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FirstWorks Commissions Four Performance Projects From Rhode Island Artists


Works span dance, music, and theatrical genres and highlight FirstWorks' "Raise Your Voice" program theme.

FirstWorks Commissions Four Performance Projects From Rhode Island Artists

FirstWorks has announced the winners of its Fall 2020 call for local artist proposals; the organization will fund four performance projects to be showcased in 2021. The selected artists - Orlando Hernández and Vatic Kuumba; EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks with Piero Guimaraes and Jing Wang; Robb Dimmick and Ray Rickman; and Judith Lynn Stillman - represent a range of disciplines including dance, music, and theater.

"FirstWorks is committed to celebrating and nurturing the local arts community as part of our mission," said Kathleen Pletcher, Executive Artistic Director of FirstWorks. "We are thrilled to support these four outstanding projects and the brilliant Rhode Island creatives behind them."

The commissioning of the four works is FirstWorks' latest initiative to support Rhode Island's arts community, and speaks to the organization's commitment to local artists as essential partners and to supporting "firsts" in the arts. Offering platforms for local artists to create and present their work is a part of FirstWorks' "Raise Your Voice" programming, a thematic initiative that amplifies diverse voices and celebrates difference through the arts.

The selected projects for FirstWorks' commission opportunity are: Phantom Notes - Orlando Hernández (dancer) and Vatic Kuumba (theater artist); East Meets West - EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks (musician) with Piero Guimaraes (musician) and Jing Wang (musician); The Benefit of Black Women: Five Lives on Benefit Street - Robb Dimmick (artistic director) and Ray Rickman (producer); and Women Trailblazers - Judith Lynn Stillman (musician). The commission supports both the creation of new work and the adaptation of existing projects for the digital world. Projects will feature live and virtual components, culminating in public presentations during FirstWorks' 2021 season, with dates to be announced. Selected projects range in topic: from the legacies of slavery in Rhode Island, to East-meets-West cultural fusion; from stories of Black women in historical Providence, to powerhouse female composers.

Commissioned artists will also engage in FirstWorks' education programming, conducting virtual student workshops and providing digital education content. More information about FirstWorks' arts education offerings can be found at

This project is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act from the National Endowment for the Arts. This project is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

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