Home to the famous Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and a staunch supporter of the arts, the City of Providence has become a haven for artists and entertainers. With the largest number of working artists in the country, Providence boasts an eclectic mix of galleries, theaters and museums.
The city's Arts and Entertainment District has bloomed, thanks largely to tax incentives offered to artists who chose to live and/or work in the area. The district, which includes several art galleries and performance spaces, is anchored by AS220, an alternative arts performance, studio and living space with regular performances, readings and gallery exhibits.
The performing arts are also a big part of Providence culture, led by Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company. Music lovers will enjoy the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Opera Providence. Theatergoers can enjoy performances from companies such as the Perishable Theater and the Gamm Theater in nearby Pawtucket. For dance enthusiasts, there is the Festival Ballet Providence and the Groundwerx Dance Theatre.
Two impressive venues, the gold-gilded Providence Performing Arts Center and Veterans Memorial Auditorium, are not only historic landmarks, but also feature Broadway musicals, children's performances, popular seasonal ballets, opera, plays and musical concerts. The Dunkin Donuts Center draws big name performers and shows from around the world.
Much of the visual arts influence in Providence can be attributed to the influence of RISD, one of the nation's top art universities. RISD's Museum of Art houses more than 80,000 works of art, ranging from Greek sculpture to French Impressionist paintings, Chinese terracotta to contemporary multimedia art. The Museum's Pendleton House is the earliest example of an "American wing" in any museum; it features an extraordinary collection of 18th century American decorative art. Their latest addition, the stunning Chace Center, has allowed the museum to showcase more of its vast collection.
One local artist, Barnaby Evans, has created WaterFire Providence, a multi-sensory experience that has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city. This series of bonfires installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence entices with aromatic wood smoke, flickering firelight and the enchanting music. The event occurs several times a month from May to October and has become a "must see" for visitors to the city.
Perhaps one of the most popular regular arts events in providence is Gallery Night. More than 20 local galleries and museums in Providence have banded together to create the monthly event. On the third Thursday of each month (March through November), a free bus loops throughout the city and stops at participating galleries, art shops and museums for visitors to experience Providence's arts scene.
Providence is also home to leading arts figures like Chris Van Allsburg, author of The Polar Express and Jumanji, and Paula Vogel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.