What Rhode Island may lack in geographic size it makes up for with the prevalent arts and culture scene which is ever trending in the Ocean State. With seven major galleries and a separate set of seven theatres, South County has long been recognized as a cultural hotspot in the state! The thriving arts scene includes a wide array of art forms including concerts, dance, exhibitions, lectures, festivals and theaters. The numerous art galleries host the work of talented, local artists and beyond.
The arts end has had numerous galleries, guilds and associations to keep the artistry prevalent and available to the public. Charlestown Gallery, open May through January, showcases fine contemporary American art by local artists and beyond while The Wickford Art Association Gallery, sponsor of the Wickford Art Festival, has changing exhibits from local artists year round. One Way Gallery and Silver Tides Jewelry is an art gallery and jewelry boutique which features up and coming artists and handcrafted jewelry by Amber Bettez. They hold a ‘Gallery Night’ on the last Saturday of every month which showcases new artwork and jewelry as well as food, music and drinks.
There is an exceptionally strong presence of galleries in the South Kingstown/Wakefield area. Fayerweather Craft Guild features art and craft items by 70 local artisans presented in an antique 1820’s farmhouse. Another gallery offering a full schedule of exhibitions is the Hera Gallery, located on High Street. Hera covers art shows, lectures, talks, film/video screenings and performances. The South County Art Association Gallery is open year round with art exhibits open to the public five days a week in the Helme House galleries. The Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly, also opened year round, has changing art exhibits by members and invited artists in all media.
Some of the theatre in the area is certainly driven by seasonality, but there are staples in South County that keep visitors coming back each year for theatrical enjoyment.
The Colonial Theatre at Wilcox Park has been showcasing Shakespeare in the park each year, and to much delight! The Courthouse Center for the Arts is a multidisciplinary community arts center located in the historic Washington County Courthouse. The Contemporary Theatre Company was opened in 2005 and provides live theatre all year long for South County from plays to live readings to open mics; it is a great place to submerse yourself in the arts. Theatre By the Sea, located in Matunuck, is not only listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but continues to impress people with new, unique works as well as traditional classic productions. The University of Rhode Island Theatre located in Kingston produces four plays put on each year by the students there. The URI Theatre performs musicals, comedies and dramas of classical and contemporary style. The Granite Theatre in Westerly puts on Broadway comedies and musicals that begin starting in March and last until December. The Greenwich Odeum, located in East Greenwich, has recently opened with a new seating and fresh look that that is a must see for theatre fans in Rhode Island.