On June 26th Pride celebrations were underway, the Grateful Dead performing their last local concert, Nascar Jeff Gordon’s final career start, and two major league baseball games. I was at a Richmond Arts & Culture Commission Retreat. The meeting was held at commissioner Kit Pappenheimer’s Square One public space overlooking the Bay. Art in the public realm just doesn’t appear, it takes work even on a beautiful and sunny Sunday.
The morning started with commissioners sharing an unknown piece of their background. From one being born on a Native American Reservation, a childhood at Joshua Tree National Park, and Shakespeare acting experience, the commission shares diverse qualifications. Since 1988, individuals have worked on Cultural Plans, Revitalization Plans, Percentage for the Arts, and many other projects for the city of Richmond.
In 1995, the first Neighborhood Arts Mini-Gant Program was implemented. In fact, Richmond won a NeighborhoodUSA First Place Award for this innovative practice. Individuals, groups, and organizations apply for monies to engage the arts in local neighborhoods. This includes artworks, performances, murals, classes, and exhibits.
In the afternoon, we discussed strategies moving forward. This includes finding support staff or interns to aid with an artist registry. Budget cuts slow progress. Michele Seville, Arts & Culture Manager, desperately needs help. Our job was trying to figure how to provide that assistance.
According to the city of Richmond’s website: “The Richmond Arts & Culture Commission, in partnership with the Arts and Culture Division, is the lead organization for the development and advocacy of the arts and culture in Richmond. The Commission is respected and sought after for its broad and diverse knowledge of the arts. Members reflect the strength and diversity of the City and represent multiple fields of expertise.”
People exist that will not allow the arts to die. Each commissioner is passionate about Richmond. The old proverb “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind. In this case, good intentions will do good. The commission won’t accept any other outcome.