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PVDx2031: A Cultural Plan for Culture Shift

Summary  Artist Facilitators   Art in Public Spaces Creative Economic Development Art and Well-being  Public Awareness, Tourism and Advocacy The Creative Workforce Arts Teaching and Learning Resilient Nonprofits
2023 Pell Lecture Registration


The City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT) is proud to release its updated cultural plan. PVDx2031: A Cultural Plan for Culture Shift outlines strategies and recommendations for strengthening arts, culture and creativity in Providence. To download the full version for web click here.

We are so grateful to mediumstudio who worked with over these past several months to define the plan’s final design

Have questions about the cultural plan? Please contact Micah Salkind, ACT’s Deputy Director, to schedule a time to discuss:

Members of the public were invited to comment on the draft by August 1, 2021. To read our draft, click here.

Artist Facilitators

Meet MJ, Shey, and Tracy. Together, they make up the Creative Providence Artist-Facilitation team responsible for co-designing and co-facilitating our virtual events, supporting our Sector Alchemists across the seven virtual planning studios, and helping ACT to identify strategies, recommendations, visions, and goals for this plan.

MJ Robinson [they/them] is an author-illustrator, educator, and community organizer for prison abolition, LGBTQ rights, and racial justice. MJ works at the RISD Museum and supports community gardens in Providence parks. They hold a certificate in Children’s Book Illustration from RISD and a BA in Studio Art and Creative Writing from Oberlin College.

Shey ‘Rí Acu’ Rivera Ríos [they/them] is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and arts administrator with 10 years of experience in the nonprofit arts sector. Rivera was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and Providence, RI has been their home for the past 10 years. Key artistic projects include the LUNA LOBA performance series and the FANTASY ISLAND transmedia project. Rivera is former Artistic/Co-Director of AS220, a renowned arts organization and creative incubator in Providence, RI, and successor to AS220 founder Umberto Crenca. After 8 years at AS220, Rivera took on the role of Director of Inclusive Regional Development at MIT CoLab, in the Dept of Urban Studies and Planning of MIT, where they co-designed and implemented workshops on collective leadership and community innovation in Colombia. Today, Rivera is an independent artist and consultant specializing in arts management and community organizing at the intersection of culture and planning. Rivera is on the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Artist Communities, and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Puerto Rican Institute for Arts and Advocacy in Rhode Island.

Tracy Jonsson [she/her] is a multimedia artist and historian living in Providence RI. She plays music as the composer, performer, and singer in the one-woman loop-pedal act Drone Dolores, and lumps her making, jewelry design, photography, digital art, staging, and interior environmental design work under the umbrella Tracy Jonsson Designs. Tracy likes to muse and critically evaluate the minutia within life, and has a particular passion for visual and experiential art, equity thinking, urban design, architectural history, and innovating the public realm.

Art in Public Places

On September 15, 2020, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism came together for a conversation about cultural participation and finding ways to enhance opportunities for every resident to have arts experiences in their neighborhoods. The City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism led the session, with Dr. Micah Salkind, Special Projects Manager, at the helm. Guest speakers included Meida McNeal of the Chicago Parks District and Honey Pot Performance and Kenny Borge, independent artist and skateboarding advocate.

ACT Art in Public Places Slideshow
ACT Art in Public Places Briefing Paper (Coming Soon)

Sector Alchemist, Dr. Micah Salkind is the Special Projects Manager for the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities in the Department of American Studies at Brown University. He manages large grants and strategic artist initiatives for the City, collaborating with the Creative Capital’s largest non-profit cultural institutions as well as its emerging artists, designers, and creative entrepreneurs. He also serves on the boards of the Providence Public Library and Community MusicWorks and is an ongoing collaborator with dancers and scholars in Chicago’s Honey Pot Performance collective and Matthew Cumbie Projects’ “Growing Our Own Gardens” initiative. A DJ, sound designer, and curator, Salkind is the author of Do You Remember House? Chicago’s Queer of Color Undergrounds (Oxford University Press).

Creative Economic Development

On October 13, 2020, The Steel Yard facilitated a conversation that looked at creatives through the lens of employers and jobs in the for-profit and nonprofit creative industries. Guest speakers included Roger Cummings of Juxtoposition Arts, Jason Almeida, and Sabrina Chaudhary of Stay Silent, and James Mark, local restaurateur.

Sector Alchemist, The Steel Yard’s historic campus is a platform for professional artists, makers, and the community to practice and learn the industrial arts. The organization fosters creative and economic opportunities, by providing workspace, tools, training, and education while forging lasting links to a local tradition of craftsmanship. The Steel Yard believes in a world still made by hands, where individuals, neighbors, businesses, institutions, municipalities, and communities, come together to experience the creative process in order to enrich our private lives and public spaces.

