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Providence launches new cultural plan to support arts, culture, creativity

Department of Art, Culture and Tourism plan prioritizes creative economy, nonprofits

The plan, titled “PVDx2031: A Cultural Plan for Culture Shift,” highlights specific intersections between creativity and public wellbeing.
The plan, titled “PVDx2031: A Cultural Plan for Culture Shift,” highlights specific intersections between creativity and public wellbeing.

Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism launched its cultural plan at the City’s annual Pell Lecture on Arts and Humanities Wednesday. The plan, titled “PVDx2031: A Cultural Plan for Culture Shift,” outlines “strategies and recommendations for strengthening arts, culture and creativity in Providence,” according to a March 1 press release

“This extraordinary document will serve as the ‘lodestar’ for all the initiatives, collaborations, programs and processes ACT will continue to undertake as we move forward,” said ACT Director Joe Wilson Jr. in his speech at the event.

The plan consists of seven core motifs, each highlighting specific intersections between creativity and public well-being. Themes include “Resilient Nonprofits,” which focuses on the sustainability of “cultural organizations,” and “Creative Economy,” which aims to ensure economic activity centered around the sale of “art, culture and design-based goods and services.” 

The plan sets “the course for a more equitable, resilient, inclusive and connected community,” the press release reads. It lists strategies and recommended actions to guide ACT’s future policies, including addressing fair wages and benefits for artists, supporting neighborhood-based artists and developing a “more equitable and regenerative creative economy,” according to the plan.


Arts and culture practitioners spent two years developing the plan, collecting community input and collaborating with stakeholders to develop a blueprint best suited to support Providence’s creative life, according to the press release. 

The ACT has already begun implementing parts of the plan, awarding nearly $6 million

dollars in funding to both individual artists and Providence’s creative nonprofits “for the purpose of rebuilding and recovery post-COVID,” Wilson said in his speech. 

Mayor Brett Smiley expressed enthusiasm for the plan’s launch in the press release, explaining the plan’s potential for community impact across the nonprofit sector.

“It brings me great pride to know that we prioritize art and our local arts community, and that’s precisely what we’re doing today,” he said in the press release. “As mayor, I recognize the need for a plan like this, one that asks the tough questions and poses realistic, measurable solutions that can be implemented by both the city and the community.”

The annual Pell lecture, where the plan was announced, is hosted by the city to honor former U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, who advocated for arts and humanities funding. This year’s lecture included a keynote speech from Vanessa Whang, a researcher, program designer and consultant for California-based organizations engaged with the arts.

“After all we have been through as a country and in particular, people in the public sector — including the health crisis and ongoing reckoning with structural racism — we need people to be willing to take a stand on their values and the actions they want to take,” Whang said. “Providence’s new cultural plan seeks to do just that.”

Whang emphasized the importance of “recognizing the myriad of cultures in the city” as Providence continues working toward “achieving equity.” 

“The uniqueness of the cultural plan is that it is indeed Providence's cultural plan and not a cookie cutter version of some other city's,” Whang wrote. “It has (a) big vision, is aspirational, but also very specific. It is willing to put a stake in the ground about its core values. It has the potential to show the way for other cities to embrace the richness and wisdoms of their own communities.”


Julia Vaz

Julia Vaz is the managing editor of newsroom and vice president on The Herald's 134th Editorial Board. Previously, she covered Environment and Crime & Justice as a Metro editor. A concentrator in political science and modern culture and media, she loves watching Twilight (as a comedy) and casually dropping the fact she is from Brazil.

Sofia Barnett

Sofia Barnett is a University News editor overseeing the faculty and higher education beat. She is a junior from Texas studying history and English nonfiction and enjoys freelancing in her free time.

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