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What's New at BRT

Updated March, 2011 - Check back for bi-monthly updates!

Look for the Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival on June 18, 2011!

It's definite! We have been working hard to bring back a major festival event in 2011 and we are committed to make it happen. With the move from July to the third week of June, we are rebranding the event the Blackstone River Theatre Summer Solstice Festival. Thanks to our incredible patrons, we have already raised $5,000 in private donations! BRT's goal is to raise another $3,000 in private donations by early June, as well as raising at least $12,000 in corporate support. We are thrilled to announce that Navigant Credit Union has pledged $2,000 to the festival as a challenge grant to other local businesses! We are truly building momentum - please donate today! The festival will feature five stages of entertainment as well as food and craft vendors... we are actively seeking craft vendors so let us know if you are interested! The event will be held at at Diamond Hill Park, Rte. 114, in Cumberland, R.I. and will feature: Annalivia • Atwater-Donnelly Trio • Burning Bridget Cleary • Aoife Clancy • Fellswater • Genticorum • The Gnomes • Matt & Shannon Heaton • Robbie O'Connell • Pendragon • Triple Spiral and more!

  • THANK YOU! Despite the still-challenging economy (and the incredible success of Boston's four sports teams!), Blackstone River Theatre saw more than 6,100 audience members attend 95 concerts, dances, classes and private functions in 2010! September, 2010, marked the 10-year anniversary of the reopening of Blackstone River Theatre after more than four years of volunteer renovation efforts from July, 1996 to September, 2000. Since reopening, BRT has now presented more than 1,050 events in front of more than 67,000 audience members!
  • BRT now sends out UPCOMING EVENT E-MAILS! We will send out once-a-week emails via Constant Contact on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. You can sign up at the theater itself or simply add your email address on the top of any page on our web site. Unfortunately, we had to stop mailing out printed schedules through the mail as a cost-cutting decision. However, you can still pick up flyers at BRT shows, see our ad and listings in Motif Magazine, or pick up The Valley Breeze, Sun Chronicle or Woonsocket Call which all provide excellent coverage of BRT events on a weekly basis.
  • BRT continues to host more and more private events... fund-raisers, celebrations, public forums and more. We are looking to add WiFi access, a 9 x 12 screen and a projector along with other items to cater to corporate/business meetings in 2011...Please call 401-725-9272 if you are interested in booking your function!
  • BRT's Winter/Spring 2011 season will see two levels of Irish step dance with our new instructor Erika Damiani, five levels of fiddle instruction with Cathy Clasper-Torch, a mandolin class with Ben Pearce, and classes in clogging and mountain dulcimer with Aubrey Atwater. Visit the classes link for full information and descriptions!
  • From February 26 through March 31, BRT's Art Gallery will feature an exhibit called "Three Mile Radius" by Steve Mason.
  • Blackstone River Theatre is a proud member of the organization RI Citizens for the Arts. We encourage you to check them out and get involved as there is always very important work to be done in the arts community, especially in the face of drastic cuts to arts funding (see info below).

Blackstone River Theatre's new stage and lighting are installed!

When Blackstone River Theatre celebrated our 10th anniversary this September, we were able to do it on our brand new stage! In February, we began a special fund-raising campaign to raise $8,000 to purchase a new stage as well as a new, energy-efficient back lighting system. Navigant Credit Union generously jumpstarted fundraising efforts by giving a $1,500 "challenge grant" in hopes of getting other local companies to help BRT in this very important initiative. In short order, our friends at Open MRI of New England donated another $1,000, the BRV Heritage Corridor donated $500 and you, our patrons, donated another $5,000 in just four months! This will allow BRT to continue to put on the high caliber programming that we strive to present. THANK YOU!

Thank you members of Americorps NCCC Badger 1 team!

Blackstone River Theatre was very fortunate to benefit from the efforts of Americorps NCCC, Badger 1 team. The 9-member group of young men and women were in Cumberland for four weeks through early May, beautifying many spots around town and BRT is excited to have been one of them! You can see many improvements, both indoor and outdoors at the theatre as a result of their efforts! A big thank you to: Ryan Perket, Christian Adams, Bob Barker, Jamie Casterton, Chelsea Lamberson, Paige Miller, Jonathan Rhoades, Chris Watt, and Ramona Dowdell.

