly.

Adopted from Korea and raised in New York, Ms. Arnold lives in Pawtucket with her husband and children.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is M-Farzan-headshot.jpgMohamad Farzan, one of NewPort Architecture’s founding principals, has been practicing architecture in Rhode Island for over 25 years. Some of his major projects are: The Opera House/ Newport Performing Arts Center (2004- ongoing), The Newport Congregational Church (2010-ongoing), the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, Newport (2013), published in the Spring 2016 book by RISD Adaptive Reuse Studio, The Newport Art Museum (2011), the Newport Historical Society (2015), the Hope Club, Providence (2004), Carnegie Abbey Golf House, Portsmouth (2000), Vanderbilt Hall hotel and spa, Newport (1998 and 2007), and Salve Regina University’s Fairholme carriage house dormitory, Newport (2000), along with many residential projects throughout New England.

Mr. Farzan received his architectural training at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and also holds an MArch from Tehran University. After practicing in London for several years, he moved to the United States, where he worked for Cubelis & Associates, William Starck Architects and Newport Collaborative Architects before helping to found NewPort Architecture. He has been honored with several awards, including the Providence Business News’s Business Excellence Award, Newport Historical Society Preservation Award, and two People’s Choice Awards. In addition, Mr. Farzan has been a visiting critic at the architecture schools at the Rhode Island School of Design and Roger Williams University.

He currently serves on the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. Mr. Farzan contributes much of his time to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), having recently completed a term as Regional Director for New England, and was honored as a Richard Upjohn Fellow in 2013. In 2007, he published the AIA Guide to Newport. When time permits, he enjoys sailing, and can be found racing J-22’s on Narragansett Bay.