30 Years of Creative Placemaking in Providence

Bert Crenca, AS220, Barnaby Evans, WaterFire Providence and Clay Rockefeller, The Steel Yard and Lynne McCormack, Director of Art Culture + Tourism, City of Providence share their experiences in building and supporting creative cultural institutions that helped redefine a city. This panel was moderated by Anne Gadwa Nicodemus.

Umberto CrencaUmberto Crenca is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of AS220, a nonprofit center for the arts in Providence, Rhode Island. AS220 was established in 1985 to provide a local, unjuried, and uncensored home for the arts. The organization maintains three buildings, providing: fifty eight artist live and/or work spaces, four exhibition spaces, a print shop, a media lab including a black and white darkroom, a fabrication lab, a stage, a recording studio, a black box theater, a dance studio, and a popular bar and restaurant. AS220′s permanent establishment in the City’s downtown is widely recognized as one of the first significant steps in the creation of the Providence Arts and Entertainment District.

Barnaby EvansBarnaby Evans is an artist who works in many media including site-specific sculpture installations, photography, film, garden design, architectural projects, writing and conceptual works. His original training was in the sciences, but he has been working exclusively as an artist for more than twenty-five years.

Barnaby created WaterFire in its first version in 1994 in Providence as First Fire to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence. In June 1996, he created Second Fire for the International Sculpture Conference and the Convergence International Arts Festival in Providence. With hundreds of volunteers and the broad support of the community he established WaterFire as an on-going installation in 1997.

Clay RockefellerClay Rockefeller is co-founder of the Steel Yard with Nick Bauta. Rockefeller also helped launch the Monohasset Mill Project, which transformed a former steam engine factory into a 39-unit artist live/work complex adjacent to the Steel Yard. An artist, activist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Rockefeller has served on the boards of, or acted as consultant to, organizations such as AS220, Olneyville Housing Corporation, Betaspring, the David Rockefeller Fund, and Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors. He is a graduate of Brown University.

Lynne McCormackLynne McCormack serves as the director ofArt, Culture + Tourism for the City of Providence, Rhode Island. In her 14-year tenure as a city arts administrator she has moved through the ranks, from production coordinator to a trusted member of the mayor’s cabinet. Since assuming the director position in 2006, Ms. McCormack has successfully transitioned the department from an office of cultural affairs focused on public programming to a community and economic development agency.

Anne Gadwa NicodemusAs a researcher, writer, speaker, and advocate, Anne Gadwa Nicodemus tells stories through narratives and numbers. Her favorite muse is creative placemaking.  She’s fascinated by all kinds of places—their form, their people, their change. A choreographer/arts administrator turned urban planner, Nicodemus is a leading voice in the intersection of arts and community development.


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