Voters say “yes” to Question 2, a new Art Center for RIC

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo presents a cake to RIC faculty, staff and students in celebration of the passing of the bond referendum to renovate the college's Art Center.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo presents a cake to RIC faculty, staff and students in celebration of the passing of the bond referendum to renovate the college's Art Center.
Nov. 3 was cause for celebration at Rhode Island College as news spread of the previous day’s election tallies where voters approved bond referendum #2 that authorizes the state to issue $17 million to renovate the college’s decades-old Art Center. The referendum also included $61 million for a new chemistry building at URI.

Bejeweled support: RIC President Nancy Carriuolo wears
a pendant that she made in support of the Question 2 bond
referendum. The approved bond authorizes the state to
give $17 million to RIC to finance the renovation and
expansion of Rhode Island College's 52-year-old Art Center.
“The Board Of Governors is grateful to the citizens of Rhode Island for their vote of confidence in support of public higher education. URI and RIC will now be better equipped to continue to provide a first class education to our students. Rhode Islanders' support for, and investment in, public higher education will continue to help us play a significant role in our state's efforts to rebuild its economy,” said Ray DiPasquale, the state’s commissioner of higher education.

The ballot question passed with 55 percent voter approval, showing a solid win.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo observed that creative thought, which is stimulated by study of the arts, has long given rise to inventions and innovations associated with the ingenuity of Americans.

Carriuolo said, “We thank Rhode Island’s voters for providing funding. The renovated facility will support and encourage the creativity of our college’s talented students and faculty. “

The upgraded Art Center will include a wrap-around addition and space for offices, classrooms, art studios, workshops, a library, photography and computer labs, and presentation areas. It will also centralize the art program that is now scattered around campus.

Renovations are expected to begin next spring and completed in about 18 months.

“It’s actually going to happen, I can’t wait to see it,” said a jubilant Esther Laflamme, a sophomore at RIC majoring in graphic design.

Sophomore Jillian Eisenberg, added that, “I think we as students will be more motivated and more successful because of it.”

The current Art Center, constructed in 1958, was intended as a student center, dining hall, bookstore and college library. The building was converted into the Art Center in 1971 to include classrooms, studios and faculty offices. With diminished capacity and antiquated facilities, it is no longer suitable for present-day studio art training and education.

RIC offers accredited programs in ceramics, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, metalsmithing and jewelry design, sculpture, art history, art education and media studies, with bachelor of art and fine arts in studio art, BA in art history, BS, MA and MAT degrees in art education, and MA in media studies.

Approximately 2,000 students a year take classes in the Art Center.

Art professor Stephen Fisher, who has taught at the college for 21 years, said that, “it will be nice to have a building doing what it’s supposed to.”

If voters had not approved the bond, RIC would have been forced to spend about $1 million for immediate repairs simply to keep the building operational. The bond will ensure that the college no longer incurs expensive annual repairs to an antiquated building.

“The college expresses its heartfelt appreciation to everyone who supported the bond, including the RIBGHE, OHE, and the legislature, as well as campaign donors such as the SCG, the RIC-AFT, the RIC-PSA, the RIC Foundation, and the RIC Alumni Association, and a long list of other supporters such as the part-time faculty union and the students, administration, faculty and staff,” Carriuolo said. “It was a successful community effort."