Michael M. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, rode into town on Aug. 18 for his "Arts in Crisis" national tour and left us with a challenge, as reported by staffer Harry Kollatz Jr. on his blog, The Hat:
"You have an astonishing arts and cultural community here. Richmond should be far better known in the outside world than it is. But God's not going to do that. You have to do that."
For months, a volunteer army from throughout the region has been working on just that.
Led by the Valentine Richmond History Center's Bill Martin, this task force issued the Richmond Region Cultural Action Plan in March. On Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Visual Arts Center, it will make its first report to the public. Two more will follow, one Jan. 12 and another April 6.
Included in the plan were these recommendations among many others (to read them all, go to richmondculturalplan.blogspot.com):
- Develop a central calendar/ticketing database for cultural activities in Richmond, move the visitor center to a more visible place and improve transportation between our cultural sites.
- Establish a support network for independent artists on such topics as housing, insurance and marketing.
- Reassess the allocation of revenue from the city's 7 percent admission tax on tickets costing more than $10.
- Catalog all educational opportunities provided by cultural arts organizations.
Since March, John Bryan, president of the Arts Council of Richmond, soon to be known as CultureWorks, has been keeping Martin and the 25-member task force updated on the work that small teams are doing on these recommendations and others.
The goal is for the task force to dissolve happily by spring 2010 and for CultureWorks to continue some of its work.
"There are a lot of people donating a significant amount of their volunteer time to work on this, to make this happen," Bryan says. "For lack of a better word, there is a bandwagon."
Think about their work as you see nine of our major cultural arts groups hit the stage on Sept. 12 at CenterStage, or when you attend inLight on Sept. 25 or when you encounter one of the 20 new spaces and faces featured in this issue.
And then, with the blessing of Michael Kaiser, tell a few people about it.
We are extending our readers' survey for one more month, and another lucky survey-taker will win a $100 gift certificate to dinner (visit richmondmagazine.com to take it). To those of you who thoughtfully answered last month, we thank you for taking the time and for giving us a list of strong story ideas for 2010 .