Providence, Rhode Island
Client / City of Providence, RI
Services / Policy

In early 2010, following the successful development of the City of Providence, Rhode Island’s cultural plan, Creative Providence: A Cultural Plan for the Creative Sector, AMS Planning & Research (AMS) was engaged by the city’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (AC+T), with funding from the Rhode Island Foundation, to assess the opportunity for efficiencies in operations, marketing and fundraising to address the sector’s need for more and diverse revenue streams.

Although AMS found interest in maximizing efficiencies through shared services, it became evident that more significant issues regarding the sustainability of the cultural sector needed to be addressed. In the summer of 2011, a revised approach, employing a sustainability analysis to assess sector health, was adopted. The intention of this revised approach was to develop a comprehensive understanding of the current state of the health and vitality of the sector. This understanding was necessary to establish priorities and develop benchmarks to assess future success.

The study focused on establishing the Providence arts and cultural sector’s current level of “vitality” in comparison to benchmark communities and recommending strategies to increase its vitality to sustainable levels. The approach consisted of the following tasks:

Situation Analysis

  1. Understanding Change: Identified key trends in the Providence arts and cultural sector over the past decade and articulated the evolution of the market itself
  2. Philanthropy for Arts and Culture: Identified national trends for philanthropic support.
  3. Cultural Vitality Model: Developed benchmarks to compare and contrast Providence to peer and aspirational communities in order to demonstrate the extent to which the community’s cultural sector is “right-sized” and adequately capitalized.

Recommended Goals and Strategies

  1. Implementation: Developed a framework of priorities, goals, and strategies for the Providence arts and cultural sector and recommended how AC+T can reassert its leadership role within the sector.

Over the course of the study, AMS and AC+T also conducted two planning roundtables, which brought together Providence arts leaders, business leaders and philanthropists.

AMS’s final recommendations, as well as an overview of all study results to date, were presented at a community meeting in October 2012.