The stated mission of the Better Housing Coalition (BHC) is transforming communities through high-quality, affordable housing.

You would hardly think that this lends itself to a project like artoberVA, but the unstated mission of BHC is improving the quality of life for those often neglected in the Richmond area. They work to improve the lives of our seniors, help kids aspire to higher education, and search for long-term solutions in our neediest neighborhoods. They’re a non-profit, and often partner with our local governments and other agencies to make this happen.

One of their most recent partnerships was with CultureWorks, and they truly embraced the promise of artoberVA.

Culture4MyKids created a flash mob at the Lincoln Mews Apartment Complex. This complex is part of the BHC portfolio, and offers great amenities and services for the families who call it home. Children and families returned from their school day to enjoy drumming and dancing in their own neighborhood. They also left with complimentary tickets for full performances by Culture4MyKids.

Winchester Commons is in North Chesterfield County. It’s close to a grocery store (where many areas of affordable housing are not), employment centers that can help residents become more self-sufficient, offer after-school programs, and provide a fitness center, swimming pools, and several playgrounds and park areas. During artoberVA, they also offered a performance of ‘Fiesta del Sol’ by the Latin Ballet of Virginia. By the end of the performance, performers had coaxed dozens in the crowd to join them in a celebration of dance and music.

A more impactful story of how BHC and artoberVA partnered to enhance the quality of life for some of these folks came from Carter Woods, a senior living community in Henrico’s East End. Carter Woods has great support for independent-minded seniors, with a community room, library, a business center, and more. During the planning stages, the designers set aside space for an art gallery, to be filled by both residents and outside artists.

For over a decade, however, this gallery sat dormant.

CultureWorks and BHC brought in artist Nico Cathcart. Nico has a fantastic portfolio of individual works and has contributed to Richmond’s exciting street art scene with murals. After meeting the residents of Carter Woods, the decision was made to create a mural celebrating the James River. Her piece shows one of Richmond’s historic bridges, an iconic heron, and a fisherman testing the waters. She also created sketched-out panels for residents to contribute by creating their own complimentary murals. This helped bring the sleeping vision of an art gallery to life.

Now the residents of Carter Woods are asking for art classes. A good problem to have, no?

John Barrett is the Vice President of Property Management for BHC. He told us, “artoberVA gave our residents access to a variety of high-quality arts and cultural events that they otherwise may not have had the opportunity to experience. It is often difficult, if even possible, for families and seniors of modest means to access events of this caliber. I personally saw the delight in their faces.”

In a recent post, CultureWorks talked of the economic impact of arts and culture on a community. We also talked about the vibrancy it brings to neighborhoods. A thriving arts and culture scene make our region a great place to live, work, and play.

Arts and culture also bring people together and build a sense of identity and community. And that’s something that shouldn’t be dictated by economics or demographics.

Posted December 13, 2016 by & filed under 2016.