Our updated, new grant process provides more accessibility, inclusiveness, equity, transparency

With a newly updated strategic plan that included a revamped vision, mission and values for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), the staff, Governor-appointed Arts Council leadership, and members of the arts and culture community joined together to restructure the current grant programs to better reflect us. In keeping with the call to action from the new Strategic Plan, the undertaking with the community involved creating new granting programs that were transformative, relevant, inclusive, open, transparent, and most importantly equitable and accessible.
With these lofty goals and objectives in mind, the staff convened three diverse working groups to jointly create new grant programs and application processes.

The first newly reworked grant programs, geared for arts and culture organizations and individual arts, launched in February. Later in 2022, RISCA staff will lead community working groups to reassess grants in education and healthcare. In addition the apprenticeships and fellowships programs will be updated.

New granting programs for organizations

General Operating Support for Organizations (GOS-O), which has a deadline of April 1 and opens Feb. 15, was restructured with a 36-member working group representing 22 arts and culture organizations throughout Rhode Island. Participating organizations varied in size, communities engaged, and artistic discipline/cultural tradition. They were, AS220, Arts Equity RI (formerly VSA Arts), Chorus of Westerly, City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, Community MusicWorks, Eastern Medicine Singers, Hera Gallery, India Association of Rhode Island, Island Moving Company, Kingston Chamber Music Festival, Manton Avenue Project, New Urban Arts, newportFILM, Oasis International, Providence CityArts for Youth, Rhode Island Black Storytellers, Rhode Island Latino Arts, RI Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School, Riverzedge Arts, Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, Teatro ECAS, and Trinity Repertory Company.

Some of the main features of the newly implemented GOS-O program sets explicit goals for recruitment of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) organizations and organizations based in unrepresented cities and towns. It will have a three-year grant cycle and organizations will be evaluated by budget size. Applications will now be tiered in relationship to budget size. In addition, there’s new eligibility for fiscally sponsored organizations with budgets under $50,000.

Changes have been made to RISCA’s panel diversity requirements, including explicit BIPOC representation requirements. New evaluation criteria include artistic vibrancy and relevancy, organizational capacity and ingenuity, and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and access. Organizations that represent historically marginalized communities or constituencies in their mission, programming, staff leadership and board such as BIPOC-centered organizations, organizations that are led by and engage people with disabilities are automatically considered for grant awards 1.5 times higher than their budget cohort.

Previously awards were based on historic funding without a consistent scheme and ranged from approximately $1,500 – $91,000 per year. For the new funding formula, Awards will now be between $3,000 – $40,000 yearly.

Project Grants for Organizations (PGO) is similar in character to its prior iteration, Arts Access. PGO provides grants of up to $3,000 in support of arts and culture projects that are relevant and meaningful to a Rhode Island community or communities. The new features of PGO are the application and budget documents, as well as waiving of the cash match requirement in this grant program for at least the next three fiscal years.

To develop the new application, RISCA assembled a 10 person BIPOC majority Working Group comprised of individuals working or volunteering at arts and culture organizations throughout Rhode Island. Seven of the 10 Working Group members came from organizations with annual budgets under $100,000, including: Arte Latino de Rhode Island, Arts Equity RI, Choral Collective of Newport County, Chorus of Westerly, Esperanza-Hope, Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading, Providence CityArts for Youth, RI Cape Verdean Heritage Subcommittee, The Collaborative, and the Tomaquag Museum.

In addition to the new application, the PGO Working Group advised RISCA to reframe PGO as the entry-level grant program for organizations, recognizing that for many applicants, a PGO is their first time writing a grant or might be the only grant opportunity they regularly apply to. For that reason, they suggest RISCA provide robust application support both within the application itself, as well as through newly formatted grant workshops, and the continuation of RISCA’s practice of providing one-on-one meetings and drop-in office hours. In partnership with the Individual Artist Program, other new materials including how-to videos and a comic book will be developed over the course of the next year.

New Individual Artist Grant Programs

A working group of 10 artists from around the state, facilitated by Mollie, created four new grant programs for individuals. These four grant programs replace Project Grants for Individuals and the Fellowships — those programs will no longer be offered. These grant programs are focused on supporting artists at multiple stages of their career, and lowering barriers to application. Major changes include the elimination of partial funding; a shortened and streamlined application; and a focus on artist defined success and goals. For all of these grants, an individual must be the applicant, and the projects supported must be artist instigated and organized outside of institutional support and structures.

The Community Engaged Project Grants (CEPG) program provides funding of up to $3,000 for artists or groups of artists to create arts and culture projects that are directly and actively engaged with Rhode Island residents. This grant has its first deadline on April 1, and applications are open now.

