WaterFire Providence

By Sara Emaus and Melissa Woods

This season marks the 20th year that WaterFire has been positively impacting the city of Providence, individuals from Rhode Island, and visitors from all over the world.

WaterFire Providence is an independent, non-profit arts organization whose mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement and creatively transforming the city by presenting an open, collaborative art piece in the heart of downtown Providence for all to enjoy. Beginning shortly after sunset, the event involves lighting fires in braziers on the surface of the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck and Providence Rivers flowing through the city center, accompanied by diverse performances and cultural activities across the installation.

WaterFire events draw over 1 million people each year to the city of Providence, encouraging international cultural tourism and helping fortify Providence’s brand as “The Creative Capital.” According to a recent federal agency economic impact report, WaterFire is credited with creating over $114 million in revenue for local businesses every year, while also generating more than $9 million in tax revenue for the State of Rhode Island and supporting nearly 1,300 jobs in the greater Providence community.

Every WaterFire event is completely free and open to the public. Each event has various performing artists, ranging from African drummers to ballet dancers, historical reenactors and WaterFire’s signature fire dancers. Visitors can also explore the WaterFire Arts Festival Plaza, a marketplace and showcase for local artists and craftspeople. Living statues, mimes and gargoyles are also popular attractions that come to life shortly after the braziers are lit.

While at WaterFire, be sure to visit one of the festival’s many guest stations where you can learn more about the event and what goes on behind the scenes at this remarkable non-profit organization. Almost 90% of WaterFire’s funding comes from private or corporate donations, so please consider making a contribution to help keep the fires burning!

Finally, WaterFire is embarking on an exciting new project in the building of the WaterFire Arts Center, the organization’s first permanent home. A multi-use arts center unlike any other in the region, it will host events, exhibitions and performances, and will house both an education center and a visitor’s center.

Like WaterFire itself, the WaterFire Art Center will contribute to creative activity within the City of Providence, bolstering tourism and the local economy. For more information and to stay up to date with this exciting venture, visit www.future.waterfire.org.

We hope you will join WaterFire at one of our full fires this season. Visit www.waterfire.org/schedule to see the list of this season’s events and more information.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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