The Providence arts scene offers the full range of performing and visual arts, with many disciplines including several distinct styles. For a city its size, Providence hosts an exceptional number of museums and arts institutions, including the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum, Trinity Repertory Company, AS220 and the recurring public art event WaterFire

Visual Arts

In addition to the RISD Museum, Providence hosts a large number of galleries. In fact, Thursday is Gallery Night with a special RIPTA trolley that circulates patrons among the various venues. Notable galleries include:

WaterFire, the environmental / public art event, defines not only the Providence arts scene but Providence itself. 


In addition to its annual season of stage works, Trinity Repertory Company hosts a conservatory that has trained many well-known actors. It also produces an annual version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with 50-some performances over the Thanksgiving-to-New-Years period. Each year, open auditions find new talent among the region's young people. 

The Providence theater scene has spawned several independent companies, most of which have found homes outside the city limits. Most notable among these are the Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket and the Second Story Theatre Company now located in Warren. Theater by the Sea produces musicals each summer in Matunuck (a village in South Kingstown), and All Children's Theatre in Pawtucket creates opportunities for youth ages 4 - 18.


Of all the arts scenes in Providence, music is the most dynamic and active. The city has launched many well-known bands, although the one most closely associate with it--Talking Heads--was formed after its members left RISD for New York City.

Historically, George M. Cohan is arguably the most famous of musicians from Providence. A statue of him stands at the top of Wickenden Street. Others would suggest that R&B superstar Jeffrey Osborne should hold that mantle; in 2012, the city renamed part of Olney Street in the Mount Hope neighborhood Jeffery Osborne Way. 

Like the theater scene, music in "Providence" spills over the city limits, primarily into Pawtucket to the north. That city hosts Strange Famous Records, the company created by rapper Sage Francis; Charles "Chachi" Carvalho, the rapper and owner of Beat Box recording studios and Machines with Magnets, the one-of-a-kind recording studio / performance venue / art gallery. 

In 2014, two styles dominate the Providence sound: noise rock and new folk / Americana. At present the former is waning while the latter is ebbing.

The bass/drums duo Lightning Bolt came to define the noise rock genre nationally, and their successor Black Pus enjoys an underground celebrity. Megasaurus, the short-lived project of Amazing Royal Crowns front Jason Kendall, brought a sharp metal edge to the noise sound. Junior Beats, a duo comprising members of noise-mongers Black Oil Incinerator, specialize in pop-up shows powered by car batteries.

The Low Anthem were among the early precursors of the now-popular new folks sound. Brown Bird, a duo, seemed poised to move into national prominence, but Dave Lamb succumbed to leukemia in the spring of 2014. The Silks, a blues-based trio, recently released their album The Last American Band, produced by Paul Westerberg (The Replacements) at Flowers Studio in Minneapolis.

More on the Providence Music Scene


Providence hosts several dance companies that span the range from classical ballet to modern. They include:

  • Festival Ballet - ballet school that produces an annual version of The Nutcracker at PPAC
  • Island Moving Company
  • Everett Dance Company
  • Fusion Works (Lincoln)
  • Add more dance companies here...