Governor McKee Announces $2.9 Million in Placemaking Grants to Support Outdoor and Public Space Capital Improvement, Event Programming

Governor McKee continued his #RIMomentum Tour on Federal Hill joined by Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, members of the General Assembly, Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner, Executive Director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association Rick Simone, and members of the business and arts communities to announce $2.9 million in grants to support the tourism, hospitality, and events industries in Rhode Island with a focus on developing outdoor and public space capital improvements or event programming.

The RI Rebounds Placemaking Program is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. The Placemaking initiative builds upon another RI Rebounds program, HTE direct grant program, which has disbursed more than $6 million in grants to more than 150 severely impacted businesses in the hospitality, tourism, and events industries.

“We’re building on Rhode Island’s momentum by making strategic investments in the tourism, hospitality and events industries by supporting projects that draw visitors to communities and businesses that were impacted by the pandemic,” said Governor McKee. “It’s all about bringing people back together in places that are meant to serve as hubs of activity. In a state like Rhode Island, our size is to our advantage – you can be at the beaches of South County in the morning and on Federal Hill for dinner by the evening. We want people to capitalize on the fact that you can be anywhere in Rhode Island in just about an hour. It’s an attractive destination that offers so much to do in not just a weekend, but a day.”

Placemaking, event programming, and outdoor and public space capital improvements under this initiative include activities designed to draw visitors to impacted districts and support businesses in the tourism and hospitality industries which have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of projects include public art installations, public or co-shared outdoor space, maintenance/improvements to public outdoor performances/event venues. Additionally included as examples under this program are catalytic events and maintaining/improving public parks, plazas, and/or recreational areas, and updating relevant signage promoting outdoor public spaces in tourist regions.

“Our public spaces are the heart of our cities and towns, and businesses and residents alike need them to be vibrant,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “These grants will help restore and improve parks, beaches, and main streets across Rhode Island. I am already looking forward to joining our neighbors at the celebrations that these grants will make possible.

“As Rhode Island continues to recover from the economic effects of the COVID -19 pandemic, the Placemaking Program will bring needed support to the hospitality, tourism, and events industries in Rhode Island”, said Secretary of Commerce Liz Tanner. “Today we celebrate 32 creative proposals from municipalities improving public infrastructure to festivals, events, and concerts to outdoor Salsa Nights, and holiday celebrations. There is something here for every Rhode Islander to enjoy.”

Eligible applicants to this program include nonprofit organizations, chambers of commerce, municipalities, business cooperatives, tourism regions, and arts/cultural institutions. To be eligible under this program, an organization must demonstrate the manner in which its proposal will aid the tourism and hospitality industries that have been negative impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following projects were funded:


Town of Smithfield – To construct an outdoor amphitheater, stage, electrical work, landscaping, a restroom facility, and garbage receptacles in addition to family friendly summer and early fall programming. – Grant amount: $150,000

City of East Providence – To implement the recently completed citywide interpretive signage plan for the City’s 31 historic resources. Funding would support research, writing, image acquisition and graphic production for signage. – Grant amount: $75,000

City of East Providence – For the capital investment of lighting including receptacles along the East Bay Bike Path to enable small and large events to be held in the evening hours. This request is also for the procurement of a portable stage, portable audio system, and two pop-up Canopies. These elements can also be used throughout the City to support additional events that will bring tourism and revenue to support other local establishments. – Grant amount: $75,000

City of Cranston – To finalize construction drawings and construct an ADA accessible gazebo in Knightsville Pocket Park. – Grant amount: $150,000

Town of Cumberland – To improve Diamond Hill Park amphitheater purchase lighting and sound equipment and create a portable stage. – Grant amount: $150,000

Town of Glocester – To construct a large, covered picnic area with tables for outdoor seating to supplement restaurant outdoor dining and a small parking area to facilitate accessibility and wayfinding signage. – Grant amount: $150,000

Town of Bristol – To support the design and construction of an outdoor performance stage at Bristol’s Town Beach and Sports Complex. – Grant amount: $150,000

City of Woonsocket – To demolish and rebuild the existing stage that is located at World War II Memorial Park. – Grant amount: $150,000

Friends of Linden Place Mansion – For lights to expand outdoor programming. Funding request also includes benches for outdoor spaces, project management, audio tour creation of the gardens and grounds, audio tour script development, and installation of power throughout the gardens. – Grant amount: $34,536.38


Town of South Kingstown – For design, installation, and future maintenance of an outdoor public art piece in conjunction with the Town’s 300th Anniversary Celebration. – Grant amount: $150,000

The City of Providence Department of Art Culture & Tourism (ACT) – To create three immersive cultural heritage installations along Broad Street in Providence. – Grant amount: $75,000

