WaterFire Providence

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 WaterFire for all to enjoy.

WaterFire, the award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence, has been praised by Rhode Island residents and international visitors alike as a powerful work of art and a moving symbol of the city’s renaissance. With over eighty sparkling bonfires, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the flickering firelight on the arched bridges, the silhouettes of the firetenders passing by the flames, the torch-lit vessels traveling down the river, and the enchanting music from around the world, WaterFire engages all the senses and emotions of those who experience it.

In 1994, artist Barnaby Evans created First Fire as a commission to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence. Two years later, Evans created Second Fire for the International Sculpture Conference where it became the gathering place for thousands of international participants. Following the success of these first two independent art installations, supporters convinced Evans to create an on-going art project and started a grass-roots effort to establish WaterFire Providence as a non-profit organization.  With the support of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, a hardworking professional staff, generous donations from visitors, contributions from corporate leaders, and support from the City and State, WaterFire’s bright flames now regularly return to illuminate downtown Providence.

Cited by the Providence Journal in 1997 as “the most popular work of art created in the capital city’s 371-year history” and by architect Friedrich St. Florian as the “crown jewel of the Providence renaissance,” WaterFire continues to grow and gain in popularity. Since 1994, WaterFire has captured the imagination of over fifteen million visitors, bringing life to downtown, and revitalizing Rhode Island’s capital city.

The power of WaterFire Providence to attract millions of visitors is eloquent testimony to the importance of public art and its capacity to restore our urban and social landscape. Additionally, WaterFire is a proven economic engine for the community creating $70 million of economic impact for Providence businesses, generating $5 million of tax revenue for the State of Rhode Island and supporting over 500 jobs for local residents each year. WaterFire also attracts extraordinary positive national and international media which helps secure Providence’s position as a popular international cultural tourism destination.

In 2012, in recognition of its accomplishments in using art to bring vibrancy to Providence, ArtPlace, a consortium of major national foundations in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and other federal agencies, awarded WaterFire Providence a grant to launch a public art incubator to experiment with new forms of art, develop a creative placemaking learning lab to collect and share latest and best practices and further highlight how art can make significant economic and social contributions to a city.

WaterFire is an independent non-profit arts organization that needs your support to present an admission-free community arts event that adds vibrancy and economic impact to Providence and Rhode Island.

For information on how you and your business can partner with WaterFire please call 401-273-1155.

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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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