PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island School of Design will discontinue its popular holiday sale, featuring work from RISD alumni, held each year at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
A petition protesting the move, addressed to RISD president Rosanne Somerson, Director of RISD Alumni Relations Christina Hartley, and RISD board chairman Michael Spalter is online at www.change.org. As of Wednesday afternoon it had 466 signatures.
Hartley said RISD will continue to support RISD Craft, the juried alumni sale held each fall on Benefit Street in Providence. In a January email to alumni, the RISD Alumni Relations office announced it is creating a new online directory for RISD artists and artisans, designed to promote the work of RISD alumni to a global audience. The directory will be launched this summer.
As part of the creation of the online directory, the email said, the holiday sale will be ended.
“We see the online marketplace as part of an attempt to support our alumni more broadly,” Hartley said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Geography is not an issue; we can include alumni who are making fine jewelry in Hong Kong.”
Jeweler Heather Guidero, a 2002 RISD graduate, is among those who supports the petition on change.org. She said she has been a vendor at the holiday sale for at least 10 years, and it has become a significant source of income. Beyond that, she said, the holiday sale is an opportunity for artists to connect to their customers and the community.
“People are really disappointed with this,” she said.