February 11, 2011

NEA Chairman Praises RI Artistic Community

Chairman Joins Senator Whitehouse for Tour of Local Arts Scene

Providence, RI – Highlighting the integral role Rhode Island’s artistic community plays in our state’s economy, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today hosted Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), for a tour of the local arts scene.

“I was glad to host Chairman Landesman in Rhode Island to showcase local artists and institutions, and their amazing talents and innovations,” said Whitehouse, who invited Landesman to the state and who serves as an ex-officio member of the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body to the NEA. “The arts support thousands of jobs in our state, and are an important part of our unique quality of life. I will work with the Chairman for the NEA to help keep our arts community thriving.”

“There are three key ingredients for the arts to thrive: a local tradition of the arts, a committed philanthropic sector, and political leadership that ‘gets it.’ Having spent two days here, I can report definitively that Rhode Island has all three,” said NEA Chairman Landesman. “The arts are flourishing in Narragansett, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, and Woonsocket, and that is a great testament to the dedication and support that begin with Senator Whitehouse, and indeed, all of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation.”

“Senator Whitehouse’s slate of events today clearly demonstrates the arts boost our economy and our quality of life. The Rhode Island Foundation was thrilled to host the roundtable with the Senator and the NEA Chairman. The program fit perfectly with our goal of strengthening the vitality of the arts sector and deepening the level of engagement in the arts across our state,” said Owen Heleen, vice president for grant programs at the Rhode Island Foundation.

Whitehouse and Landesman began the day with a roundtable discussion at the Rhode Island Foundation about arts and the economy. During the discussion, the Chairman heard from representatives of RiverzEdge, the Gamm Theatre, and the Warwick Museum of Art. Landesman also showcased the new official NEA logo, which was designed by a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). From there, Whitehouse and Landesman went on to visit RISD, Trinity Repertory Company, and Gallery Z in Providence; the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School in East Providence; and Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket.

According to a 2007 study by Americans for the Arts, non-profit arts and cultural organizations in Providence generate $111.8 million annually in local economic activity and supported at least 2,759 jobs. Furthermore, between 2007 and 2008, employment at arts-centric businesses in Rhode Island increased by 5.1% despite a decline in employment overall throughout the state.

In fiscal year 2010, the NEA gave $1,212,500 in grants to Rhode Island arts institutions.


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