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Riverzedge Arts Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Series of Events, Summer Block Party

Riverzedge Arts Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Series of Events, Summer Block Party

 March 10, 2022 – Woonsocket –

Woonsocket, RI—Riverzedge Arts, a local nonprofit providing professional training in the arts to Woonsocket teens, is launching a series of events to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its impact on local youth.

The largest of the events in the yearlong series is a Summer Block Party to be held in the organization’s outdoor space and community garden at 196 2nd Avenue on July 16th. Food trucks, games, and an outdoor youth art market are just a few of the attractions for this event, which is free and open to the public.  

Riverzedge Arts works annually with more than 200 youth from underserved communities in Northern RI through its Arts Education and Training (AET) and Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) programs. Teens in the program work with professional artists and designers to develop techniques unique to career fields like screenprinting and graphic design as well as transferable life skills for any profession.

“Youth employed at Riverzedge Arts mostly come from Woonsocket, where approximately thirty-seven percent of the city’s youth are economically disadvantaged and only seventy-four percent graduate from high school,” said Executive Director Kristen Williams. “We are first and foremost a workplace training program that helps move the needle on poverty and graduation rates in Northern Rhode Island. And youth don’t pay to be part of our programming—we pay them, even as we monitor their academic progress and connect them to educational and clinical supports so they can be successful here.”

Alumni from the program have gone on to big things, ranging from careers as professional artists to successful entrepreneurships. And the 20th Anniversary celebrations offer youth, alumni, and visitors a chance to explore these accomplishments over the last two decades as well as the impact that Riverzedge Arts has had on its local community in that time.

“We couldn’t be more proud of our alums! They not only did incredible work while they were enrolled in the AET Program, but they’ve used all the skills and experiences they gained here in ways that are meaningful to them, and have made great things, inspiring things, happen in their lives,” says Artistic Director Brad Fesmire.

The first event in the series will be an Alumni Happy Hour on April 14th where alumni, donors, and anyone interested in the organization can mingle and share stories about Riverzedge Arts’ growth and achievements in the last two decades. In October, Riverzedge Arts will hold an Artist Showcase at the Pawtucket art gallery, Machines with Magnets, featuring the work of current staff and alumni artists.

Formed in 2002, the mission of Riverzedge Arts is to use innovative applied and work-based learning strategies to teach art, design, and critical thinking to the youth of northern RI, providing our participants as well as our community with a path to economic and cultural sustainability.

Woonsocket HEZ Teen Health Workgroup Unveils Art Mural at Thundermist

Woonsocket HEZ Teen Health Workgroup Unveils Art Mural at Thundermist

 March 10, 2022 – Woonsocket – Youth artists at Riverzedge Arts, a Woonsocket Health Equity Zone Teen Health Workgroup partner, transformed an empty space at Thundermist Health Center into a welcoming community courtyard.

The teen workgroup worked with Riverzedge Arts on the project. The art display features a mural painting and benches engraved with You are safe, you are welcome in English and Spanish. The courtyard is an entrance to Thundermist Health Center and aligns with its mission to care for everyBODY.

“The mural shows the kindness of doctors because a lot of people today are afraid of them,” said Arlyn G., 15 years old, teen workgroup artist. “My favorite part of the project was choosing the colors. We had some trouble organizing the background colors, but we kept them in rainbow order, which was my idea.”

Riverzedge Arts prioritizes the voices of youth in the community. The artists behind the artwork were Woonsocket youth; Kevin G., Arlyn G., Danaysia P., Carlise P., and Chris P.

“I was excited to work with Thundermist because it was a chance to reactivate an unused space and turn it into something that’s beautiful and make it a living part of the community,” said Brad Fesmire, artistic director at Riverzedge Arts. A key part of our mission is to use art and design to generate economic and cultural sustainability. The combination of the mural and the furniture we installed creates a warm and welcoming environment for patients and other community members who stop by their facilities.”

“My favorite thing about this project was that we had time to focus on the quality of the painting and the details in the artwork,” said Kevin G., 18 years old, teen workgroup artist. “I’m really proud of how everything turned out in the end, and I think it was really worth the energy we put into it.”

 

“The teen workgroup continues to encourage youth to showcase their talents and thoughts to evoke change in their community,” said Dupe Akinrimisi, Health Equity Zone teen workgroup leader.

The funding for the art was made available through The Fund for Healthy RI and the Woonsocket Health Equity Zone.

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Thundermist Health Center

Thundermist Health Center is a full-service primary care provider with dental and behavioral health services. The non-profit community health center aims to improve the health of patients and communities by delivering exceptional health care, removing barriers to that care, and advancing healthy lifestyles. Thundermist has locations in West Warwick, Woonsocket, and South County. The organization cares for patients regardless of insurance and ability to pay. In 2020, Thundermist cared for more than 51,000 patients.

