State Arts Council awards 74 grants to RI artists, arts organizations and nonprofits

Next cycle of arts grants to open Feb. 1 with updated offerings

Arts and culture organizations, arts education and healthcare programs, individual and teaching artists, culture workers, and related community projects benefited from $215,011 in funding announced today by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). The 74 grants, of which 34 went to individual artists, were approved by the Arts Council’s Board on Dec. 13, and will assist RI’s arts and culture community throughout the 2022 fiscal year.

The next cycle of arts and culture grants will open on Feb. 1 with a deadline of April 1. Several grant programs have been updated to align with the agency’s ongoing work to ensure that arts and culture continue to be an essential part of Rhode Island life and thrive in our communities. For more information, visit RISCA’s grants webpage.

“On behalf of the State of Rhode Island, I welcome RISCA’s continued investments in arts and culture, which are essential to the cultural, educational, health and well-being of Rhode Islanders. We are pleased that the arts once again are bringing audiences to our town and city centers, where they also help to fill our restaurants and shops. The grants remind us to celebrate our state’s creativity and how important it is to support arts and culture organizations.”

Governor McKee

“Thank you, Governor McKee and members of the Rhode Island General Assembly for your support. As Rhode Islanders return to arts and culture activities, we are thrilled that this cycle, as with the last grant cycle, is one of the most diverse and equitable. Our arts community was the first to feel the effects of COVID-19, and these investments help to put RI back on the road to pre-pandemic levels when the arts typically contributed more than $2 billion annually to the Rhode Island economy, and employed more than 18,000 people.”  

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director, RISCA 

Some examples of grantees are:

  • Teaching Artist Harrison M. Grigsby (who performs under the name Jon Hope) is on the RI Teaching Artist Roster and was a 2019 RISCA fellow in music. Grisby will pilot his Hip Hop Scholars program at Charette Charter High School, Providence.
  • Pawtucket’s Charles E. Shea High School received a grant to focus on using upcycled clothing to create garments for the school’s 2022 spring fashion show. Students will use their creativity to alter gently used clothing to make a fashion statement with a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Hathaway Elementary School, Portsmouth, will host Kevin Doyle, an Irish dancer who will serve as an artist-in residence. Doyle’s physical education and music classes for K-4 grade students will promote cross-curricular learning through movement, music, culture, collaboration and expression.
  • Sidy Maiga, Providence, is a master drummer originally from Mali, West Africa. Maiga is RISCA’s Folk Artist Fellowship recipient for 2022 and received the honor in 2012.
  • Cape Verdean American Community Development (CACD), Pawtucket, will sponsor painting and sculpture classes geared toward low-income teens. Each class, taught by a working Cape Verdean artist, will meet twice weekly for eight weeks.
  • Little Compton Community Center will present a portrait exhibit of Little Compton’s year-round residents painted during a one-year period. The project goes beyond the summer residents to portray those who make up the diverse fabric of town life.
  • Re-Emerge and Renew: Artist Residencies for Staff Wellness at Butler Hospital, Providence, provides the staff (including front-line nurses, housekeeping, maintenance and administrative staff) an opportunity to engage in arts programming. Resident artists, including poet Sussy Santana, storyteller Valerie Tutson, illustrator/cartoonist Walker Mettling, violist Ashley Frith of Community MusicWorks and Haus of Glitter dance troupe, will offer drop-in art making opportunities during staff availability.
  • This spring, the Bristol Art Museum will curate two coinciding art exhibits–guest artists’ work in the museum and artwork by Mount Hope High School students in the Rogers Free Library. The artwork confronts climate change and environmental justice.
  • The Newport String Project will provide free lessons in violin, viola and cello to 40 students at the MLK Community Center, Florence Gray Center and at the East Bay Met School.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick’s music program gives middle school youth access to affordable and accessible music opportunities unavailable anywhere else locally. Through mentoring, discovery and instruction, youth opt to participate in consequential activities to build music skills, and develop self-confidence and self-esteem.

Full list of fall 2022 grantees

The grants were distributed from the following grant programs:

  • Available to organizations, Arts Access Grants support arts and culture programs throughout the state that demonstrate excellent artistic, education and cultural value, as well as engagement with and relevance to their community. $62,725.
  • Fellowships are unrestricted awards that encourage the creative development of artists by enabling them to set aside time to pursue their work and achieve specific creative and career goals. The grants, a total of $72,000, were given out in the following disciplines:
    • Choreography
    • Crafts
    • Drawing & Printmaking
    • Film & Video
    • Fiction
    • Music Composition
    • New Genres
    • Painting
    • Photography
    • Poetry
    • Playwriting/Screenwriting
    • Three-Dimensional Art
  • Folk Arts Apprenticeships are designed to foster the sharing of traditional (folk) artistic skills between a master and an apprentice, who is already familiar with the genre. The program creates this opportunity specifically for individuals who share a common cultural heritage. $18,000.
  • Folk Arts Fellowships provide support to individual artists who demonstrate the highest level of skill and accomplishments in their craft. The folk arts are defined as those artistic practices which are community or family-based and express that community’s aesthetic heritage and tradition. $6,000.
  • Project Grants in Education and Project Grants in Education for Individuals support artists and culture organizations collaborating with schools and other educational entities. $38,286.
  • Project Grants in Healthcare offer matching grants for arts projects that connect teaching artists with healthcare settings. $18,000.

RISCA’s grants received support from the state’s General Assembly, federal funds through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in addition to matching dollars raised through contributions from businesses, individuals and earned income from ticket sales and admissions. 

