RISCA leader Rosenbaum to retire at year’s end

PROVIDENCE – Randall Rosenbaum has been in charge of the R.I. State Council on the Arts for nearly three decades and has helped build support for an arts sector that has contributed more than $2 billion annually toward the state’s economy.

At year’s end, he’ll call it a career.

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The council announced Thursday that Rosenbaum will retire at the end of this year after serving 27 years as RISCA’s executive director. Since arriving to the Ocean State in 1995 from Pennsylvania, Rosenbaum, RISCA said, helped the council increase its funding by more than 800%.

The council also said that Rosenbaum expanded programs for artists, nonprofit arts organizations, schools and teaching artists, as well as created the Cultural Facilities Grant program which received $30 million in bond support. Public galleries at state facilities, such as Rhode Island TF Green International and Block Island airports, and RISCA took charge of commissioning official portraits for all elected governors since Lincoln Chafee under Rosenbaum’s leadership.

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RISCA also in 2004 brought aboard the R.I. Film and Television Office and hired Steven Feinberg as its director, the council said, which helped attracted film and television productions to the state.

Most recently, RISCA has been at the forefront of supporting artists that were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. RISCA, under Rosenbaum’s leadership, announced multiple grant funding initiatives to assist artists and nonprofits alike recover from the pandemic.

In a statement, Rosenbaum said the state is blessed to have some of the world’s best artistic talent based here. “Traditional artists, master weavers, painters, theater artists, writers, photographers, musicians, dancers, and so on – Rhode Island has it all,” Rosenbaum said. “It has been an honor to support their work over these past 27 years.”

Gov. Daniel J. McKee said in a statement described Rosenbaum as a true professional, a passionate advocate for artists and organizations, and a champion for the state’s art’s and culture sector.

“On behalf of the state of Rhode Island, I thank him for his lengthy service, especially during the pandemic, when Randy’s devotion and dedication to this important economic sector ensured that the hard-hit arts and cultural organizations and workers had the resources they needed to stay afloat,” McKee said.

RISCA said its board will announce a search for a new executive director shortly.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.