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WaterFire Providence Announces the Launch of ArtLab@WaterFire

Fellows with Governor Dan Mckee
2023 ArtLab@WaterFire Fellows with Governor Dan McKee at the 2023 Strike the Match WaterFire lighting. Photograph by Caitlin McDonough.

 ArtLab@WaterFire is a paid internship program for highschool-aged BIPOC youth

WaterFire Providence announces the launch of WaterFire’s latest workforce development program, ArtLab@WaterFire. ArtLab@WaterFire is a year-long, paid internship and mentorship program for BIPOC male high school students to develop professional skills in the arts and culture industry. Led by Program Coordinator, Grechel Rosado and Peter Mello, Managing Director + coCEO, the program officially launched in January of 2023 in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Providence.

“ArtLab@WaterFire is one of the newest additions to the array of programs offered at the WaterFire Arts Center. This program is a continuation of WaterFire Providence’s investment in the community, following the successful launch of WaterFire Accelerate, a year-long professional development for artists under 30. We extend our gratitude to the Boys and Girls Club of Providence, artist and educator Scott Lapham, and the Papitto Opportunity Connection for their invaluable support and guidance in the development of this program. Without their assistance, ArtLab@WaterFire would not have been possible.” says Peter A. Mello, Managing Director + coCEO.  

“ArtLab@WaterFire aims to instill in students the understanding that art can play a vital role in transforming communities and the world at large. These fellows are gaining not only professional development but they are also expanding life skills and opportunities through an unconventional pathway,” says Grechel Rosado, Program Coordinator at WaterFire Providence

The 5 ArtLab@WaterFire Fellows chosen for the pilot program are Anthony Cordova, Jose Gutierrez, Derick Lemon, Vladimir Rodriguez, and Calvin Sangster Jr. All 5 fellows are students at Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School. 

“The ArtLab@WaterFire program is truly a transformative program for our students and youth to gain real-world professional experience and explore their passions, talents, and goals.  As the principal of Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School in Providence, I am very proud of the five students from my school that have enthusiastically enrolled in this program and the incredible hard work they’ve put in, in such a short time. To Anthony, Jose, Derick, Vladimir and Calvin, you are demonstrating the best that the Alvarez community has to offer and we are all looking forward to seeing what comes next from your hearts and minds, as well as the opportunity you all have to develop your passion and talents while interacting with residents and visitors of Providence and Rhode Island,” said Rep. Nathan W. Biah (D-Dist. 3, Providence).

The current cohort of ArtLab Fellows are participating in a pilot program that will end in September, with a new cohort being onboarded in the Fall of 2023 to be completed in the Fall of 2024. During the internship program, Fellows will be working at the WaterFire Arts Center gaining experience installing and uninstalling exhibitions, working as gallery docents, gaining retail and merchandise experience, as well as participating in the WaterFire event downtown. Each student will also be exposed to a range of different subjects through workshops, field trips, and activities like financial literacy and how to apply for student aid for college. In the coming months, WaterFire is recruiting BIPOC community leaders in Rhode Island to serve as mentors to each ArtLab fellow.

For more information about ArtLab@WaterFire please visit: and follow the fellows on Instagram at @artlab.waterfire.

About the author

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I've worked at WaterFire Providence since 2003. For the first 9 years of my career, I worked in the Production Shop learning all of the details that go into the physical production of the event. In 2012 transitioned to the role of managing WaterFire's social media and web presence. I now head up WaterFire Providence's digital projects including, web, social, databases, and our physical IT infrastructure.

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