For the spring grant cycle opening Feb. 1, Arts Access Grants and Investments in Arts & Culture have been updated and will be called Project Grants for Organizations and General Operating Support for Organizations, respectively. For individual artists, both the fellowship and Project Grants for Individuals programs have been replaced with four new grant programs. They are entitled: Opportunity Grants, Community Engaged Project Grants, Make Art Grants and General Operating Support for Artists.

India Association of Rhode Island puts an artistic touch on a cultural evening called Holi

Virtual celebration is on March 14 at 6 on Facebook and YouTube Live

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Holi-Flyer-1024x683.jpg

The India Association of Rhode Island will host its first Virtual Celebration of 2021 featuring cultural organizations from Rhode Island and performing artists from Massachusetts. Called Shades of Holi— An Arts Festival Celebrating Diverse New England Artists, the event embraces diverse cultures and strengthens intercultural dialogue with the artist community.

Holi (pronounced Ho- lee) is being held virtually on Sunday, March 14, at 6 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube Live.  Planned are various forms of Performing Arts such as music groups, poetry, puppetry, singing, Indian dances, storytelling, master instrumentalists and singers. In addition, the event will feature award-winning poet Sunayana Kachroo, whose film Illegal made the Oscars’ list of eligible for Best Picture. She wrote the dialogue and songs for the film.

“This celebration will help strengthen intercultural dialogue with the Massachusetts Arts community. At the same time, diverse Rhode Island organizations will be participating like Hmong Rhode Island Association, RI Black Storytellers, Korean American Association of Rhode Island and Puerto Rico Institute of Arts and Advocacy will represent different shades of RI’s cultural fabric and a true reflection of Holi, symbolic of peace and unity. This dream would not have realized without support of staunch volunteers and funding agencies RISCA and RIF,” Secretary and Grant Director Smriti Gupta said.

“Holi for IARI has always been a festival of community celebrations, colors, fun and unity. While we all can not physically come together, we have this diverse multicultural event bringing different communities’ talents and art making. We are really excited for this event and to host such an eclectic group of multi-ethnic talent,” said Vice President Dr. Parul Shah.

For more information and event related postings, click Here.

Lockdown story: COVID-19’s effect on an educational arts program

During the pandemic, Johnston’s Donna Tellier, Founder and Director of Johnston Dance and Performing Arts (J-DAPA), had to halt all programming for her students. With nearly all her efforts to keep her 14-year-old enrichment program alive meeting with frustration, concern began to grow about the survival of her after-school work in Johnston with K-12 students.

Her season usually consists of a fall and spring musical, and winter and spring recitals. The program specializes in working with young people who are interested in learning the technical aspects of putting on a show. They gain experience by learning from trained professionals. Her staff varies in age range and experience, she said. She added about her team, “We all have one thing in common – a passion to teach the arts and instill a love for performing in the hearts of all of our students.”

 DONNA-TELLIER
DONNA TELLIER

Heeding the call of economic hardship among RI’s arts community due to the pandemic, RISCA administered $1 million in Covid Relief Funds (CRF) to artists, professional arts education associations, and arts and culture organizations. The funds provided badly needed assistance to members of the arts and culture community who were suffering losses.

To fully understand the impact of COVID-19 on educational arts programs like Tellier’s J-DAPA, we asked Tellier to describe her experience.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected your work?

Donna Tellier: Unfortunately, due to COVID 19 we were not allowed to have our program in the schools. After careful consideration, I have decided to hold off on recitals until Johnston schools allow all regular indoor after school activities.

We started to hold virtual classes and rehearsals for our school musical Matilda. We were hoping to have a few weeks of free review classes, followed by an outdoor recital but ran into some liability issues. We tried to have a recital in a church hall but again, were faced with more liability issues. We even considered live streaming the recital on YouTube, but we were not able to find a location to record the dancers that was safe. Each potential plan that we came up with led us to a road block every time.

Q: Because of the pandemic, what changes and adjustments have you had to keep your program viable?

Donna Tellier: Personally, it breaks my heart that our students haven’t had the chance to wear their costumes and perform the routines that they worked so hard on, but the safety of our J-DAPA family is, and always will be our main concern. Rest assured, we will keep trying to make this happen as soon as possible.

I don’t know when after school programs will he allowed back in the high school, that is why, thanks to the RISCA CRF Grant, we have some help covering some of our losses. I was glad that our lighting technician mentioned that he heard about the grant on Facebook. Even with the incredible amount of support and donations that we have received during these very difficult times, J-DAPA is struggling to stay afloat.

I am looking for a new home for the program to continue. I am currently in the process of searching for a building to rent because after school programs are not allowed in the schools. I am hoping to find a place to hold classes and rehearsals safely and continue to offer classes at a low rate. If anyone has any connections or leads to a space that we could rent for little to no cost, please let us know.

Q: Can you tell us about you and your work in the arts?

Donna Tellier: As a young girl from a large lower income family I loved dance and theater and the confidence it gave me, especially because I was a very shy child. However, the cost of dance lessons and performance costumes were always too expensive for my parents, and therefore I was pulled from my love of the arts whenever my family couldn’t afford it.

I vowed that someday I would start a program for families like mine, for children like me. When my children started elementary school, I offered the idea of a dance and theater program to their school principal. Then, I presented our idea to the school committee, and we were approved.

In 1998, I started Thornton Dance and Performing Arts. All the money raised from performances and classes went back into the program to help make classes affordable for less fortunate children whose families could not afford dance classes.

In 2007, we changed the name to Johnston Dance and Performing Arts (J-DAPA) combining our Thornton program to create a fully inclusive program to the community and surrounding communities in Rhode Island. By late summer of 2016, J-DAPA finally became a state recognized nonprofit organization.

We offer many different types of dance including lyrical, ballet, tap, hip – hop, jazz and acro, as well as acting classes and singing lessons. Our season typically consists of a fall musical, winter recital, spring musical and spring recital.