Barrington artist chosen for national honor

Kevin Doyle performing at 2013 National Heritage Concert in Washington DC (photo by Tom Pich, provided by the National Endowment for the Arts).

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced today that Kevin Doyle of Barrington is among the latest recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, the nation's highest honors in the folk and traditional arts, according to a press release from the RI State Council on the Arts. Doyle, an Irish Step Dancer, is among a select group of artists and jazz musicians who are being honored for mastering the artistic skills and preserving the cultural traditions of their respective art forms.

Chu said, "Among these recipients of NEA National Heritage Fellowships there is a recurring theme. Starting at a young age, these individuals were exposed to the arts. Today these artists' passion for their art can be seen both in their long and dedicated careers and their willingness to share their knowledge with new audiences."

Governor Lincoln Chafee praised Doyle for receiving this national honor. "On behalf of the citizens of Rhode Island, I congratulate Kevin Doyle for his recognition by the National Endowment for the Arts," Governor Chafee said. "As a retired RIPTA bus driver, he exemplifies the very best our state has to offer. His love for Irish Step Dancing and the arts is clear and should encourage others to pursue their passions."

Senator Jack Reed offered his congratulations. "I commend NEA for selecting Kevin Doyle to receive our nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Kevin is an elite artist with a common touch. He makes Irish step dancing look easy, but he is someone who has poured many years of hard work, sweat, and soul into honing his craft. I think it is great that he is being recognized on a national stage and making Rhode Island and our Irish-American community proud," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, which oversees federal arts funding, including the NEA's annual budget.

Senator Whitehouse also praised Doyle and this award. "Our arts community makes Rhode Island a better place to live and do business," said Whitehouse, an ex-officio member of the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Supporting the artists that make the Ocean State such a special place is a wise investment. I congratulate Kevin Doyle on this honor, and wish him the best of success as he continues his career."

Congressman David Cicilline, who represents Barrington, also applauded Kevin Doyle's achievement. "For decades, Kevin Doyle has pursued his passion for Irish Step Dancing and has shared with so many his talents and the traditions of his family and his Irish heritage, and I am delighted that the National Endowment for the Arts will honor that artistic dedication," said Congressman David Cicilline. "As a Barrington native, talented dancer and proud father, Kevin is an example to so many across our state, and I am excited to join in recognizing his accomplishment as a NEA National Heritage Fellow."

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, added his congratulations. "We're thrilled that Kevin Doyle has received this important recognition of his work upholding and advancing the art of traditional Irish step dancing," said Rosenbaum. "We're pleased that the National Endowment for the Arts supports these important cultural efforts here in Rhode Island and throughout the country."

With more than five decades of Irish step dance under his feet, Rhode Island-born Kevin Doyle is a son of County Roscommon through his mother Margaret Taylor Doyle. He is a grandson of County Longford through his father John, whose Irish parents came to live in Providence, Rhode Island's Fox Point in the early 1900's.

At the age of eight, Doyle, along with his sister Maureen, began to learn their first Irish dance steps from their mother. He recalls his mother lilting (a way of vocalizing rhythmically using syllables rather than words) old tunes like "McLeod's Reel," which she had learned from her own mother in Ireland. In the 1960s, Doyle studied at the Pat Fallon School of Irish Dance with visiting Boston instructors Steve Carney and Mary Sullivan, and at the McCorry School of Dance in Pawtucket, where he learned steps traceable to the old dance masters of Ireland.

Through apprenticeship awards with the Southern New England Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program and Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Kevin taught his daughter Shannon traditional Irish dance and she has gone on to become an Irish dance teacher herself. In 2013, Doyle was awarded a Folk Arts Fellowship from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Doyle is retired from a career as a RIPTA bus driver.

The 2014 NEA National Heritage Fellows will be honored at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 and a concert at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium on Friday, September 19, 2014. Both events will be open to the public and the concert will be streamed live at More information, including how to obtain free tickets to the concert, will be available later this summer.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, arts

Portsmouth poet in Providence tomorrow night

Roots Cultural Center "Word on Wednesdays"

Portsmouth poet Carol Anderheggen will be featured at the Roots Cafe in Providence tomorrow night, Wednesday, May 29, as part of their "Word on Wednesdays" series, according to an e-mail from Anderheggen.