Rhode Island's artists AND arts supporters score a victory...but there's more to do!

Governor's Carcieri's FY 2011 budget was a wake up call to the creative community. If enacted, these cuts would have had a devasting effect on the creative community and beyond. This proposal was to eliminate the public art program, the film tax credit and discretionary grant funds, a total cut of 58% causing a severe hit to the many arts and cultural institutions in our state that enliven our cities and towns, attract businesses and jobs, hire locally, buy locally and contribute largely to our economic well-fare. As a member of Rhode Island Citizens for the Arts, Blackstone River Theatre urges YOU to become aware of exactly what is at stake in the arts community and TAKE ACTION! We are very excited that the Senate and the House voted to restore funding to the Arts in the FY11 budget! But the battle is always ongoing...We urge you to visit the Rhode Island Citizens For the Arts web site at: Don't sit on the sidelines! When arts money goes away, it seldom comes back and quite simply, its effects can last a lifetime...

Older but still noteable news!

Blackstone River Theatre 1 of 18 R.I. Arts Organizations to receive stimulus funds

Cumberland's Blackstone River Theatre is one of 18 Rhode Island nonprofits to receive a grant as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a federal stimulus program designed to aid in the economic recovery of our state and nation. Pictured at the July 27 press announcement held at the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School in East Providence are, from left, Governor Donald L. Carcieri; Robert Drouin, Chair of Blackstone River Theatre; Russell Gusetti, executive director of Blackstone River Theatre; Congressman Patrick Kennedy; Congressman Jim Langevin; and Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Blackstone River Theatre was one of four northern Rhode Island arts groups to receive a grant and was awarded $25,000 to protect the position of the Executive Director.

These federal stimulus grants for the arts are designed to support arts organizations who contribute to the economic, educational and cultural vitality of local communities throughout the state. The grants are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a federal stimulus program designed to aid in the economic recovery of our state and nation. This arts component is part of a $50 million investment in the arts through the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. A grant of $291,500 was awarded in May to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts to support a state component of this program. With $291,500 in federal stimulus funds and the additional $100,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation, 18 Rhode Island arts organizations will benefit from this infusion of funds designed to retain or restore jobs in the arts during this economically-challenging time.

Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, reported that this was a very difficult process given the challenges that all arts organizations face during this economic downturn. Fifty-two organizations applied for federal stimulus support, with requests totaling $1,341,500.


PAWTUCKET - The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council today announced that the regional tourism agency and Governor Donald L. Carcieri will present the Governor's Blackstone Valley Regional Tourism Award to the Cumberland, RI-based Blackstone River Theatre. The Governor, along with BVTC President Robert D. Billington, will present the organization their award during the 20th annual Rhode Island Tourism Unity Luncheon and Travel Exchange, being held Wednesday, May 11, at the RI Convention Center, Providence.

In 2005, the Rhode Island Tourism Division and the state's tourism districts will honor "Rhode Island's great attractions" with the regional awards. "As the BVTC also celebrates our 20th anniversary, one of our objectives is to focus on the importance that the arts and cultural presentation has on interpreting our Valley's proud and diverse heritage. The Blackstone River Theatre is one of the centerpieces that offers residents, as well as visitors, a unique way to learn about our quality of life through cultural entertainment," said BVTC President Robert D. Billington in announcing the award to Blackstone River Theatre.

In accepting the award, Russell Gusetti, Managing Director for Blackstone River Theatre said, "We are extremely honored to be singled out with this award. As an organization that has presented groundbreaking cultural arts and entertainment in the region for the last five years, it's very gratifying to be recognized for making interpretive arts and cultural entertainment a vital part of our audience's lives. We will continue to highlight the cultural significance that our performers and their diverse ethnic backgrounds have contributed to the communities we serve throughout the Blackstone River Valley."


BRT Managing Director Russell Gusetti and Kathy Hartley and John Scanlon of Lincoln's Hearthside were awarded The Valley Breeze's Inaugural Award for Historic Preservation. The award ceremony was held at the Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland on June 9, 2005. Gusetti and President of Friends of Hearthside, Kathy Hartley, and Vice President, John Scanlon, received the newspaper's first "Good Neighbor Awards" which was developed by The Breeze to recognize citizens of the community whose efforts benefit the Blackstone Valley and its people, but who may be largely overlooked outside of the Blackstone Valley itself.