The Make Art Grant program provides grants of up to $3,000 for artists to create or continue specific artwork in any discipline. Projects must have specific goals, though completion and public showing of the art is not required. This grant has its first deadline on April 1, and applications are open now.

The Opportunity Grant program provides Rhode Island artists funding of up to $1,000 for concrete opportunities that will support professional growth. This grant will be reviewed monthly, and will open on June 15.

The General Operating Support for Artists (GOSA) program provides grants of $6,000 for each of three consecutive years (total of $18,000) for artists to work towards large, specific, self-identified goals in their art practice. This grant has its first deadline on July 1, and applications will open May 1.

Peer Support calls for arts and culture organizations return in 2022!

RISCA’s peer support calls for arts and culture organizations are back!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Todd-T.pngWe will be hosting 1-3 calls a month, typically on Fridays from noon-1 p.m. See call schedule and descriptions below – for security reasons, you will need to RSVP via the associated Eventbrite page for each call. This page will be updated regularly with the schedule of upcoming calls.

Gently facilitated by RISCA staff, colleagues working at RI arts and culture organizations, and special guests, these calls are spaces for people working at arts and culture organizations to listen, talk, share resources, brainstorm ideas, and co-create solutions. Most calls will have a topic focus. There will be a few that will be full-on workshops (stay tuned on those).
 
In addition to being a form of peer support, these calls will inform staff members as to how they can best support your arts and culture organization during these difficult and uncertain time.

Call Schedule

Friday, Jan. 21, noon – 1 p.m. It Has Been A While – How Are You?  With Todd Trebour, RISCA’s Organizations Program Director. This first call will be freeform, but will help inform the content and thematic tracks for future calls. Let us know where you and your organization are at, what you are learning, what you might be struggling with, and the ways you think peer support calls could be focused in the future to help you as the pandemic continues to evolve. RSVP here to receive link.

Friday, February 25, noon-1 p.m. A Dialogue on Disaster Response. With Janet Newcomb, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness and Emergency Response (NCAPER), and Tom Clareson, Project Director for Performing Arts Readiness. The past two years have shown us disaster situations that few were prepared for – the pandemic, its economic fallout, and concerns about racial, economic, and health inequity. How can your arts and culture organization survive – or possibly even thrive – amidst this perfect storm of concerns?

Join our speakers and facilitators Janet and Tom for a dialogue on disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Our speakers will ask the group a few questions, but mainly take time to answer your concerns about preparing for and recovering from all types of hazards. And, they will briefly cover critical resources that PAR, NCAPER, and other arts service organizations can provide to your organization. RSVP here to receive link.

Friday, March 4, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. What Should We Measure and Why? A Conversation with the Cultural Community. With Todd Trebour, RISCA’s Organizations Program Director, and Julia Renaud, Associate Director of Grants and Strategic Initiatives at the RI Council for the Humanities. The Humanities Council and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts collect information and data in grant applications and grant reports. While some information we collect is required by the federal government, some is not. Much of this data is critical in case-making and advocacy for the arts, humanities, and cultural communities and as both Council’s review data collection practices, we want to hear from you.

In this 1-hour call, we will review what information our Councils collect, and why. Based on that, we want to know what information you think could be helpful to collect for the cultural sector and why. The Humanities Council will also share their recent work connecting the outcomes of cultural activities to the state’s civic health—outcomes that organizations can measure in their own work. RSVP here to receive link.

Friday, March 25, 12 – 1 p.m. On the Horizon in Arts in Education. With Maggie Anderson, RISCA’s Arts in Education Director. Maggie will  report out on RISCA’s upcoming programs in partnership with RIDE and ways that organizations can continue to strengthen their school based work. Topics to include a preview of a new data dashboard, preview of arts coordinator position, secondary regulations and how to participate in public comment, final spend downs of ESSER funds, and RISCA’s Project Grants in Education overhaul. RSVP here to receive link.

Wednesday, April 6, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Initiating Equity Work at Small and Volunteer-Led Organizations. With Dr. Brea Heidelberg, ISO Arts Consulting. Presented in partnership with Arts Equity.
Wednesday, April 13, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.  Initiating Equity Work Follow-up Q + A Session. With Dr. Brea Heidelberg, ISO Arts Consulting. Presented in partnership with Arts Equity.

Kicking off the Equity and Access Workshop Series occurring in our Peer Support Call slots, these workshops will build capacity among small, midsize, and volunteer-led arts and culture organizations to create and sustain diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments for the people working or volunteering at these organizations, as well as their audiences. Specific consideration will be given to the unique organizational context of volunteer-led and run organizations, with guidance on engaging in equity work that is sensitive to the resource limitations they often face. 

