Fellow Rhode Islanders,
This year, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities celebrated 40 years of sustaining intellectual inquisitiveness; sparking critical thinking skills; supporting civic engagement; and encouraging the sharing of ideas. I commend the Council and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts for their impressive efforts that have inspired generations.
Theaters and galleries, historic sites and heritage organizations, musicians and visual artists, curators and designers, and all creative thinkers are vital to maintaining Rhode Island's cultural life, economy and reputation as the "state of the arts." During national Arts and Humanities month in October, we reflect on the State's vibrant arts and culture community -- one of the premier assets we have in Rhode Island. Not only during this month, but throughout all months of the year, they are central to our lives in innumerable ways from school concerts and performances to major Broadway productions at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Click here for a listing of Rhode Island's diverse and varied theatrical and entertainment venues.
In 2009, a report by the New England Foundation for the Arts conveyed that direct and indirect spending by the nonprofit arts totaled $673 million and supported nearly 8,000 jobs. Last year, the national arts service organization, Americans for the Arts, puts arts employment -- non-profit and for-profit -- at more than 12,000 people in Rhode Island. Just this month, I visited promising production facilities in Bristol where industrial skills from our maritime heritage are being used to produce monumental works of public art and cutting edge carbon fiber musical instruments.
In our capital city of Providence, you will find an especially large and diverse arts output that generates key revenue and supports many of those thousands of jobs. But beyond the borders of our "creative capital," our State is bursting at the seams with fertile minds of originality. The scope and breadth are impressive. From the world-renowned collection at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum to the interactive exhibits at Woonsocket's Museum of Work and Culture, Rhode Island is full of galleries and exhibit halls. For a listing click here.
A year ago, I appointed an accomplished poet and educator Rick Benjamin as State Poet. Rick, through his writing and reading of his poems, had been enriching lives across Rhode Island for years. He had already distinguished himself as the "unofficial" state poet, and it was my pleasure to make him "official." Recently, during a reading at the State House, he captured the spirit of the month with his poem "The Art of Being Human." You can read his poem in its entirety by clicking here.
Lincoln D. Chafee