Announcing 15th Annual Poetry Out Loud State Final Competition

RISCA announces the state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. On Sunday, March 8th, eleven high school students from eleven Rhode Island high schools will participate in the Poetry Out Loud state finals in the James P. Metcalf Auditorium, at the RISD Museum.

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. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. 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.

At the Rhode Island State Finals in the Metcalf Auditorium at the RISD Museum, contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefited from educational materials created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. These standards-based curriculum materials include an online anthology, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these free resources at The competition included over 2700 Rhode Island High School students and involved 44 teachers.


Portsmouth Abbey School Sarah Machado
Bishop Hendricken High School Jacob Rademacher
Barrington Christian Academy Emily Klassen
St. Patrick’s Academy Taelyce Dipina
Chariho Regional High School Laura Donnelly
Classical High School Mariama Bandabaila
Central Falls High School Brazilea Simone Schenck
Central High School Deiondre Teele
North Kingstown High School Julia Lefebvre
East Providence High School Sienna Adams
Scituate High School Charlotte McInnis

Our community partners include RISD Museum, The Providence Athenaeum and the Rhode Island Center for the Book.

Poetry Out Loud Awards

The winner of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will receive $200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library.  The state champion of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island final will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to compete in the national finals in Washington, DC, on April 27–29, 2020. The Poetry Out Loud national finals will present a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud finals at James P. Metcalf Auditorium in the Chace Center of the RISD Museum

The Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will take place on March 8, 2020 at 1 pm in the James P. Metcalf Auditorium in the Chace Center of the RISD Museum. The event is free and open to public. For more information on the state finals, visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA 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 NEA 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. For more information, visit

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit

VSA Arts is now Arts Equity

arts equity logoDear RI Colleagues and Community,

A small RI arts & education nonprofit organization will soon be ending, following a successful three decades.  During that time, it has helped artists become more visible and recognized, it has allowed young people to find their artistic voice and it has guided and encouraged state arts organizations to be more accommodating and welcoming to the needs of a significant portion of RI’s population – those with disabilities.

VSA arts Rhode Island, the state organization on arts and disability, is that nonprofit. As of January 1st, VSA changed its name to ‘Arts Equity’ and over the course of the next year will work to transition its critical arts programming to other like-minded organizations. The change in name and affiliation follows a decision last year by officials at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which runs the VSA Network, to end the affiliate structure and revoke state organizations, like VSA arts RI, from using the name as of December 31st, 2019.

Since 1986 when started by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith as Very Special Arts, we have worked diligently to create a Rhode Island where people with disabilities are welcomed in our state’s cultural community, have their talents celebrated and to ensure that we have equitable access as artists and patrons. While we are disappointed in the Kennedy Center’s decision, we remain committed to our mission of building accessible art communities that value diversity and honor differences. Over the last year, we have met with artists, donors, funders and representatives from arts, education and disability organizations in order to evaluate the organization’s current and future prospects;  the feedback validates a continuing need for our unique services.

We know that there are still students with disabilities who do not have full access to an education in the arts in their classroom. We are well aware that there are still arts organizations providing programming that is inaccessible to those who are deaf or blind, who live somewhere on the autism spectrum or who use a mobility device that is not accommodated at an entrance door, an auditorium space or a restroom.  We understand that most adult artists with disabilities continue to have major barriers to having their work seen and heard and earning even a portion of their living through the sale of their artistic endeavors. So please be assured that we are committed to finding permanent homes for the significant programming we have developed over the last 30+ years.

During the next months we will transition several of our longstanding programs and services – including our established RISD Museum and Allen Ginsberg Poetry initiatives – to compatible art and disability organizations to ensure their longevity and advancement. When we began in the 80s there were few organizations in the state providing arts programming to individuals with disabilities. Today, we are extremely happy to point to numerous arts, cultural and educational groups across the state that are our partners and now have their own programs for and provide accommodations to people with disabilities, offering greater participation and inclusion throughout our state. We are gratified that access for people with disabilities has grown to be a shared value held by many community organizations and are confident that they will continue the education and accessibility advocacy in the arts that we helped launch.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank our VSA family: Board of Directors, employees, volunteers, partners and participants who have committed their time, talents and expertise. We are proud of the work we have accomplished together and now look ahead to the next steps in all our journeys: valuing the arts as essential for all of us and making the arts available AND accessible to people of ALL abilities.

Please visit Arts Equity on social media to follow our progress.

Jeannine L. Chartier, Executive & Artistic Director

Dr. Rosemary Burns, Board of Directors President

Arts Equity, formerly VSA arts Rhode Island

RISCA Applauds Federal Support for Arts in Rhode Island!

The National Endowment for the Arts announced today that it has awarded grants totaling $150,000 to six arts organizations and agencies in Rhode Island. These federal grants support projects by some of Rhode Island’s major arts institutions.

In announcing the grants, Chairman Mary Anne Carter said “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support grants throughout the entire country that connect people through shared experiences and artistic expression. These projects provide access to the arts for people of all abilities and backgrounds in both urban centers and rural communities.”

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.” He went on to say that, “this federal support, matched by our state’s investment in the arts, provides a significant return to our economy, jobs, education and the quality of life we enjoy here in the Ocean State. 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 were recently announced by the National Endowment for the Arts:

Rhode Island
Number of Grants: 6 Total Dollar Amount:  $150,000
Alliance of Artists Communities
$45,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Artist Communities
To support an initiative focused on advancing diversity and inclusion for the artist residency field.
DownCity Design
$35,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Design
To support Creative Adaptation, a series of free design education programs focused on the redesign of existing amenities in public spaces, amenities, or programs within Providence neighborhoods.
$15,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works
To support the touring of Good Grief, a multimedia dance theater work that explores healing after trauma.
New Urban Arts
$15,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Arts Education
To support teaching artist fees for an arts mentorship program for high school students in underserved communities.
Providence Children’s Museum
$20,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Design
To support the Creativity Initiative, a program that engages local designers and artists to create immersive, hands-on design exhibits, and educational programming for youth.
Trinity Repertory Company (aka Trinity Rep)
$20,000 Providence, RI
Art Works – Theater
To support a production of Radio Golf by August Wilson and related project activities.