Arts, Culture, and Humanities

WaterFire Providence

Providence, RI

Mission

WaterFire Providence's 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.

Notes from the Nonprofit

WaterFire has been a powerful catalyst for transforming place and building community. Nearly 1,000,000 come to Providence to experience art in a riverside urban park that would otherwise be dark and empty on most Saturday nights. On average 60,000 visitors and up to 100,000 visitors will attend with more than 1/2 traveling from outside RI. WaterFire activity creates $114,000,000 in economic output for the local economy which generates over $9,000,000 in direct ax revenue for RI and supports 1,294 jobs in the community. Equally important, WaterFire fosters a "pride of place" for RIers which is critically important to bring about positive change in the community.

Ruling Year

1989

Executive Artistic Director

Mr. Barnaby Evans

Managing Director

Mr. Peter A. Mello

Main Address

475 Valley Street

Providence, RI 02908 USA

Keywords

Public Art, Arts & Culture

EIN

22-2951612

 Number

1341929705

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Economic Development (S30)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Blog

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

WaterFire addresses a range of challenges in the community every year. The downtown WaterFire installation/event draws approximately 1,000,000 visitors a year and secures millions of new media impressions, hundreds of column inches in traditional print media and hours of local, national and international broadcast media painting Providence in a positive light and making the Creative Capital and Ocean State a top international art and cultural tourism destination. WaterFire is a community partner and powerful platform that effectively raises awareness of social issues that affect all Rhode Islanders: from “C is for Cure” WaterFire that supports RI Foundation Innovation Fellow Dr. Lynne Taylor’s RI Defeats Hep C major health initiative to Flames of Hope WaterFire for breast cancer awareness to WaterFire’s Salute to Veterans and, in 2019, a new WaterFire for Recovery, in partnership with RI Department of Health and Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

WaterFire

WaterFire Arts Center

Where we workNew!

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Total number of performances

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

General/Unspecified

Related program

WaterFire

Context notes

Total (full and partial) WaterFire lightings

Total number of guided tours given

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

General/Unspecified

Related program

WaterFire

Context notes

Launched guided walking tours of downtown Providence on WaterFire events days in 2018.

Number of paid participants of guided tours

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

General/Unspecified

Related program

WaterFire

Context notes

Launched guided walking tours of downtown Providence on WaterFire events days in 2018.

Total number of audience members

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

General/Unspecified

Related program

WaterFire

Context notes

Attendance as estimated by the US Army Corps of Engineers in a 2012 Economic Evaluation Report as part of a Dredging Feasibility Study.

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

WaterFire is in the middle of a major organizational transition as laid out in its strategic plan. Started in 2011 when Peter Mello was hired as managing director/coCEO to co-lead with founder/executive artistic director Barnaby Evans. In 2012, WaterFire met another key strategic objective by purchasing and rehabilitating an abandoned, historic building, prominently positioned on Valley streetscape on the gateway into the underserved Olneyville neighborhood. In 2017, WaterFire moved into the WaterFire Arts Center, the organization’s first permanent visible home, a multi-use arts and culture venue unlike any other in the region and a catalyst to further development in the neighborhood. WaterFire will continue navigating its strategic transition from an improvised arts event to a RI institution by expanding arts and culture programming in the WaterFire Arts Center and integrating it into and strengthening the WaterFire event downtown.

In 2019, WaterFire is planning a series of events and activities including: launching of a lecture series on Creative Placemaking and Public Art; a temporary lighting installation (July) on the Woonasquatucket River in Olneyville as lead nonprofit partner with the City of Providence on a NEA Our Town grant; organizing WaterFire for Recovery (September), in partnership with Departments of Health and BHDDH to celebrate the 30th anniversary of National Recovery Month and raising awareness of the opioid epidemic that plagues so many RI communities; and collaborating with The Wheeler School in launching Cityside, a groundbreaking 8th grade community-based, experiential education program in the WaterFire Arts Center (September). 2019 is an important year in continuing to build on the successes of WaterFire strategic transition by leveraging investments previously made.

WaterFire has been doing important creative placemaking work in our community for nearly 25 years and during this time has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and ArtPlace America, among many others, as a leader in the field. WaterFire’s community connections run deep and wide and its partnerships make its work more diverse and stronger. Over the past 8 years, WaterFire Providence has been lead by the coCEO team of Barnaby Evans, Founder and Executive Artistic Director, and Peter Mello, Managing Director. Paul Kochanek, Director of Events and Operations is a 15 year veteran of the senior management team while Laura Duclos, Creative Services Manager and also a member of senior staff, has been with the organization for 10 years. WaterFire Arts Center has rapidly become an important community resource hosting a wide variety of meetings and events including the City of Providence’s Public Art Master Plan Community Workshop and Woonasquatucket Vision Planning meetings.

We use visitor surveys, after action reports and focus groups to gather information and feedback on a variety of initiatives. We review hotel occupancy reports to measure the impact of WaterFire events. We monitor and analyze year to year ticket sales for the PVD Fringe Festival and the number and type of events hosted in the WaterFire Arts Center to measure progress on our goals.

Over the past 24 years more than 15,000,000 people have come to Providence to experience the art of WaterFire. We are constantly experimenting and iterating to keep the event fresh for tourists and RI citizens alike. Over the course of the season we work with hundreds of artists and dozens of community organizations, integrating their programming into the event and giving them a platform to reach much larger and more diverse audiences than they could on their own. In 2017 WaterFire moved into the WaterFire Arts Center, its first permanent visible home in the community and a new multi-use arts center that host exhibitions, performances and events of all kinds. As called for by our strategic plan, WaterFire is in the middle of an important transition from from an improvised arts event to a Rhode Island institution in an effort to sustain and increase our proven economic and cultural impacts for the community.

External Reviews

Photos

Financials

WaterFire Providence

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to view a Sample Report.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

No

Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Gender

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Part-Time Staff.

Race & Ethnicity

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.

Disability

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Senior Staff, Full-Time Staff and Part-Time Staff.

Diversity Strategies

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We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
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We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
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We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
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We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
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We have a diversity committee in place
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We have a diversity manager in place
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We have a diversity plan
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We use other methods to support diversity