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WaterFire Staff Stories: Peter Mello

How long have you worked at WaterFire and what appeals to you about working for WaterFire Providence?

I have been working at WaterFire for nearly a decade and what really excites me is how we create and present #Art4Impact that is accessible and approachable for people who might not otherwise experience it because they might not feel comfortable in a traditional arts venue like a museum, gallery or concert hall or might not be able to afford a ticket to the opera, ballet or philharmonic. 

What is something that most people might not know about WaterFire that you think is important?

WaterFire is a powerful art that is also a significant contributor to the Rhode Island economy. During a typical year, nearly 1,000,000 visitors will come to downtown Providence to experience WaterFire and their economic activity and spending creates approximately $114,000,000 in economic impact which generates more than $9,000,000 in direct-tax revenue for the State of Rhode Island and supports 1,294 jobs for community residents. WaterFire is art that means business.

What was the first place you visited after the Rhode Island economy began to reopen? Or, what is a place that hasn’t reopened that you are waiting to visit? 

My first reopening experience was outdoor dining at Troop and my second was taking in The Decameron Project at the WaterFire Arts Center and on the adjacent ALCO campus. I’m very proud of our WaterFire and The Wilbury Group teams for leading the way as one of the first live in-person theater experiences in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic and securing great national media in The New York Times for it

What is a hidden gem in our community that you think people should know about? 

The Providence Athenæum is one of the most amazing libraries in the world and too few Rhode Islanders even know it exists. It’s a magical place and their programming is always incredibly thought-provoking. 

Name a restaurant/bar/park/place that you support that has inspired you with its coronavirus response.

Troop is located in and has been supporting community activities in the Valley neighborhood since it first opened. They were a great partner with The Wilbury Theater Group and WaterFire Providence in making The Decameron Providence a successful experience for theatergoers and their Front Porch performances as part of the Fringe PVD Festival brought great art experiences to people’s homes and neighborhoods. 

Aerial view of the Waterplace Park basin during a Clear Currents WaterFire lighting. Photograph by John Nickerson.
Aerial view of the Waterplace Park basin during a Clear Currents WaterFire lighting. Photograph by John Nickerson.

About WaterFire Staff Stories

Each week we will bring you stories of WaterFire from the perspective of our staff members. This series will feature short videos produced by each team member and they will be sharing stories and facts about our organization as well as their recommendations for places and activities around Rhode Island that you can enjoy.

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For 25 years WaterFire has been transforming place and building community in downtown Providence with impacts that reach into every corner of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, we’ve had to indefinitely postpone the WaterFire season, losing the earned revenue on which our work depends. We need your help—now more than ever—to get us through this financial crisis.

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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