Elevating the work of marginalized artists

Working to give voice to the range of diverse artists throughout the state, the Expansion Arts Program (EAP) – in partnership with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) – supports community-based organizations which serve culturally-specific populations. Through grant funding and technical assistance, Expansion Arts nurtures small and emerging organizations to develop their audiences, manage their finances, and strengthen their governance practices. By convening participants regularly, EAP also fosters connections between and among these organizations, supporting cross-cultural programming and encouraging collaboration. 

EAP organizations tend to serve multiple roles in their communities. Frequently, they work to preserve cultural traditions – through dance, music, and performance – that might not otherwise be maintained. Additionally, they develop opportunities to engage the broader cultural sector to reflect the arts and cultures of Rhode Island’s diverse population. 

Initially created in 1971 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Expansion Arts Program worked with state arts councils to support marginalized artists and cultural organizations. In 1985, the Rhode Island Foundation was awarded a grant through the NEA to create an endowment to serve consistently underfunded artists and communities. When the NEA discontinued their national funding of Expansion Arts, it is this commitment – through our endowment – that allowed us to sustain the EAP when most states could not. Through our unique funding partnership with RISCA and RICH, we are able to provide multi-year grant funding, as well as shared administrative support for these organizations, which typically run on only volunteer staff. 

As a state, we are strengthened by the diversity and resilience of our communities. By recognizing and addressing the unique needs of the organizations that preserve a range of cultural traditions, we work to elevate the multiple voices and experiences that define and enrich our state’s cultural offerings.

One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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