Good News

The Creative Capital Wins Big

WaterFire and Community MusicWorks take home grants for placemaking


The Governor’s Office, the Mayor’s office, the City Council and loads of press representatives all piled in to the State House today (June 12, 2012) to congratulate WaterFire and Community MusicWorks on growing into nationally recognized art initiatives. ArtPlace, a collaborative of the nation’s top foundations partnered with the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), awarded grants to these two initiatives worth $454,000 and $100,000 respectively.

ArtPlace is a national organization that launched last year and has already raised $50 million to work with federal and state governments to shape communities with art. This was the first year ArtPlace implemented a competitive application process to which over 2,200 organizations responded. Only 47 of these were approved for grants and two of them are right here in Providence.

“Arts make us special as a city and state,” Mayor Angel Taveras said, regarding in particular the efforts of Sebastian Ruth (Founder of Community MusicWorks) and Barnaby Evans (Creator and Executive Artistic Director for WaterFire). With these grants, Evans and Ruth announced plans for their continuing effort to embolden art in Providence.

WaterFire has a two-part plan for their award. “Over 15 million people have made the trip to Providence over the past 18 years to see WaterFire,” Evans noted. The first half of the plan will create an art incubator, which will build on past success and work with a range of artists and cultural organizations to create and perform new placemaking efforts. Particularly exciting to ArtPlace is WaterFire's second plan to build a placemaking learning lab. Other potential uses for the award include designing a series of workshops, symposiums or even a conference for creative public art to share the successful techniques employed by WaterFire around the world. Barnaby believes Providence is the right size, has the right resources, and has the leadership necessary to be the perfect community for creative placemaking.

WaterFire is exactly the sort of community event ArtPlace is looking to award. It has in fact become a poster-child of sorts for the organization. “We’ve been singing their praises for so long, we thought we should finally back it up,” explained Art Place’s Carol Coletta.

Sebastian Ruth presented a picture of a red triangle at the conference. “This is a map of the west end of Providence, and we are going to concentrate nine performances, to gather people together in typical concert fashion but also in new and different ways…” he explained. Community MusicWorks plans to use its award toward free musical performances aimed at community building. “We are particularly excited that this series of events will bring the city and the state together as a model for the way life should be,” Ruth insists.

Community MusicWorks began in 1997 with 15 violin students, and has grown to include 10 classical, residential musicians, and works with more than 100 children free of charge. Their mission is to create a cohesive urban community through music education and performance that transforms the lives of children, families and musicians.

“These two projects receiving ArtPlace funding exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” emphasizes Coletta. And with that, the Creative Capital takes another step towards living up to its name.