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.