State Arts Council awards grants to arts and culture programs, schools and folk artists

RI Arts Council grantees are diverse and throughout the state

Arts and culture organizations, arts education programs, teaching artists in healthcare, folk artists and related community projects to benefit from $750,192 in grants distributed by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). These 120 grants, approved by the Arts Council’s Board in December, will support arts and cultural activities throughout the state during this fiscal year.

To receive this year’s round of annual funding, distributed by RISCA, the grantees submitted requests for support in April 2020. (Funding decisions were delayed pending the passage of the State budget.) These grants depend on support from the Rhode Island General Assembly and federally funded National Endowment for the Arts, in addition to matching dollars raised through contributions from businesses, individuals and earned income from ticket sales and admissions.

 “During these difficult times, it is critically important to support our arts and culture sector. Typically, the arts contribute over $2 billion annually to the Rhode Island economy, and employ more than 17,500 people. These state investments will keep the arts sector working on behalf of all Rhode Islanders, for the cultural, educational and economic benefit of the entire state.”

–Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director, RISCA

The grants fall into the following categories:

  • Folk arts are defined as those artistic practices, which are community or family based and express that community’s aesthetic heritage and tradition. 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. Folk Arts Fellowships provide support to individual artists who demonstrate the highest level of skill and accomplishments in their craft.
  • 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.
  • Project Grants for Education provide support to artists and cultural organizations collaborating with schools and other educational entities. The grants are designed to increase access to high quality curriculum-based arts learning; foster professional development of artists and educators; engage the participation of families and other community members in arts learning for children and youth; and ensure youths demonstrate proficiency in one or more art forms at or before graduation from high school.
  • Project Grants in Healthcare offer matching grants for arts projects that connect teaching artists with healthcare settings such as hospitals, hospice and community health agencies. Teaching artists partner with one or more licensed healthcare staff to implement a project.
Joel Rosario Tapia

Upon learning that he will be receiving a fellowship from the State Arts Council, Providence’s Joel Rosario Tapia, Chief Tureygua Taino Cay M.Sc. of The Cibuco Bayamon Taino Tribe and Nation, said: “Hahom Bomatum and Mabrika, these expressions all mean gratitude in the Arawak Taino language of my Aboriginal American ancestors. I am excited humbled and honored to be the 2021 recipient of the Prestigious Rhode Island State Council of The Arts Fellowship in Folk Arts. In our current volatile, litigious and everchanging environment, this fellowship speaks a lot as to RISCA’s support of underserved populations and orientation as to culture and identity.”

Some examples of projects supported in the current round of grants

  • Lydia Perez, Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba, Warwick, $3,000, is a renowned traditional Afro-Puerto Rican master musician and dancer. Her apprentice is a local Puerto Rican resident who will study the rhythms of Yubá, Sicá and Holánde.
  • Debbie Spears Moorehead, Eastern Woodlands Native American Songs, Hope Valley, $3,000, is an artist, a master folk singer, who will continue to teach her apprentice, advanced honor, stomp, powwow, prayer, social, courting love songs, and how to make instruments from raw materials and write music.
  • Fellowship recipient Joel Rosario Tapia., Chief Tureygua Taino Cay M.S.c of The Cibuco Bayamon Taino Tribe and Nation, Providence, $5,000, is a master folk artist who preserves the traditional TAINO (indigenous Caribbean) and Indigenous (eastern woodlands) through Regalia construction, dance, language, singing, drumming and spiritual ceremony using traditional cultural elements.
  • The Newport String Project, Newport, $1,230, grant supports chamber music performance and youth mentoring initiative dedicated to building a community that crosses boundaries of generation, heritage and economic circumstances through access to inspiring musical experiences. The Newport String Project’s model blends a free after-school music education and youth development initiative with a professional concert series that focuses on engaging audiences across Newport County and beyond.
  • The Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative Summer Writing Seminar, Providence, $2,250, assists Lucas Pralle, USMC Veteran and co-founder of Endless Beautiful, to host a five-session online summer writing seminar for Rhode Island Veterans. Lucas will teach how to write short stories based on participants personal experiences and will provide opportunities for the public to view these stories and learn more about Rhode Island Veterans.
  • Providence Community Library, Providence, $2,700, grant supports Feria del Libro y las Artes de Providence, a free bilingual Latino festival for the whole community created by Providence Community Library in partnership with Providence College. It’s a day-long event featuring adult/youth Latino author panels, adult/youth art exhibits, cultural dance, music and puppet performances, artisan crafts, art activities, and a free book for every child.
  • Educator Nick Mendillo, Warren, $2,850, to create and launch the Mt. Hope High School Multimedia Summer Camp. Over the course of five weeks, students will conceptualize, write, film, edit and present a short film from scratch. Utilizing skills in filmmaking, editing, music production, creative writing, and public speaking, this camp is a masterclass in how to create multimedia art for the public

Click here to see a list of Grantees.  (Dates and location may change due to the pandemic.)

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