PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Lizzie Araujo, Director of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT), and Lois Harada, Chair of the Art in City Life Commission today announced the selection of twelve arts and/or culture-based non-profit organizations to receive a total of $500,000 in grant funding through the Providence American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Additionally, the City celebrated the continued prioritization of public art, while also recognizing its Sidewalk Tattoo project.
The 12 non-profits selected for grant funding through the ARPA Special Events Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) are Providence Children’s Film Festival, DESIGNxRI, Southside Community Land Trust, Educational Center of Arts and Sciences (ECAS), The Steel Yard, FirstWorks, Federal Hill Commerce Association, D’High Class Human Development Agency, Rhode Island Latino Arts (RILA), Oasis International, the Wilbury Theatre Group, and Quisqueya in Action, Inc.
“When I look back at my time as Mayor of this great city, it will always bring me great pride to know that we prioritized art and our local artist community, and that’s precisely what we did with Providence American Rescue Plan funding” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Through funding public art installations in all of our neighborhoods, creating a massive, one-of-a-kind arts festival in PVDFest, and other significant cultural achievements, we have centered art as a public good, reduced barriers to experiences, and expanded arts equity.”
Applicants were able to apply for up to $50,000 of demonstrated need. To be eligible for funding, these Providence-based, art and culture-based organizations had to (1) currently provide public special events programming and (2) have experienced negative impacts or disproportionate impacts of the pandemic as demonstrated by a year-to-year financial comparison with the fiscal year ending prior to March 2020.
Additionally, the Department of Art, Culture, + Tourism celebrated its the Sidewalk Tattoo public art program, made possible in part by the Art in City Life Ordinance. In early 2021, ACT and the Art in City Life Commission invited RI-based writers and artists to submit poetry or word-based art for permanent display on City sidewalks. Following the open call, the Art in City Life Commission awarded 30 artists $1,000 each, for a total of 30 poems or designs. The awarded poems were printed on reusable stamps, and the first two poems were installed into newly-repaired sidewalks in September of 2022. The first two tattoo installations can be found on Sharon Street, with many more to be applied in the future as funding and site conditions allow.
“There is a real reverence for the arts in Providence; it’s palpable every time we experience a new installation, announce a new program, or even observe community members experiencing public art,” said Lizzie Araujo, the City of Providence’s Director of Art, Culture + Tourism. “Our recent and upcoming installations demonstrate the constant creative pulse of Providence, and our Mayor and his administration have made sure that we have the funds and tools that we need to nurture our local arts community.”
Providence’s public art program has become increasingly robust in the last six years, in part due to a 42-year-old ordinance. In 2016, Mayor Elorza revived the Art in City Life ordinance of 1980, which recognized that the “City of Providence accepts a responsibility for expanding experience with the visual arts,” called for the appointment of an Art in City Life Commission and for city departments to budget for “an amount equal to at least one percent of the total project to be expended on works of art.” In April of 2016, Mayor Elorza established Providence’s Art in City Life Commission to develop policies and protocols for the installation of public art.
The Art in City Life Commission has transformed the Providence public art landscape in just a few short years. Since the City’s public art plan went into place in 2018, Providence has commissioned:
- 11 artists in residence in public facing institutions including City departments, recreation centers, senior centers, and community libraries;
- 10 temporary sculptures through PVDFest and ACT’s Public Art Ideas Competition;
- 3 permanent murals;
- 3 ground murals; and
- a nationally recognized curriculum in Artist-Facilitation
“The City’s commitment to creating a robust and vibrant public art landscape in Providence has never been more apparent,” said Lois Harrada, Chair of the Art in City Life Commission. “The Art in City Life Commission is committed to developing and facilitating responsive calls for art in all neighborhoods and these methods of public funding will help steward landmark pieces that will provide inspiration and places of reflection for all residents and visitors to Providence.”
The City of Providence’s Art, Culture + Tourism Department ensures the continued development of a vibrant and creative city by integrating arts and culture into community life while showcasing Providence as an international cultural destination. ACT commissions public art and produces public programming in all 25 of the City’s neighborhoods, facilitates education partnerships in schools and libraries, and produces multiple flagship festivals, an annual arts and humanities lecture, and other dynamic public programs while stewarding a small portfolio of grants.
For more information on public art in Providence, please visit ACT’s website.