FirstWorks to Receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
May 18, 2022

FirstWorks to Receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
Award will support projects engaging visionary artists and widening audience access to world-class arts experiences in Rhode Island

Providence, RI—FirstWorks, a Providence-based nonprofit dedicated to connecting art with audiences, has been approved for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). FirstWorks’ project will widen the circle for Rhode Island audiences by engaging visionary artists of color in a series of multidisciplinary arts commissions, presentations, residencies, and related engagement activities.

FirstWorks’ project is among 1,125 projects across America totaling more than $26.6 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2022 funding. This award will be FirstWorks’ 27th NEA grant in the organization’s 18-year history.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation with these grants, including FirstWorks, providing opportunities for all of us to live artful lives,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “The arts contribute to our individual well-being, the well-being of our communities, and to our local economies. The arts are also crucial to helping us make sense of our circumstances from different perspectives as we emerge from the pandemic and plan for a shared new normal informed by our examined experience.”

“We are deeply grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for their support of FirstWorks’ commitment to inclusive programming that brings audiences together,” said Kathleen Pletcher, FirstWorks’ Executive Artistic Director. “FirstWorks’ efforts to create equitable access to the arts have only increased throughout these unprecedented times—these projects will gather our community to heal, engage in important dialogue, and rejoice in being together.”

The NEA Grants for Arts award-funded FirstWorks project will begin at PVDFest, downtown Providence’s signature arts festival taking place June 10-12, 2022, and will continue into the summer months with FirstWorks Summer Beats free concerts presented in partnership with the City of Providence and Roger Williams Park.

At PVDFest on Saturday, June 11, 2022, Chicago’s The Era Footwork Crew will be joined by DJ Spinn from the electronic collective Teklife for a free outdoor, interactive party for the Providence community. The Era Footwork Crew has pioneered the battle dance known as Chicago footwork since 2014. This Footwork Rave will also feature inserts from The Era’s award-winning show “IN THE WURKZ” supported by the New England Foundation of The Arts (NEFA). On Sunday, June 12, 2022, the crew will lead a workshop at Providence’s Kennedy Plaza where they will teach participants some of their footwork moves and talk about their creative process and activism work. For details on PVDFest visit pvdfest.com.

The FirstWorks Summer Beats line-up features three free concerts. Presented in partnership with Roger Williams Park Conservancy and Providence Parks Department, two outdoor concerts at the Roger Williams Park Bandstand offer an opportunity for all ages to experience the hip-hop stylings of hometown hero Flawless on July 24, 2022, and William Cepeda’s Afro-Rican Jazz band on August 14, 2022. On August 7, 2022, the thunderous beats and urgent messages of DakhaBrakha, a pop-punk world music quartet hailing from Kyiv, Ukraine, will be presented as a special PVDFest happening produced by FirstWorks in partnership with Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, with location and details to be announced. For details on the FirstWorks summer season, visit firstworks.org.

For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

About FirstWorks
FirstWorks is a non-profit based in Providence, Rhode Island whose purpose is to build the cultural, educational and economic vitality of its community by engaging diverse audiences with world-class performing arts and education programs. Since 2004,  FirstWorks festivals, performances and programs have attracted more than 600,000  participants. Last season, FirstWorks arts education programs reached over 5,500  students from public and charter schools across Rhode Island with transformative, arts-based learning experiences. FirstWorks is the founding partner of PVDFest, collaborating with the City of Providence to curate and produce the City’s free signature arts celebration since 2015. Since then, the festival has drawn over 480,000 visitors to Providence to experience music, art and spectacular performances. In 2022, PVDFest makes a comeback with FirstWorks again curating spectacles and world-class performances that light up Downtown. Embracing collaboration, FirstWorks has fostered over 90 community partnerships across the business, social service, government, arts and education sectors. Visit firstworks.org to learn more.

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