Admission is $5, and Anderheggen will kick off the evening of readings with about 20 minutes of her work at 7pm.

If you'd like to get a taste of Anderheggen's work, check out her web site at

02871, Localblogging, arts

RI Foundation announces fellowships for music composition

The RI Foundation announced their triennial music composition fellowships, now accepting applications through September 1 for these $25K grants. If you're a Rhode Island composer or know someone who is, read on.

The Rhode Island Foundation is pleased to announce applications for the Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowships are being accepted online now through September 1. The 2011 fellowships will be in music composition.

The Robert and MacColl Johnson Fellowship Fund, established at the Foundation in 2003, provides up to three $25,000 artist fellowships each year, rotating among composers, writers, and visual artists on a three-year cycle. In all three disciplines, the fellowships are awarded to emerging and mid-career Rhode Island artists whose work demonstrates exceptional creativity, rigorous dedication, and significant artistic merit.

Read complete guidelines and eligibility information at Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowships.

If you have questions, please contact the Alliance of Artists Communities, which is managing the fellowship selection process, at or (401) 351-4320.

Editorial note: From a press release, obviously.

Localblogging, 02871, RI, arts

Portsmouth activist to be featured in Newport film festival Friday [update]

Compassion Film Festival
Image courtesy of Compassion Film Festival

A short film by Portsmouth activist and videographer Sandra Hammel will be shown this Friday at the Compassion Film Festival in Newport, according to a Facebook post. Hammel's 5-minute short, "DARFUR The Abandoned Genocide" was one of the entries selected by the jury for the festival this Friday from 6-7:30 pm at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport. Tickets are $10 and will benefit the Newport non-profit Looking Upwards.

The festival will include work created by individuals with and without disabilities working with director Rocco Michaluk of Newport's Video & Vision as well as shorts by local and regional filmmakers.

Hammel, who has been outspoken on the ongoing crisis in Darfur, said this about her film. "Genocide flourishes when there is no accountability. It has been flourishing in Darfur since February 2003."

"It is our responsibility as human beings to care about others," Hammel added. "Complicity and impunity will never end a genocide. One voice won't stop a genocide, but that is no excuse to be silent."

The festival features films exploring "what compassion could mean to our world at a time when throughout the world we all are facing tremendous challenges," according to a release posted on the RI State Council on the Arts web site.

Editorial note: Written with material from several press releases.

Update: Spelling of "Hammel" corrected in grafs 3 and 4. I had it right in the first graf, then failed to proof. Sorry about that.

Localblogging, 02871, arts

Portsmouth musicians featured in Newport show this weekend

American Songbook at Trinity Church
American Songbook at Trinity Church.

This weekend, enjoy the music of Frank Sinatra, performed by the talented muscians of Newport's Trinity Church Ministry of the Arts (including one of Portsmouth's most musical families, Diane, Chris, and Jonathan Myers) From the press release:

Trinity Church's Ministry of the Arts presents their 4th annual event in the "American Songbook" series, this time, saluting "The Chairman of the Board", a.k.a. "Old Blue Eyes" - Frank Sinatra. This all-Sinatra review, under the direction of Paul Allard, and musical direction by Al Deston, III, spans the artist's 60+ year career, during which he recorded over 2,000 songs. Enjoy a trip down memory lane with the Trinity Church Ministry of the Arts cast, and sing along, tap your toes, or just watch, listen, and enjoy the show.

The show features Portsmouth musicians Diane, Chris, and Jonathan Myers, as well as Paul Allard, Lynne Ceglie (so sorry about Tuesday, Lynne!), Paul Koumrian, Pro Lyon, Carol Parfet, Steve Parfet, Nancy Roy, Bob Smith, and Cathy Taitz.

Each installment of "American Songbook" has been presented to raise money for a particular charity, and this time is no different: Proceeds from this year's show will benefit "Grace's Children Orphanage" in Northern Kenya.

Tickets are $20. For reservations, please email, or call 401-324-9492.

Show times: November 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 @ 7:30 pm
November 7, 14 matinee @ 2 pm

Disclaimer: Written substantially from a press release.

Localblogging, 02871, arts, Music