By EMMA BARTLETT
Cranston’s Lynne McCormack, 57, is the new director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). Announcement of her selection from 70 applicants was made …
By EMMA BARTLETT
Cranston’s Lynne McCormack, 57, is the new director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA). Announcement of her selection from 70 applicants was made Friday by Governor McKee and the RISCA board.
RISCA, a state agency, provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.
McCormack, who grew up in Boston in the 60s and 70s, always had an interest in art. She said it was genetic on both sides of the family since her dad was an architect and her uncle was a fine artist. She noted that today, her son and daughter, Brandon and Ana Chin, also have that artistic gene.
While she enjoyed drawing and creating things as a kid, McCormack also had an interest in government and served as Student Council President in high school. McCormack went on to RISD in the 80s and graduated with a bachelor’s in film, video and animation.
“From there, I really immersed myself in art making and the art world,” said McCormack. “I was interested in thinking of how to serve in government and serve the arts community.”
She stayed in Rhode Island after college and started working as an individual artist while becoming involved with an arts group that brought advocacy for arts and culture to Providence.
McCormack became involved with Providence’s Parks Department, making her way from a production coordinator to Director of Art, Culture and Tourism in Providence. For 18 years she worked for the city and put on festivals – such as the Convergence International Arts Festival – and created the first comprehensive cultural plan in 2009 for the city. According to Friday’s announcement, she also forged partnerships throughout government that resulted in a summer youth workforce development program, planning and zoning policy changes and increased funding for artists.
During this time, she got to know the city’s neighborhoods and RI arts scene, mentioning the larger organizations such as Trinity and the RI Philharmonic and the smaller neighborhood-based arts organizations.
McCormack is looking forward to being back in service to the artists and organizations and Rhode Island residents. Prior to the role of executive director, she served as the national program director of creative place making for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). According to a release, in this role, she led the integration of arts and culture into community development by creating programs, developing learning networks and supporting local LISC offices in leveraging over $30 million in loan funds towards cultural facilities and artist housing. At LISC, she was a founding member of the racial equity learning group and led diversity, equity, inclusion and justice initiatives on the economic development team. She’s excited to bring that perspective back to the state and work with the arts community and RISCA staff.
“Getting that national perspective solidified my understanding that RI is truly an arts and cultural mecca,” McCormack said. “While folks have different perspectives and differences, we know how to come together and make investments and change through arts and culture.”
She said the RISCA staff has done an amazing job creating innovative programs and making them more equitable in how dollars are distributed and get to communities.
As for initiatives she would like to pursue, McCormack said RISCA completed a strategic plan in the fall 2021 that was driven by community meetings and wants to discuss how to implement it. Additionally, she wants to talk about how RISCA will work with cities and towns to support development and create impact as they put arts and culture to work in different locations for goals of cohesion and economic vitality.
“On behalf of the State Arts Council, we are thrilled to welcome Lynne as the new Executive Director. After an exhaustive nationwide search, the search committee, which was made up primarily of members of the community, were so impressed with the work that Lynne has done nationally in assisting communities, especially those under-represented, through her work with LISC,” said Libby Slader, Chair of the State’s Arts Council. “Lynne's experience in the arts and especially her leadership centered on diversity, equity and inclusion make her the perfect person to assist the staff and the Council in executing the new strategic plan at RISCA.”
McCormack added that arts and culture bring people together. She said when the state holds large scale festivals, individuals come from all over, which creates social cohesion and cultural understanding that McCormack said reverberates in other parts of society.
“It gives people positive ways to learn about differences and celebrate beauty,” McCormack said.
Furthermore, arts education gives young people the chance to find their voice and who they are.
McCormack has lived in the Edgewood part of Cranston since 2010. Her children attended Rhodes Elementary School, Park View Middle School and Cranston High School East.
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