While these workshops are free and open to all, registration priority will be given to arts and culture organizations & culturally specific organizations that are current or past RISCA grant recipients. Interested in attending or receiving a recording? Fill out the RISCA Equity and Access Workshops Interest Form. You will be contacted with further information on how to register. All sessions will have closed captioning available, but please let us know two weeks prior to a workshop if you need additional accommodations either via the Interest Form, or by contacting Todd Trebour at todd.trebour@arts.ri.gov. You can read more about the Equity and Access Workshop Series here.

Wednesday, April 27, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Getting Started: Understanding Dis/ability and Improving Accessibility. Organized by Jeannine Chartier, Arts Equity. Following ISO Arts Consulting’s Equity workshops, we will provide a two-part workshop series to gain a deeper understanding of Dis/ability & Neurodiversity that will help small, midsize, and volunteer-led arts and culture organizations identify barriers and discover solutions to improve the accessibility of their organization and programs. Based on feedback from RI’s arts & cultural community, this workshop is designed to provide guidance about interacting, communicating with and including people with dis/abilities and differences to change things for the better and become part of the equity solution.

The first session, Getting Started: Understanding Dis/ability and Improving Accessibility, will introduce, explore and build upon your understanding of dis/ability that will provide ideas, approaches and concrete examples to improve accessibility throughout your organization and programs.

While these workshops are free and open to all, registration priority will be given to arts and culture organizations & culturally specific organizations that are current or past RISCA grant recipients. Interested in attending or receiving a recording? Fill out the RISCA Equity and Access Workshops Interest Form. You will be contacted with further information on how to register. All sessions will have closed captioning available, but please let us know two weeks prior to a workshop if you need additional accommodations either via the Interest Form, or by contacting Todd Trebour at todd.trebour@arts.ri.gov. You can read more about the Equity and Access Workshop Series here.

-Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Understanding Neurodiversity and Enhancing Inclusion. Organized by Jeannine Chartier, Arts Equity. The second session, Understanding Neurodiversity and Enhancing Inclusion, will provide a deeper dive into neurodiversity, illustrate examples of access in action, and emphasize an array of resources available to enhance disability inclusion actions.

While these workshops are free and open to all, registration priority will be given to arts and culture organizations & culturally specific organizations that are current or past RISCA grant recipients. Interested in attending or receiving a recording? Fill out the RISCA Equity and Access Workshops Interest Form. You will be contacted with further information on how to register. All sessions will have closed captioning available, but please let us know two weeks prior to a workshop if you need additional accommodations either via the Interest Form, or by contacting Todd Trebour at todd.trebour@arts.ri.gov. You can read more about the Equity and Access Workshop Series here.

Friday, May 20, 12 – 1 p.m.  How Can the Arts and Culture Sector Collaborate to Address Climate Change? With Mollie Flanagan, Individual Artists Program Director at RISCA, and Jonesy Mann, Operations Director at AS220. What are your biggest concerns about climate change in RI? What can we do about it? Who else should we be working with – both in and outside the arts sector? Join Mollie and Jonesy Mann as they facilitate a conversation around these (huge) questions. Our discussion is the first step to working together on some cross-sector mitigation projects, in partnership with NCAPER and  the AIR Institute through their Crisis Analysis and Mitigation pilot program.

State awards $3.46 million in capital grants to 42 arts, culture, heritage, public historic sites

Governor Dan McKee sends congratulations to the awardees.

Grants Will Fund 42 Renovation, Repair and Program Expansion Projects

Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) jointly announced today the recipients of 24 State Cultural Facilities Grants and 18 State Preservation Grants. Together the projects represent some $2.28 million from RISCA and more than $1.18 million from RIHPHC for capital preservation work at public and nonprofit arts and performance facilities, museums, cultural arts centers and historic sites throughout the state.

“Rhode Island is rich in history, arts, and culture, which play a significant role in our economy in every city and town,” said Governor McKee. “Through this funding, our state will continue to be a leader nationally in historic preservation, and arts and culture. On behalf of the State of Rhode Island, our congratulations to these organizations, and thank you to RISCA and RIHPHC for their work to improve the quality of life in our State.”

“Rhode Island is recognized nationally as a leader in historic preservation and the arts,” said Jeffrey Emidy, Interim Executive Director of the RIHPHC. “These state grants are investments that build on our strengths.”

“Rhode Islanders recognized the significance of these investments in their community and their importance to our state’s economy,” said Faye Zuckerman, RISCA’s Director of Communication. “Our museums, cultural arts centers and performance spaces, which are open to the public, will receive the capital improvements they badly need.”

