Riverside has beefed up its annual arts fair and will celebrate the local arts community during Riverside Arts Weekend – or, simply, RAW – this spring.

In addition to a two-day juried arts fair on East Quincy Street, the event will showcase local artists (adult and student), music, theater and architecture. RAW, which is scheduled for May 21 and 22, will also feature a benefit for the Riverside Arts Center, which has taken on a more central role in the planning and execution of the event.

“It’s become more of a community-wide event to highlight the arts in Riverside,” said Nancy Hejna, a board member of the Riverside Arts Center and co-chairwoman of RAW 2011. “We were at a good point to do something bigger and this was a great opportunity to have a crowd in town and feature the arts center and other groups.”

The event no longer emanates from the village’s Economic Development Commission. Instead, a group of residents – including some village officials – are forming a nonprofit 501c3 organization to lead this and future efforts.

“It was initially housed in the EDC, but I think the focus of that group needs to be on the CBD and Harlem Avenue,” said Village President Michael Gorman.

The president of the nonprofit’s board of directors, Jean Sussman, is a Riverside trustee who has been instrumental in organizing past arts fairs. Its vice president is Deanna Zalas, a former chairwoman of the Economic Development Commission. Zalas is also co-chair for RAW 2011.

Cathy Haley, assistant to the Riverside village manager, is the group’s secretary, while Village Manager Peter Scalera serves ex-officio. Two board members of the Riverside Arts Center, Hejna and Bob Faust, are also on the nonprofit board. Hauser Junior High School art teacher Harjit Singh is the board’s treasurer.

According to Sussman, an attorney from the village’s law firm drew up the nonprofit paperwork pro bono. The nonprofit status will allow the group to do fundraising and apply for grants. Any money currently in the Riverside village budget as a line item for the arts fair will be shifted to the nonprofit’s bank account when all of the paperwork is finalized.

The centerpiece of RAW will still be the juried art fair, which features 60-70 artists working in a variety of media, from painting to photography, ceramics, sculpture and jewelry.

Quincy Street, which is also home to the Riverside Arts Center and other arts-related businesses, will again be the site for the fair. In addition, the arts center is hosting an invitational display of art by local artists, which may include work by students as well. That artwork will be displayed separately in the parking lot of Jeff’s Auto on Quincy Street, which will also provide an area for children’s art activities.

But the event will also include performances by musical and theater groups on both days at the Riverside train station at Riverside and Bloomingbank roads. The Frederick Law Olmsted Society will host a lecture on Riverside architecture and tours of Riverside, as in past years.

The train station will also be the site of a Caribbean-themed gala fundraiser for the arts center on Saturday night. The event will include a silent auction of local artwork. On Sunday morning, awards will be handed out to artists participating in the juried event, during a ceremony at the train station prior to the start of the fair that day.

“I think it will be a lot of fun and will be interesting,” Sussman said. “It’s an opportunity to draw people from the community and outside the community.”

There will also be a concerted effort to involve more local restaurants to provide food during the event, Sussman said.

“We’re working with restaurants so those who want to set up in front of the train station can do so,” Sussman said. “The intention is to keep the food local.”