elorza providence

Mayor Elorza Helps to Kick-Off Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts Project

The three-day kickoff event will culminate with a celebratory procession

along the Woonasquatucket River Greenway on July 27.


PROVIDENCE, RI   Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Department of Art, Culture + Tourism Director Stephanie Fortunato, WaterFire Providence Executive Artistic Director and co-CEO Barnaby Evans, Wilbury Theatre Group Founder and Artistic Director Josh Short, members of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed CouncilThe Manton Avenue ProjectThe Steel YardDirt Palace and community partners at Riverside Park to kick off the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts project, which features a collection of site-specific performances and temporary artworks on display along the banks of the Woonasquatucket River Corridor during FRINGEPVD (July 22-27) through the fall.

“We’re thinking big about the role of the Woonasquatucket River Corridor; not only as a driver of economic growth, entrepreneurship and creative industries, but also as a source of energy connecting many City neighborhoods along the River from Fox Point to Olneyville,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “We look forward to building on this energy to better connect our diverse and multicultural communities in new and exciting ways through the arts and other imaginative programming.”

The Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts (WRGA) project demonstrates the potential for a permanent linear art park along the planned Woonasquatucket River Greenway extension that will better connect downtown to vibrant arts institutions and the diverse residential neighborhoods of Smith Hill, Valley and Olneyville. The project kick-off is funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town initiative and supports the City’s larger Woonasquatucket Vision Plan, a community-led plan for the thoughtful redevelopment of formerly polluted industrial sites that seeks to stimulate economic development and strengthen environmental and social resilience in the area.

“The Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts partnership showcases the immense talent of the resident artists and creative institutions as well as the River’s breathtaking beauty,” said Stephanie Fortunato, Director of the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism. “This creative placemaking project reinforces the already strong relationships between these neighborhood organizations while connecting residents and visitors with natural and cultural resources in the area.”


On Saturday, July 27th, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and its collaborators will stage multiple performances in both Spanish and English. After which, festival goers will be encouraged to participate in a walking procession along the Greenway to highlighting new visions for future arts investment and infrastructure ending at the WaterFire Arts Center for the closing party of FRINGEPVD. The Manton Avenue Project and Wilbury Theatre Group have worked with the history and built environment of the Woonasquatucket to create a series of performances (see event list below for dates and times).

“WaterFire Providence is proud to be the lead cultural partner with the City of Providence on this prestigious National Endowment of the Arts Our Town grant,” said Peter A. Mello, Managing Director and co-CEO of Waterfire Providence. “We are excited to join with the many other amazing creative organizations that call the Olneyville and Valley neighborhoods home. This project will attract even greater attention to the thriving arts scene in these neighborhoods by creating rich experiences that extend from downtown along the beautiful Woonasquatucket River into one of the most exciting areas of the City.”

Temporary public artworks along the Greenway have been commissioned by the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and its WRGA partners in collaboration with community representatives from the Olneyville neighborhood and the Art in City Life Commission. These include a site-specific lighting installation by WaterFire Providence, installations by Keri King and Brendan Rose, and sculptural animal habitats designed by artist Tim Ferland from The Steel Yard.

“The Steel Yard’s Public Projects team was able to create 20 sculptural native pollinator planters as part of this initiative, said Howie Sneider, Executive Director of The Steel Yard. “We were thrilled to work with all of the partners and are thankful for the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council who guided us through the rules and regulations that are in place to protect the river and to figure out creative solutions for installing functional artwork along the greenway.”

“For the last three years, the work of The Wilbury Group has been driven by a connection to our Olneyville neighborhood,” said Josh Short, Founder and Artistic Director of the Wilbury Theatre Group. “The support of the City and the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts project has given us an incredible opportunity to deepen that connection. We are extremely grateful to the City and the WRGA for helping us create these community partnerships with The Olneyville Expo and PVDFRINGE that we expect to continue long into the future.”

To join the procession, meet outside The Olneyville Expo tent in Donigian Park at 9:30pm, on Saturday July 27th. All participants are encouraged to wear light colored clothing and glow accessories, and to bring hand-held percussion instruments. The route crosses Valley Street on Amherst Street and turns left on Tuxedo Avenue before crossing Atwells Avenue where it links up with the existing Greenway extension. It continues around the Greenway through Eagle Square Plaza and across Eagle Street before continuing along Kinsely Avenue, left on Acorn Street, and back down the Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Trail on the north side of the River.