Art and Well-being

On October 14, 2020, Rhode Island Black Storytellers facilitated a conversation inspired by the work of Providence artists working at the intersection of arts, health, and climate justice.  Guest speakers included Loren Spears, Director of the Tomaquag Museum, Frederick Johnson, Artist-in-Resident at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, and Nicole Hernandez, climate scientist at Uprose.

Sector Alchemist, Rhode Island Black Storytellers (RIBS) promotes the awareness, appreciation and application of Black Storytelling through performances, workshops, historical, cultural and educational experiences for all. RIBS defines Black Storytelling as the oral art and traditions of African and African descended people world wide. RIBS Director Valerie Tutson is an artist, creative thinker and problem solver. As a cultural steward, Tutson values the diverse cultures of all people. As a justice seeker, she ensures all people have a voice and a place at the table. As a dreamer, Valerie works in arts and culture to make life better for individuals and community. And as a doer, Valerie makes things happen.

Public Awareness, Tourism and Advocacy

On October 19, 2020, the Providence Cultural Equity Initiative facilitated a conversation about Providence’s cultural tourism development, promotion of the creative sector, and advocacy.  Guest speakers included Tracy Dancing Bear Brown of the Peaquot Nation, Silaphone Nhonvongsouthy of the Laotian Community Center, and Lanre Ajakaiye, social entrepreneur.

Sector Alchemist, the Providence Cultural Equity Initiative (PCEI) is a nonprofit that promotes, cultivates and advocates for the Cultural Sector and Economy of Rhode Island.The Mission of PCEI is “to steward and ambassador Rhode Island’s Cultural Sector & Economy”.The Vision of PCEI is “to transform Rhode Island into New England’s premier cultural hub”. PCEI defines cultural equity as ensuring that the diverse expressions of cultural communities and cultural practitioners are protected, promoted and supported in a fair and equitable manner. PCEI’s philosophy is that each of us is “Walking in Two Worlds”; balancing the spaces we commune in with the norms and values of our own personal cultural narratives and experiences.  Seeking to effectively navigate this space serves as the foundation and motivation for PCEI’s work. PCEI supports and values uncompromising commitment to cultural authenticity, equity and sustainability by promoting and presenting products, services and engagement opportunities with Rhode Island’s Cultural Sector and Economy. Accordingly, PCEI’s Value Proposition is that we are “Changing how the story of Rhode Island Is told and sold”.

The Creative Workforce

On October 20, 2020, sector alchemist AS220 led a conversation about artist development and supporting individual artists to live, work, and thrive in Providence. Guest speakers included Neal Walsh and Ruth Harvey of AS220, Shey Rivera Rios (see bio above), and guest facilitators AM Andrade of Glitter Goddess Collective, Christopher Johnson, Vatic Kuumba, and Valerie Tutson.

Arts Teaching and Learning

On October 27, 2020, Providence Youth Arts Collaborative (lead organizer Denise Reidpath, RI RIOT) facilitated a conversation about lifelong learning in the arts, including opportunities for K-12 in- school and out-of-school learning, as well as programs for adults and elders. Guest storytellers included muralist AGONZA, musician Roz Raskin, and photographer / arts teacher Aarav Sundaresh.

Sector Alchemist Providence Youth Arts Collaborative (PYAC)‘s 2020 lead organizer is Denise Mathews-Reidpath, Co-Executive Director at RIOT (formerly known as Girls Rock! RI). She was born and raised in Sinaloa, Mexico and has called Rhode Island home for over 15 years. She is rooted in the Providence community which drives her work. With a background in bilingual education, advocacy, and community outreach, her focus is on positive youth development and educational justice aligned with arts accessibility. As a musician and writer herself, she believes in music creation and expression as a tool for social change. Denise is also a community yoga instructor who has volunteered to facilitate yoga and body image workshops through the lens of intersectionality, and trauma-informed practices. She is currently a student at Providence College SCE focusing on Intercultural Communication, Sociology and Gender as well as working towards becoming a certified Secondary Education educator and when she is not studying, working, rocking out or finding new hiking trails nearby, she’s enjoying quality time at home with her partner and her cat at home.

Resilient Nonprofits

On November 30, 2020, Nancy Wolanski of Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island (GCRI) facilitated a conversation about lifelong learning in the arts, including opportunities for K-12 in- school and out-of-school learning as well as programs for adults and elders. Guest speakers included Ditra Edwards, Co-Founder and Director of Sista Fire and Regina R. Smith, Managing Director of the Kresge Foundation’s Art and Culture Program.

Sector Alchemist GCRI was founded in 2003, as a network to support staff in grantmaking organizations to maximize the effectiveness of their philanthropic work. In 2015, GCRI entered into a partnership with United Way of Rhode Island, vastly expanding GCRI’s capacity to support the philanthropic sector in the state, as well as providing additional resources and connections to nonprofits engaged in the work of community building throughout Rhode Island.

Funding for the 2021 Creative Providence Cultural Plan is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, RISCA, and the City of Providence.

Visit this page for updates on the Creative Providence Cultural Plan or follow us on social to learn more and find ways to get involved.





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