State Arts Council announces longtime Executive Director to retire at year’s end

Randall Rosenbaum served as the state’s arts advocate for nearly 3 decades

After 27 years of service as the leader of the RI State Council on the Arts (RISCA), Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum announced his retirement. He will serve until the end of 2021.

Rosenbaum has led the State’s Arts Council under five governors and is widely credited with building support for an arts sector that now contributes over $2 billion annually to the Rhode Island economy.


In thanking Rosenbaum for his service, Governor Dan McKee said: “Randy is a true professional, a passionate advocate for artists and organizations, and a determined champion for Rhode Island’s arts and culture sector. We wish him the best as he embarks on his next adventure. On behalf of the State of Rhode Island, I thank him for his lengthy service, especially during the pandemic, when Randy’s devotion and dedication to this important economic sector ensured that the hard-hit arts and cultural organizations and workers had the resources they needed to stay afloat.”

During his tenure, RISCA’s funding has increased by more than 800 percent. He expanded programs for individual artists, nonprofit arts organizations, schools and teaching artists and created the Cultural Facilities Grant program that received $30 million in bond support. He forged strong partnerships with federal, state and private entities, including the RI Department of Environmental Management, Department of Education, the State Department of Health and the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism. Nearly 70 works of public art were commissioned for state facilities during his time at RISCA.

In addition, he established public galleries in the state’s main Administration building, and TF Green International and Block Island airports, and programs honoring the cultural diversity of our state, all of which continue to this day. RISCA took charge of commissioning official portraits for all governors since Lincoln Almond, and acquired work by contemporary Rhode Island artists for display in state offices.

In 2004, Rosenbaum brought the Rhode Island Film and Television Office into the Arts Council and hired Steven Feinberg as its executive director. The Film Office has gone on to attract many world-class feature films and television productions to the Ocean State, adding to the excitement of life in Rhode Island, and contributing jobs and resources to communities throughout our state.

Following the passage of its most recent Strategic Plan, RISCA, under Rosenbaum’s leadership, has established values-based programming. The Plan ensures equity and inclusion for the arts and culture community through its funding and professional development programs.

Rosenbaum, reflecting on close to three decades as director of the State Arts Council, said that his proudest moments came when he was able to experience firsthand the remarkable talent of the Rhode Island arts community. “We are blessed with some of the greatest artistic talent in the world here in Rhode Island,” Rosenbaum said.  “Traditional artists, master weavers, painters, theater artists, writers, photographers, musicians, dancers, and so on — Rhode Island has it all.  It has been an honor to support their work over these past 27 years.”

Rosenbaum came to Rhode Island in 1995 after 10 years as Deputy Director of Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts. Before that he managed orchestras in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Cleveland, Ohio.

The Arts Council board will be announcing the search for a new executive director shortly.

RI Arts and Humanities Councils award nearly $1 million in grants with federal funds to 121 culture, humanities, arts nonprofits

Funding expands assistance reach to state’s more vulnerable and hardest-hit organizations

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is RI-CHARG-MAP-1.jpgSome 121 RI culture, humanities and arts nonprofits benefit from the RI Culture, Humanities and Arts Recovery Grant (RI CHARG) program, a historic collaborative partnership between the State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (Humanities Council). The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded $968,000 in assistance to Rhode Island from their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and is not part of the $1.1 billion in ARPA funding awarded to the state.

These federally appropriated cultural assistance funds administered by RISCA and the Humanities Council provide general operating support grants of $8,000 each to 121 culture, humanities, and arts nonprofits:

  • 95% are small to midsize and/or Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) centered organizations;
  • 65% are organizations based outside the city of Providence; and
  • More than 25% are first-time grantees.

The Councils designed the RI CHARG program to help RI’s culture, humanities, and arts nonprofits prevent, prepare, respond, and recover from hardships suffered due to the pandemic. In keeping with federal agencies’ priority on equity, inclusion, and access efforts and to support small and  mid size organizations, funding priorities were given to BIPOC centered organizations and nonprofits with annual budgets under $500,000.

Click here for a list of grantees. You can also find the listing at the Humanities Council.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Final-CHARG-logo-v.2-Email-Header--1024x341.jpg

“These federal funds given to our state through the NEA’s and NEH’s ARPA allotments acknowledge the important economic impact culture, humanities, and arts have on Rhode Island,” Governor McKee said. “On behalf of Rhode Island, I thank and applaud our State Council on the Arts and RI’s Humanities Council for their partnership and swift work in getting this badly needed recovery assistance to their respective communities.”

Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director of the Humanities Council noted: “This historic collaboration between the Humanities Council and RISCA has enabled our two organizations to streamline the application process for cultural organizations across the state, ensuring that the combined $968,000 in relief funds from the NEH and NEA reaches those in the prioritized areas. This unique approach has gained national attention and we’re proud to know that culture, humanities, and arts nonprofits across the state will benefit from this effort. As communities emerge from the pandemic, the humanities and arts are essential to rebuilding our social fabric.”

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of RISCA, added: “I am delighted that we were able to combine funding from the NEA and NEH to directly support these cultural nonprofits. We’re proud that so many of these grantees are small and medium sized organizations; represent culturally diverse communities; or are new to us. These grants will have a significant impact on communities throughout our state who have suffered greatly because of the pandemic.”

Public Art Works has a call for submission

Call for Art: Hopehealth Hospice and Palliative Care Rhode Island art gallery exhibition (HHHPC) (rotating)

Application deadline: Jan. 7, 2022, with no application fee and $250 honorarium. Students are ineligible.

Hopehealth Hospice & Palliative Care provides compassionate, professional, state-of-the-art physical, emotional and spiritual care for all people facing life-threatening illness at any stage of life and in any setting they choose.

The Art Selection Committee is seeking 2D visual artists (no sculpture or wall reliefs) for solo exhibitions on the first floor designated, “The Gallery” of the hopehealth Hospice & Palliative Care (HHHPC) facility located at 1085 North Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island. The Gallery is in an area of high foot traffic and viewed by everyone who visits HHHPC. Artwork will be installed by the staff of HHHPC and a representative of Public Art Works.

Click here to learn more.