Learn more at www.thundermisthealth.org.

Woonsocket Health Equity Zone

The Woonsocket Health Equity Zone is a collective impact collaborative that leverages community assets to address health and wellness disparities in Woonsocket by focusing on the social determinants of health. Woonsocket HEZ uses place-based approaches to ensure all residents can succeed and thrive. The mission of the Woonsocket HEZ is to take action to improve the health and quality of life for all people in Woonsocket with the people in Woonsocket.

Learn more at https://health.ri.gov/programs/detail.php?pgm_id=1107.

Riverzedge Arts

Formed in 2002, the mission of Riverzedge Arts is to use innovative applied and work-based learning strategies to teach art, design, and critical thinking to the youth of northern RI, providing our participants as well as our community with a path to economic and cultural sustainability.

Learn more at http://riverzedgearts.org/.

Riverzedge Arts Grows Gardening Community with Community Garden

Riverzedge Arts Grows Gardening Community with Community Garden

March 8, 2022—Woonsocket, RI—The first week of April will mark the opening of Riverzedge Arts’ free community garden, and everyone is encouraged to sign up for a plot.

As part of its newest initiative to build environmentally and economically sustainable relationships with the northern RI community, Riverzedge Arts is opening plots in its community garden to anyone interested in collaborating in a shared green space. There’s just a short paper application—and no fees.

“We wanted to give our neighbors access to fresh vegetables or even flowers and a space to try out their own gardening,” said Artistic Director Brad Fesmire, who designed the program. “There aren’t a lot of homes with lawns in our neighborhood, so we wanted to give people that space. My dream would ultimately be for neighbors to start getting to know each other while they’re growing tomatoes in our back yard.”

The community garden is intended to be open to anyone, Fesmire says, and even includes four raised plots to accommodate gardeners with mobility aids. While no gardening experience is necessary to participate, gardeners who apply do have to commit to regular attendance in the summer in order to keep their plot free from weeds and other waste. The goal for the community garden program is to give the community a chance to come together while also exploring sustainable, eco-friendly horticulture.

The garden contains twenty-one plots in addition to those made accessible to people with disabilities. Interested parties should write to info@riverzedgearts.org or call 401-767-2100 to request an application.

Formed in 2002, the mission of Riverzedge Arts is to use innovative applied and work-based learning strategies to teach art, design, and critical thinking to the youth of northern RI, providing our participants as well as our community with a path to economic and cultural sustainability.

 

Riverzedge Arts Awarded $25,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Riverzedge Arts Awarded $25,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

January 19, 2022 Woonsocket, RI—Riverzedge Arts, a local nonprofit providing professional training in the arts to Woonsocket teens, has been approved for a $25,000 Grant for Arts Projects award to support “The Blackstone Meets Main Street,” an immersive arts installation and mixed-use venue in historic downtown.

“The Blackstone Meets Main Street” reconnects residents and introduces visitors to the Blackstone River’s value as a cultural landscape and make important strides toward stimulating Woonsocket’s creative economy by providing a rejuvenated space for cultural activities. Riverzedge Arts’ project is among 1,248 projects across America that were selected to receive this first round of fiscal year 2022 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects category. 

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects like this one from Riverzedge Arts that help support the community’s creative economy,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “Riverzedge in Woonsocket is among the arts organizations nationwide that are using the arts as a source of strength, a path to well-being, and providing access and opportunity for people to connect and find joy through the arts.”

“At Riverzedge Arts, young artists create civic-minded projects like these from start to finish, often in partnership with the City of Woonsocket. We’re so excited to have our city and our youth participants gain national recognition,” says Riverzedge Arts’ Executive Director Dr. Kristen Williams.

Once again working with Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt’s administration,  Riverzedge Arts will create a multi-media, multi-sensory installation on Main St. using light, video and photographic imagery, and a soundscape to reframe the downtown core of Woonsocket as a site for eco-tourism and cultural activities. Video projections of the river in motion will play across the walls of parking lots and buildings while speakers hidden in alcoves and nooks play a loop of the river’s multi-season soundscape. Large-scale historic and contemporary photographs of the river and its uses will surround pedestrians to activate curiosity and imagination in viewers.

Formed in 2002 by artists, youth development professionals, and community leaders, Riverzedge Arts uses innovative applied and work-based learning strategies to teach art, design, and critical thinking to the youth of northern RI, providing our participants as well as our community with a path to economic and cultural sustainability.

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

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