The full programming schedule for the Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts project is as follows:

  • July 22-27Wilbury Theatre Group is hosting the week-long FRINGEPVD festival, held at various locations throughout the neighborhood including the Wilbury Theatre, The Steel Yard and the WaterFire Arts Center.
  • July 25, 26, & 27The Olneyville Expo (part of Wilbury’s FRINGEPVD festival) is a theatrical event celebrating the history, culture and community of the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. There will be three performances, all starting at 7:00 pm, in Donigian Park (228 Valley Street) on July 25, 26, & 27. The Olneyville Expo will be simultaneously translated into Spanish.
  • July 27: WRGA procession from Donigian Park to the WaterFire Arts Center at 9:30 pm.
  • July 27: Wilbury Theatre Group and WaterFire Providence is hosting a Closing Party & Awards Ceremony (starting at 9:30 pm) to close out the 2019 FRINGEPVD Festival at the WaterFire Arts Center. 
  • July 27Nicholson File Studios (350 Kinsley Avenue bldg. 38) and The Wurks (45 Acorn Street) Open Studios from 3:00pm to 6:00pm
  • July 27The Manton Avenue Project offers processional performances of “Along The Banks of the Woony” twice. The first performance will begin at 3:00 pm at the Red Shed in Riverside Park (50 – 60 Aleppo Street) for bikers and continue at 4:00 pm at Family Fringe in Donigian Park (228 Valley St.) for non-bikers. The second performance will begin for bikers at 5:00 pm at the Red Shed, and continue at 6:00 pm at Family Fringe in Donigian Park for non-bikers.
  • July 8-28“Museum of the Moon,” a large art installation by English artist Luke Jerram, is a highly-detailed 23’ diameter Moon on display at the WaterFire Arts Center (475 Valley Street). The art installation is part of a larger series of events and exhibitions presented by the NASA RI Space Consortium in association with WaterFire Providence.
  • Ongoing: The Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery is a free public art installation in Olneyville Square. Since its inception in 2000, The Dirt Palace members have co-curated a monthly art installation in the gallery featuring the work of hundreds of local, national, and international artists, community groups, and youth arts programing. From October 2018 to July 2019, the artwork in the gallery has been curated specifically to reflect the river, its history, and future plans for the neighborhood greenway. Deborah Spears Moorehead – “Providence Preservation Society’s Sites and Stories of Parcel 1 A. Providence River from 1600 to Contemporary” are on view during the WRGA kickoff.

The Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism ensures the continued development of a vibrant and creative city by integrating arts and culture into community life while showcasing Providence as an international cultural destination. The Department envisions a Providence that is a global destination for arts, humanities, and design, where neighbors celebrate diverse cultural and artistic experiences, and where all residents and visitors feel that a relationship to arts practice, making, and culture is a part of their everyday lives.

WaterFire Providence inspires 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 has recently opened the award-winning WaterFire Arts Center alongside the Woonasquatucket River on Valley Street.  The Arts Center has already become a popular and lively destination.

The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council encourages, supports and promotes the restoration and preservation of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed as an environmental, recreational, cultural, and economic asset of the State of Rhode Island.

The Manton Avenue Project (MAP) nurtures the unique potential of young people in Olneyville by unleashing their creative voices and uniting them with professional artists to create original theater. Manton Avenue Project presents Along the Woony: The Bike Path Plays – a performance tour of The Woonasquatucket River Greenway.

The Steel Yard fosters creative and economic opportunities, by providing workspace, tools, training and education, while forging lasting links to a local tradition of craftsmanship. The Steel Yard has fabricated a series of site-specific animal habitats along the Woonasquatucket River.

The Dirt Palace is a self-organized collective that supports women artists by providing affordable studio space, facilities, shared resources, opportunities, a culture of cooperation and maintains visibility in the community through a committed public arts presence and long-term relationships. The Dirt Palace has presented a series of window installations and artist talks about the Woonasquatucket River at its location in Olneyville Square.

The Wilbury Theatre Group produces plays by artists on the cutting-edge of theatre and reimagined classics from the canon. The Wilbury Theatre Group presents The Olneyville Expo: A Chautauqua-Style Celebration of Olneyville Past, Present, and Future in Donigian Park.

National Endowment for the Arts: This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.