Partnership for Providence Parks, Recreation Centers, and Streetscapes – To build ARTCarts that will promote creativity and facilitate placemaking by attracting residents of Providence back into the public spaces, neighborhoods, and businesses around them. – Grant amount: $61,691.10

The Avenue Concept – For temporary lighting events , permanent public art light in downtown Providence, as part of the Three Nights of Light Providence experience. Project will align with two other events-based projects recommended for funding below: Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau and WaterFire Arts Center. – Grant amount: $152,500

South County Tourism Council – To create public art trail, with art focused on sustainability set up in rural locations near Blackstone Valley throughout South County. – Grant amount: $50,000


City of Central Falls-Blackstone Valley Tourism – For funding of a food truck festival, salsa dance night, 4th of July celebration, a river cleanup program, car show. – Grant amount: $42,150

Town of North Providence – To expand their Centredale Village Festival, successfully hosted in 2021, a three-day festival that attracted a crowd of approximately 500 each day to the Smith Street corridor. – Grant amount: $150,000

Town of Lincoln -To improve and expand programming amenities at Chase Farm and to expand public event programming to consist of outdoor events throughout the year. Expanded events include second annual Memorial Day Parade and Post-Parade, a weekend Farmer’s Market, Fall Festival, and Holiday Tree Decoration and Lighting Festival. – Grant amount: $26,423

WaterFire Arts Center – For 3 nights of light to take place December 1-3, 2022. Funding would support activation of basin for 3 nights of WaterFire and additional illumination/activation of the State House. Project will align with two other events-based projects recommended for funding below: Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau and Avenue Concept. – Grant amount: $86,250

Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau – To develop citywide Three Nights of Lights to take place from Dec 1-3, 2022 in partnership with WaterFire (also Placemaking applicant) and The Avenue Concept (also Placemaking applicant). Funding request is for advertising, collateral production, and public relations. Project will align with two other events-based projects recommended for funding below: Avenue Concept and WaterFire Arts Center. – Grant amount: $40,000

NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley – To expand Levitt AMP Woonsocket Music Series, now entering its 5th season. The initiative will expand the 10 weeks of diverse, free, live music, to include extensive food offerings, a vendor fair, cultural activities, youth activities, and other opportunities to engage small businesses. – Grant amount: $15,000

Federal Hill Commerce Association – For Christmas on the Hill event spanning December 1-31, 2022, with the aim of expanded dining and retail footprint for restaurants and retailers in a month that is vital to closing out the calendar year in a positive way. Request includes staffing, production, performers and other equipment, trolleys, signage, and marketing. – Grant amount: $133,200

Wilbury Theatre Group – To support the production of outdoor performances at the 9th annual Providence Fringe Festival, July 17-30, 2022. – Grant amount: $59,235.78

Grow Smart RI -To develop and present a series of professional and community education workshops, events, and materials that will increase the capacity of local organizations and individuals to implement a variety of placemaking strategies in traditional commercial districts that support Rhode Island’s tourism and hospitality industries. – Grant amount: $36,206

Dirt Palace Public Projects – To create Post Pandemic Picnics, which will focus on public art, preservation, poetry, and music. – Grant amount: $87,492

East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce – For a series of outdoor events (new and proposed enhanced existing) as an extension of the work that the Chamber has done for many years, particularly during 2020 and 2021 to enhance the East Greenwich business community. – Grant amount: $44,840

Newport County Development Council – To deliver a range of one-day to series events including hosting the Aquidneck Growers Market, Broadway Street Fair, and Outdoor Art Biennial Exhibition. – Grant amount: $88,358.64

Rhode Island Zoological Society (Roger Williams Park Zoo) – To enhance outdoor Holiday Light Spectacular (HOLS) event for 2022 and beyond, all designed to attract additional new visitors to the zoo’s HOLS event from Rhode Island and visiting states. – Grant amount: $59,989.95

Firstworks – For two Urban Carnevale projects to activate Providence public spaces, the bandstand at Roger Williams Park and Downton Providence (via video projections). – Grant amount: $138,338

Island Moving Company – To expand reach and help to produce the Newport Dance Festival. – Grant amount: $77,280


Hope Street Merchant Association – To continue beautification projects and to bring back revenue generating events including landscaping, outdoor pop-up spaces, small business Saturday valet parking, marketing and public relations, neighborhood decorative initiative, and a holiday winter stroll. – Grant amount: $96,600

The Providence Foundation – For an initiative focused on activating 8 parks in downtown Providence and creating planned programming in those spaces. – Grant amount: $132,000

Woonsaquatucket River Watershed Council – For pocket parks, greenspace amenities, public art tours, and river based events. – Grant amount: $75,000



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