WaterFire in the Media

“A city that had fallen into ruin now burns brightly again thanks in part to WaterFire, a burgeoning festival that combines ritual, reverence, and urban vitality.”

The Elements of Providence by Carlo Rotella
Washington Post Magazine
September 17th, 2006

“If you haven’t experienced WaterFire, I urge you to come to Providence one of the nights that the fires burn. Thousands of people, from all walks of life, stroll the walkways that align Providence’s downtown rivers to contemplate and participate in this extraordinary work of public art and urban community.”

Barnaby Evans, WaterFire’s creator – a social entrepreneur igniting art and urban community by Gayle Gifford
Cause and Effect
August 27th, 2008

“Nothing prepared me for a powerful work of art – a living ritual in which fire, water, sound and smell all play a part to reduce you to awestruck silence and (in my case) tears of joy, all for free.”

My joyous baptism of fire… by Bel Mooney
The London Daily Mail
September 19, 2008

“Over twenty years of success, there have been three independent, professional evaluations of WaterFire’s economic impact.  The most recent is a 2012 study completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers using the IMPLAN modeling system.”

The Economic Impact of WaterFire Providence
US Army Corps of Engineers

“WaterFire is a place of temporary transformation. Temporarily, it transforms a city. Temporarily, it transforms the people who visit it. Temporarily it transforms fire into light, water into fire, and music into water. The dynamics by which these transformations occur are complex and tenuous, and must be protected through constant vigilance. It works because it is unlike other things and allows things to be unlike themselves. WaterFire is a treasured gift and must be guarded.”

WaterFire: Providence’s Epideictic Sublime by Jerry Blitefield
Jerry Blitefield, PhD, is Associate Professor of English and Director of English Graduate Programs at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“The gathering crowd is everyman and everywoman.  There are serene locals and boisterous tourists, warm families with enraptured children,ardent lovers, and silent mourners counting their memories and blessings.”

Elemental Alchemy (web version) by Laurencia Ciprus
October 2015

“Providence River Relocation is a transportation- and open space based project that grew out of a 30-year history of bold planning efforts undertaken by a series of public and private entities. Known formally as the Memorial Boulevard Extension Project, river relocation was intended to improve pedestrian and vehicular traffic flows in and through downtown and to reclaim Providence’s historic rivers, while setting the stage for an impressive public arts program (including the WaterFire events) and the dramatic revitalization of downtown.”

Providence River Location
2003 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence
Jay Farbstein FAIA, PhD with Emily Axelrod, MCP; Robert Shibley, AIA, AICP; and Richard Wener, PhD

“The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute, and Bloomberg Philanthropies hosted the inaugural “CityLab: Urban Solutions to Global Challenges,” from October 6-8, 2013, in New York City. The event brought together 300 global city leaders—more than 30 mayors, plus urban theorists, city planners, scholars, architects, and artists—for a series of conversations about urban ideas that are shaping the world’s metro centers.”

Cultural Investment: Creating Civic Identity Through Art from CITYLAB
Urban Solutions to Global Challenges October 6-8, 2013