10 to Watch

Shey Rivera

AS220’s Director of Programs

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Bio
• 29 years old
• Moved to Providence from Puerto Rico in 2010
• Founded .Crudo, an arts and culture magazine in Puerto Rico and Rhode Island
• Member of several arts and music projects, including the performance duo ISLANDS, Las Tenoras poetry collective and experimental music ensemble Monkee Head

• Attended leadership institutes of both the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture and the National Association of Media Arts and Culture

How She Caught Our Attention
Rivera ascended to one of the top positions in one of the state’s largest arts organizations (three properties and $25 million invested downtown) before her 30th birthday, and after fewer than five years in Providence. As Director of Programs for AS220, she oversees a team of program leaders to manage “community, content and outreach partnerships” for the organization’s many arms, including gallery and performance spaces, youth programming, a print shop, a fabrication lab, a restaurant and bar, and more. While AS220 founder/Artistic Director Bert Crenca remains as vital a force in the arts community as ever, the organization will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year, and its next generation of leadership is taking shape. Rivera is rumored to be the heir apparent.

What She Brings to the Table
Like Crenca, Rivera comes from the background of a practicing artist. That gives her the credibility, empathy and ability to speak the same language that she needs to be a leader within the creative community. On the flipside, her experience as an arts manager allows her to more effectively advocate for that community, and what it can contribute to our city. “I’ve grown to better understand the multidimensional role that art and artists play in the development of healthy communities,” she says. “Artists have agency in community engagement. We are community members that are equally concerned with the well-being of the people that surround us and the communities where we live.”

What's On Tap for 2015
First, there is the aforementioned 30th anniversary, which the organization will be celebrating in big ways still to be announced. AS220 will also be extending its footprint beyond downtown, developing a new building across the highway on Broad Street. They’ll offer more educational opportunities and job readiness paths, and move AS220 Industries (i.e. the print shop, fab lab, etc.) there as well. Like previous developments, it will also offer affordable live/work space to artists, and probably support a small local business as a tenant.

Some of the downtown space freed up by moving Industries will be used to develop an Interactive Center for Creativity. This will serve as a two-fold support for the arts. It will be an information center and retail gallery space – essentially a tourist welcome center for Providence’s arts community. But it will also be a facilitator for working artists looking to connect to opportunities or learn how to better support themselves as professionals.

Perhaps the development with the most potential is the consultancy model AS220 is launching to profit from sharing its institutional knowledge and best practices with foundations, arts organizations and cities looking to support creative communities. That could not only serve as a significant new revenue source, but also make the organization one of the largest exporters of Providence’s creative capital, so to speak. “We constantly serve as a vehicle for Providence as the Creative Capital,” Rivera says. And she is one of the people in the driver’s seat.

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