With the Halloween decorations already on the discount rack and the winter holiday decorations already on display in stores, we’re looking back on the amazing month that was our first-ever artoberVA.
artoberVA was about creating a movement. A movement that got people involved in arts and culture. A movement that led some arts and culture organizations to do something out of the ordinary. A movement to help residents and visitors to discover and experience our region’s thriving arts and culture. With over 200 unique events – nearly 1,000 counting multi-day performances and exhibits – the movement has clearly begun.
From Day 1, we began with Noah Scalin’s #CreativeSprint, which inspired many of us to begin a new habit by trying something creative every day. One of our favorite challenges was to take a walk outside and make something from the things we found along the way. That still sits with us each day – what will we discover today, and what can we create from that?
We had the privilege of attending multiple artoberVA events almost every day. We can’t possibly try to recap them all here. But even a sampling shows the depth and diversity of artoberVA’s arts and culture movement:
- The Second Street Festival celebrated historic Jackson Ward with music, dance, great food and more.
- That same weekend, the Richmond Zine Fest showcased the written word and some emerging authors and artists in this new medium
- Numerous art walks from RVA First Fridays, to Petersburg’s Friday for the Arts, to Manchester’s Fourth Fridays, featured dozens of galleries opening shows and exhibits throughout our region. Some exhibits opened in new places, like the HI Hostel RVA, which had its first art show in celebration of artoberVA.
- The arts and cultural district theaters all had new productions in artoberVA: 1776 the Musical at Virginia Repertory Theatre, Cadence Theatre Company’s John at Theatre Gym, and TheatreLAB just opened Mother Courage and Her Children.
- Galleries in the Far West End and Midlothian joined in too with new exhibits by local and nationally-shown artists.
- The Richmond Folk Festival showed that wind and rain mean nothing to die-hard music fans as hundreds of thousands flocked downtown for this incredible annual event.
- Arts and culture took center stage in the mayoral race as six candidates spoke about the critical role arts and culture plays in their visions for the City of Richmond.
- The VMFA’s Faberge collection returned from its globe-trotting tour in time for Fine Arts and Flowers, pairing floral creations with a variety of the works in the VMFA’s collection.
- SPARC, the School for the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community celebrated its 35th birthday with the dedication of its newly renovated space including a dedication performance by SPARC Alum Jason Mraz.
- Even Halloween was made special with events like Voices from the Shadows – historic ghost tours of the battlefield at Pamplin Historic Park near Petersburg.
For a movement to spread, it takes people spreading the word. We saw that happen on social media, using the #artoberVA hashtag. And we heard some great personal stories, too. One high school English teacher heard about artoberVA on the radio, then shared it with her students, encouraging them to attend as many events as possible. How did you hear about artoberVA? Who have you told about it?
Arts and culture organizations across the region collaborated with each other – in some cases, for the first time. The Byrd Theatre worked with Quill Theatre, Puppets on Broad Street, Friends of Dogwood Dell, and WCVE Community Idea Stations to bring collaborative film and live theatre experiences in Richmond. The Poe Museum collaborated with St. John’s Church, CAT Theatre, and ComedySportz spreading literary spookiness throughout the month. The Hull Street Branch of the Richmond Public Library brought Alicia Dietz’s Collective Cadence three-dimensional artwork celebrating American veterans from the last century and beyond. And The Science Museum of Virginia and Regency Square offered free space for several pop-up art events including the James River Woodcarvers and Capiku Cuban Dance.
Access is key for a movement to reach all audiences, yet there are some in our area who lack full access to the arts and culture community. During artoberVA, we made a special effort to create what we call “community art,” by bringing art to historically underserved communities. Working in collaboration with the Better Housing Coalition, artoberVA provided dance and collaborative visual art to several communities that otherwise may have missed artoberVA.
So now the arts and culture movement has begun. It’s now up to each and every one of us to keep that momentum going. artoberVA highlighted one month of arts and culture in our region, but arts and culture is thriving in our region every day, every month, all year long. Was there something you discovered that you want to do again? Tell us about it on Facebook using the #artoberVA and see what that organization or artist has planned next month by visiting their website. Want to keep getting information about what’s going on? Sign up for CultureWorks’ FREE Cultural Shareholder Program to get weekly discount offers for arts and culture events all year long, and monthly newsletters highlighting artists and organizations from around our area. Want to learn more about the other arts and culture organizations in our region? Check out the directory on our website.
CultureWorks’ mission is to drive a vibrant community through arts and culture. It took our entire region to make artoberVA the huge success it was. Thank you to all the organizations, businesses, artists, volunteers, and patrons who got behind our mission, got the word out, and got themselves out to some amazing events this past month. We’re excited that the artoberVA movement has begun as we’ve already seen so many positive impacts throughout our community. This was just the beginning. Keep following artoberVA and Richmond CultureWorks on your favorite social media to stay tuned and be the first to find out what’s in store for artoberVA next year.