Arts & Culture
Enriching Our Community through Arts and Culture
The Value of Arts & Culture
A society, and more importantly a community, reflects its identity, history, character and beliefs through its arts and culture. Furthermore, the arts provide a way to engage and inspire its citizens in a meaningful way. The Richmond region has a proud history in the arts, culture, history and heritage and few regions of comparable size or population can boast the same level of quality, dynamism and excitement.
Among people of all ages, the arts provide a setting in which people who may not otherwise connect come together and share meaningful and potentially transformative experience. This can occur with arts classes, museum exhibits, live performances and cultural festivals, to name a few. We become connected to a global community. We are provided a common language that crosses national and cultural boundaries and allows us to explore our past, understand the present and imagine the future. For our young people, research shows that arts education improves academic performance in all areas of study and can have profound impact on a student's overall health and well-being. Students are provided an outlet of self-expression that allows them to reflect, process, think critically and problem solve. An emerging commitment to creative education - both in school and in the community - offers cutting edge ideas for preparing a 21st century workforce of innovators, scientists and creative thinkers.
Arts and culture also bring beauty and energy to our region. Individual artists and creative workers enliven our communities and contribute to urban revitalization. Galleries, studios and live work spaces have increasingly reclaimed blighted parts of urban landscape at no cost to the taxpayers. Our cultural facilities and historical monuments provide much of the beauty and fascination that makes the region a special place to live and work. They are also a source of local pride.
In addition, arts and culture contribute at least $300 million annually to the local economy by conservative estimates. With support and attention, these activities can continue to be a growing force for economic vitality. The cultural sector helps to make metro Richmond a special place to live and work, and provides compelling reasons for corporations, businesses and creative entrepreneurs to relocate to the region. Similarly, arts and cultural activities are a large part of why people visit the area. Diverse offerings throughout the year bring more people, encourage them to stay longer and result in more out-of-the-region dolalrs to be spent locally.
State of the Arts
According to Philanthropy News Digest, the National Arts Index released a report in 2010 indicating that the health of the nation's arts sector reached a twelve-year low in 2009. The measures include capacity and infrastructure, participation, contributed support, employment, creativity, demand for arts education and several other factors. In particular, the report found that since the onset of the latest recession, the decrease is due in large part to lower earned income and charitable giving to arts organizations. In Richmond, however, our arts and cultural institutions are weathering the storm. We can boast the newly expanded Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is free and open to the public and is now the temporary east coast home to the highly acclaimed Picasso exhibit. Richmond CenterStage provides a beautiful, state-of-the-art venue for our local performing arts organizations. We are home to VCU, named one of the top rated public art universities year after year.
This overview largely represents the findings and action steps as outlined in the Richmond Region Cultural Action Plan, spurred to life by Bill Martin (Executive Director of the Valentine Richmond History Center) in 2007. His idea was to bring together community and arts leaders to discuss an overall strategy for strengthening arts and culture in the Richmond region. Research was conducted in a number of ways, involving public meetings, personal interviews and surveys and a formal task force charged with overseeing the year-long process. The result was a call to action. A call for all the citizens of the Richmond region to support and advocate for a creative community enriched by the arts, culture, history, heritage and creative education. It is also a call to the region's cultural organizations, governments, corporations, foundations and service organizations to work together to promote and support cultural opportunities throughout the region more effectively. The plan was published in 2009, and CultureWorks was created to oversee implementation of the following stated goals:
- To increase the contribution of arts and culture to the economic vitality of the region.
- To expand cultural participation on a regional basis
- To promote cultural equity and build on cultural diversity.
- To build a coordinated, equitable and innovative system for creative education.
- To sustain the Richmond region's artists and cultural organizations.
- To provide for ongoing coordination, advocacy and dialogue on behalf of arts and culture.
For more information about arts and culture in the greater Richmond region, please visit any organization listed on the GiveRichmond Learn Tab or go directly to:
www.richmondcultureworks.org -- CultureWorks
www.vaforarts.org -- Virginians for the Arts
www.arts.virginia.gov -- Virginia Commission for the Arts