Conversations | Meet an #ArtistHotline Partner: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA)

Conversations | Meet an #ArtistHotline Partner: Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA)

“The feeling of cross-country connectedness and mutual support…is something #ArtistHotline really fosters.” – Mollie Flanagan, RISCA

#ArtistHotline, a monthly Artist’s Professional Development Day on Twitter, aims to create an ongoing online conversation around the professional side of artistic practice. On the third Wednesday of each month, artists, arts professionals, and a wide range of arts service and cultural organizations take to Twitter to ask and share arts career advice.

As part of a new series highlighting the invaluable role that partnering organizations play in #ArtistHotline each month, we spoke with Mollie Flanagan, Individual Artists Program Director at Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). RISCA serves as a catalyst for the advancement, appreciation, and promotion of excellence in the arts by encouraging leadership, participation, and education in the arts for all Rhode Islanders.

Below, Flanagan shares tips for artists on utilizing their state arts councils, as well as her thoughts on the connections made possible by #ArtistHotline. Artists, be sure to join #ArtistHotline each month to get advice from representatives of arts organizations like Flanagan. Just include the hashtag #ArtistHotline in each related tweet, and find RISCA tweeting @risca1967.


NYFA: What upcoming opportunities or resources is RISCA offering?

Mollie Flanagan: Since we’re a state agency, we’re really focused on serving Rhode Island artists and the residents of our tiny state. Our next grant application deadline is October 2, 2017, and includes project based grants for organizations, healthcare institutions, education, and individuals, as well as fellowships in painting, drawing & printmaking, music composition, choreography, new genres, and our design innovation grant. One of my favorite things about RISCA is how much funding support we have for individual artists. 

On the professional development side, we just launched a series of workshops for individual artists in September. The first one focused on social media; up next, we have a workshop about budgeting and tracking finances that will take place on November 13, 2017. We also have a pretty active blog where we post any calls for artwork, arts jobs based in Rhode Island, and funding opportunities that we come across, as well as information about past grant recipients, stories about the impact of the arts on Rhode Islanders, and more.

NYFA: What have you most enjoyed about participating in #ArtistHotline?

MF: I first learned about #ArtistHotline when I was researching professional development and business training for artists for the Tremaine Foundation while I was in graduate school. Sometimes it feels like these questions about how to make a life making art are too hard, or that they can only be answered by experts at the front of a packed room, or seem too overwhelming to even ask. So I love the directness and immediacy of #ArtistHotline—the people seeking and giving advice are connected in the moment. I love how questions get answered collaboratively, that everyone’s experience and knowledge builds to give several viewpoints and ideas, that we are figuring it out together. I always see answers that surprise me, solutions or perspectives that never would have occurred to me. Twitter really helps position everyone as an expert, so each person’s experiences are valid and can be helpful for someone asking a question. The feeling of cross-country connectedness and mutual support is something I really value, and something #ArtistHotline really fosters.

NYFA: How can an artist best utilize their state arts council?

MF: Most state arts councils are doing an incredible amount of work for their budget and number of staff, so we aren’t always great at really getting the word out about everything that’s happening or how we operate. So make sure you are signed up for state arts council’s e-newsletter, and are following them on social media. Secondly, take the time to get to know the staff as much as you can. If we know you and your work, we are able to remind you or tell you about funding opportunities, events, and workshops, connect you with other artists, and recommend your work when we are inevitably asked about artists in the area. Even though there is no way for me to make it to the large number of performances, shows, openings and other events, I love knowing what “my” artists are doing, so I always ask artists to add me to their email and newsletter lists. Staying connected means you will know about any new programs, that you will get reminders about grant deadlines, and that you will generally be more connected to the arts community in your state.


Mollie Flanagan is the Individual Artists Program Director at the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She has an MFA in Arts Entrepreneurship and Management from Arizona State University with a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. She was the inaugural Tremaine Fellow in Arts Entrepreneurship, in which capacity she conducted research about arts specific business training across the United States. In addition to her work as an administrator, Mollie works as a lighting designer, production manager, and stage manager in the performing arts. Her work includes several years as the lighting designer at the Musical Instrument Museum’s music theater, production managing for a touring contemporary dance company based in San Francisco, and working in various capacities on large site specific theater projects.

– Interview Conducted by Mirielle Clifford, Program Officer, Online Resources

This post is part of a regular series highlighting the arts service organizations that participate in #ArtistHotline. Inspired by the NYFA Source Hotline, #ArtistHotline is an initiative dedicated to creating an ongoing online conversation around the professional side of artistic practice. #ArtistHotline occurs on the third Wednesday of each month on Twitter. Our goal is to help artists discover the resources needed, online and off, to develop sustainable careers.

This initiative is supported by the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.

Images, from top: RISCA Executive Director Randy Rosenbaum welcomes guests to RISCA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Rhode Island State House, photo: Lewis Place; The 14th Annual Sherlock Memorial Art Show reception, with work by artists with disabilities in partnership with VSA Arts Rhode Island, photo: courtesy RISCA

Amy Aronoff
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