In March 2021, R.I. voters passed the Cultural Arts and State Preservation Grants Programs ballot measure, which authorized the state to allocate $7 million in funding for arts, culture and historic facilities. Of the $7 million, $2 million were appropriated to RISCA for competitive grants while $1 million went to RIHPHC to fund grants for capital improvements to key historic facilities. Carryover funds from the 2014 $30 million ballot measure totaling $460,930 were included in the grants being distributed. Both programs require grantees to secure matching funds for their projects. 

Some examples of the 42 projects include:

  • Teatro ECAS, Rhode Island’s only Spanish-language theatre, will renovate a new performance space in the Valley Arts District of Providence. $204,420.
  • The City of Central Falls will complete critical structural repairs to Cogswell Tower, built in 1904, located in historic Jenks Park. $150,000.
  • Historic New England will replace the roof and gutter system of the circa 1796 barn at Watson Farm in Jamestown. The barn is a rare 18th century structure still in use for farm activities, and also provides space for programming and farm tours. $69,000.
  • The East Providence Historical Society will install storm windows and complete exterior repairs at the John Hunt House Museum and Education Center in Rumford. Built in 1751, the house contains local history exhibits, an education center, library and meeting space. $26,865.
  • Exeter-based Tomaquag Museum will build a new campus in a partnership with the University of Rhode Island. The new facility will increase the Museum’s capacity and visibility. $250,000.
  • The Artists’ Exchange, located in Cranston, will renovate its lower-level multipurpose room. This project will ensure code and safety compliance while expanding programming space. $40,000.

List of Grantees

Organization NameLocation AwardGrant Name
Herreshoff Marine MuseumBristol$112,000State Preservation Grant
Linden PlaceBristol$28,200State Preservation Grant
City of Central FallsCentral Falls$150,000State Preservation Grant
Artists’ ExchangeCranston$40,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
Historic Metcalf-Franklin Farm Preservation AssociationCumberland$75,000State Preservation Grant
Cape Verdean MuseumEast Providence$100,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
East Providence Historical SocietyEast Providence$26,865State Preservation Grant
Tomaquag Indian Memorial MuseumExeter$250,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
Foster Preservation SocietyFoster$11,900State Preservation Grant
Historic New EnglandJamestown$69,000State Preservation Grant
South County Art AssociationKingston$128,535State Cultural Facilities Grant
Newport Art Museum and Art AssociationNewport$18,700State Cultural Facilities Grant
Island Moving Co.Newport$250,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
Newport Performing Arts CenterNewport$50,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
La Farge Restoration FundNewport$94,109State Cultural Facilities Grant
La Farge Restoration FundNewport$150,000State Preservation Grant
Fort Adams TrustNewport$122,500State Preservation Grant
Preservation Society of Newport CountyNewport$74,250State Preservation Grant
Newport Restoration FoundationNewport$30,000State Preservation Grant
Pawtucket Public LibraryPawtucket$58,100State Preservation Grant
Teatro ECASProvidence$204,429State Cultural Facilities Grant
Providence Performing Arts CenterProvidence$100,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
Rhode Island School of Design MuseumProvidence$45,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
Festival Ballet ProvidenceProvidence$13,820State Cultural Facilities Grant
DownCity DesignProvidence$100,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
The Steel YardProvidence$36,400State Preservation Grant
The Steel YardProvidence$53,178State Cultural Facilities Grant
Dirt Palace Public ProjectsProvidence$49,880State Cultural Facilities Grant
Community MusicWorksProvidence$84,275State Cultural Facilities Grant
The PlayersProvidence$90,500State Cultural Facilities Grant
AS220Providence$61,976State Cultural Facilities Grant
Wilbury Theatre GroupProvidence$56,079State Cultural Facilities Grant
Oasis InternationalProvidence$150,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
Museum of Natural History and PlanetariumProvidence$88,500State Preservation Grant
Rhode Island Historical SocietyProvidence$48,000State Preservation Grant
Scituate Historical SocietyScituate$9,900State Preservation Grant
South County History CenterSouth Kingstown$42,075State Preservation Grant
Sandra Feinstein-Gamm TheatreWarwick$128,327State Cultural Facilities Grant
Clouds Hill Victorian House MuseumWarwick$50,000State Preservation Grant
Stadium Theatre FoundationWoonsocket$73,133State Cultural Facilities Grant
Beacon Charter Schools Corp.Woonsocket$95,000State Cultural Facilities Grant
RiverzEdge Arts ProjectWoonsocket$41,300State Cultural Facilities Grant
TOTAL $3,460,931 

Visit www.preservation.ri.gov to learn more about the awards to Preservation Grantees.

2021 State Facilities Grant Program listing