creative economy

WaterFire looks to region for help designing sustainable future

WATERFIRE PROVIDENCE is looking for votes from its supporters and others to propel it to the top of the ArtsFwd 2013 Business Unusual National Challenge to help it solve issues of financial sustainability.
Posted 5/17/13

PROVIDENCE – WaterFire Providence is asking its supporters for help in an “unusual” way. The nonprofit organization was recently named one of 14 semifinalists in the ArtsFwd 2013 Business Unusual National Challenge, and it’s looking for online votes to help it come out on top.

The Business Unusual National Challenge is an initiative of ArtsFwd, which centers on “next practices” for arts leaders. Through the challenge, ArtsFwd hopes to “crowdsource bright minds in and outside the arts sector to tackle the most significant challenges facing organizations today.” The organization is interested specifically in contributing to what it calls adaptive challenges, or those with “no obvious solution, no set procedures and no recognized experts.”

In WaterFire’s case, the challenge revolves around developing a new business model that gets more of WaterFire’s beneficiaries to contribute, so that it can continue to create cultural and economic impacts for the community and inspire its visitors.

WaterFire’s goals include:

  • Overcoming the public good/free rider effect that threatens its sustainability

  • Developing a business model that has new, diversified revenue streams captured from the value WaterFire creates for a wide range of beneficiaries, many of whom can afford to reinvest at appropriate levels in the artwork

  • Producing more public art events that add vibrancy and economic impact to the community

According to a press release, “WaterFire is an admission-free event that has very real costs to produce. And while nearly everyone loves it, a incredibly small percentage actually support it. We need to work together to figure out a way to increase those numbers or long-term sustainability will be challenging.”

If the organization wins the Business Unusual Challenge, it would receive a package of grants and resources worth $35,000 to prototype an approach to its challenge.

In order to advance to the final round, WaterFire needs the public to cast online votes in its favor. The organization is asking that supporters vote daily online through Friday, May 31.

To help voters remember, WaterFire is offering to send daily reminder emails that contain a link to the voting page. Those who sign up for the emails will also be entered to win the opportunity to participate in lighting WaterFire with a guest, a Brazier Society experience for two, or a framed photo of WaterFire signed by WaterFire creator and artistic director Barnaby Evans.

The winner will be announced in the fall.

Those interested can cast votes at

PBN Hosted

Join PBN for the best networking event and party of the winter - January 15, 2015 - the Book of Lists Party at the Providence Public Library. Reserve your spot early!
  • Best Places to Work
    Enrollment is now open for the 7th annual Best Places to Work program. Winners w ...
  • Manufacturing Awards
    Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual Manufacturing Awards. Dea ...
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
    Latest News