Published: May 31, 2015 | Last Modified: May 31, 2015 01:00AM
By BROOKE CONSTANCE WHITE Special to The Sun
CHARLESTOWN — Lorén Spears, member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and executive director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, is one of four new members of the State Council on the Arts. The appointments by Gov. Gina Raimondo were approved recently by the state Senate.
The mission of the 13-member council is to act as a liaison to the arts community in the state while promoting and expanding the arts and providing art education opportunities. The council awards grants to artists, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and state agencies, and is supported by General Assembly appropriations and the National Endowment for the Arts
Spears said that one aspect of the council she is particularly excited to be part of is a “creative economy initiative” — a task in which artists and groups are asked to thoroughly document their impact within their community and state.
“The impact of the arts has always been an unknown but it’s been proven that the arts have tremendous impact on the community and economy as well as the vibrancy of that community,” Spears said. “The initiative works to empower diverse communities to engage the whole community into the creative economy.”
The Tomaquag Museum, which is dedicated to sharing and preserving Indigenous arts, culture, and history, has been the recipient of grants awarded by the council, so Spears said she thoroughly understands the importance of what the council does.
“It’s very important because the arts tells the story of a people,” she said. “We have new exhibits and offer interactions with traditional artists which has been broadened by the gamut of opportunities we’ve been given by the R.I. State Council on the Arts.”
Spears has a master’s degree in education from the University of New England. She is a traditional artist and teaches art classes both to the native community and general public.
“I am passionate about the arts and culture and I’m excited to be a part of this team, because the whole team is fantastic,” Spears said. “I hope that I will have a voice that will be positive in bringing new initiatives over the next three years. I think that more than anything, I want to support what they’ve already begun and continue to reach out to the arts and culture in the state as the arts impact not only the artists but the whole community and state.”
Other new members, all from Providence, are Kate Blacklock, an artist and teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design; Cameron Diaz-Jusino, program director of the Center for Women and Enterprise in Providence; and Michelle Kwan, the famous figure skater and State Department adviser.