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Richmond Folk Festival is Going Virtual this Year

The Festival must go on and it will with a special television program, radio broadcasts and online streaming.

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The Richmond Folk Festival will celebrate its 16th anniversary the weekend of October 9-11 with a “virtual” event that will bring together the community through a special television program, radio broadcasts and online streaming.

Venture Richmond Events, in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Virginia Humanities’ Virginia Folklife Program, and the Children’s Museum will present new musical performances that are exclusive to this festival, highlights of favorite artists from past festivals, cooking demonstrations, a riverfront art installation, fun family activities, and so much more! The show will go ona virtual event celebrating the roots, richness, and variety of American culture.

“We certainly share in the disappointment so many are feeling that we won’t be celebrating in person along our downtown Riverfront this October,” said Lisa Sims, CEO of Venture Richmond. “But we are grateful for our sponsors and partners who are helping us bring our community together for a culturally-rich, engaging and memorable weekend.

“We’re particularly excited to work with long-time sponsors VPM to broadcast a special television program featuring Virginia artists, and we hope everyone will stay tuned for more announcements about our official festival beer, t-shirt and poster. We’re doing everything we can to make the second weekend in October a true Folk Festival weekend.”

Artists to be featured in new musical performances include:

  • Aurelio (Garifuna) Plaplaya, Honduras, and New York, New York
  • Los Texmaniacs (conjunto tejano) San Antonio Texas
  • The Quebe Sisters (Texas fiddling and western swing) Dallas, Texas
  • Rahim AlHaj (Iraqi oud) Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Vishtèn (Acadian)
  • Prince Edward Island and Magdalen Islands, Québec
  • Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters (funk and R&B) New Orleans, Louisiana

Click here for extended artist bios, plus audio and video samples on our website.

Art installation by Kevin Orlosky on Brown’s Island

A new and exciting addition to this year’s festival is an interactive art installation on Brown’s Island. Conceptualized by artist Kevin Orlosky, the sculpture will be a community project that draws parallels between our experiences during this period of social distancing and illustrates our similarities as well as the unique ways we are dealing with this pandemic.

The art installation will commence Friday, October 2, on Brown’s Island. Community participation will begin Sunday, October 4. Find out more about the art installation and community participation on our website.

CarMax Family Area produced by the Children’s Museum

Enjoy four great interactive videos from the Children’s Museum over the event weekend! Festival fans can make the iconic Children’s Museum BAG HATS with Art Studio Coordinator Cameron Booth, who will get participating families started by inspiring them to use their own creativity to express their identity. Cameron will also ask kids to DREAM BIG by demonstrating how to create a personal “Sofa Stage” and share some ideas for making homemade instruments. GOT RHYTHM? Grab some drumsticks (or any stick) and join in the fun with Children’s Museum educator Pamela McCartt to learn about patterns and how to identify them in stories and music. And finally, join Director of Education Krista Dawson as she reads a fun book about a child who likes to perform.

Find out much more about the fun family activities going on in this year’s virtual CarMax Family Area on our website.

Interactive scavenger hunt

An interactive scavenger hunt on downtown Richmond’s riverfront is a fun, new festival activity! Participants can explore historical clues they may not have noticed before, learn Richmond Folk Festival history they may not have known, and share relevant musical links along the way. Those who successfully complete the one-hour scavenger hunt will be entered in drawings for great prizes, with new winners selected throughout the summer and fall! The scavenger hunt is open now and will remain open until October 13.

Find out more about the scavenger hunt on our website.

Ways to watch and listen to this year’s virtual festival

This year’s virtual festival is a great opportunity for families to plan gatherings and watch parties at home in a safe, fun and responsible way. (Hours listed below comprise planned blocks of time encompassing television, live streaming, and radio. Specific schedules for each platform will be released closer to the festival.)

Friday, October 9 from 6:00-10:00pm

Saturday, October 10 from 12:00-8:00pm

Sunday, October 11 from 12:00-8:00pm

  VISIT RichmondFolkFesitval.org, the Richmond Folk Festival’s Facebook page, and the Richmond Folk Festival on YouTube to livestream the event.

  WATCH All Together Now, a special television program celebrating Virginia artists, to be aired on VPM PBS Plus Channel 57.1 WCVW digital HD transmitters for festival coverage on Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11.

•  LISTEN to Richmond public radio stations, VPM News (88.9 FM) and VPM Music (107.3 FM & 93.1 FM), for festival coverage on Friday, October 9, Saturday, October 10, and Sunday, October 11.

“We’re thrilled to present an incredibly robust weekend of programming and activities for the whole family so that everyone can still get that Folk Fest feeling,” said Stephen Lecky, Venture Richmond Director of Events. “The excitement from our community partners, performers, incredible volunteers and sponsors has been amazing.

“If we can’t gather together on downtown’s riverfront to celebrate at the Richmond Folk Festival, we’re going to give you the next best thing. As in years past, this virtual event will celebrate the culture and diversity of our community and explore a variety of American traditions.”

More artist announcements and additional details about the Richmond Folk Festival virtual celebration will be released throughout the summer. Folk Fest Insider enewsletter subscribers will be among the first to receive updates and breaking news about the festival.

For more information about the Richmond Folk Festival, visit www.richmondfolkfestival.org. #RVAFolkFest    Text to Give! Text FOLK to 44321

Many thanks to our sponsors:

Altria, City of Richmond, Dominion Energy, WestRock, Capital One, Community Foundation, CarMax, NBC12 & CW Richmond, Richmond Times Dispatch, VPM, SummitMedia, National Park Service, Plan 9 Music, House of Hayes, Tonal Park Studios, Spacebomb Studios

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Virginia Museum of History & Culture embarks on multi-year, $30 million renovation plans

A new theater, cafe, green space, and interior and exterior renovations are planned as part of the major project, which was expedited because of the pandemic.

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This October, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) will begin a dramatic renovation and expansion project – the most extensive in its long history. Inspired by its vision to better represent and welcome all Virginians and advance its ability to thoughtfully and fully preserve and share the ever-evolving story of Virginia, the museum will invest nearly $30 million in campus and programmatic improvements. In nearly 18 months of construction, the VMHC will be fundamentally reimagined as a more welcoming, guest- and community-centered cultural attraction.

The renewed museum complex of nearly 250,000 square feet will include multiple new exhibitions spaces for long-term and changing exhibitions; a new immersive orientation theater; a new interactive learning space for families; a new research library with a state-of-the-art rare book and manuscript suite, and multiple new education/meeting rooms; a new café, museum store and other amenities; and multiple new and renewed community and event spaces, including a new great hall, a second-floor event terrace, an outdoor event lawn, an expanded parking lot, and an improved VMFA campus connector.

VMHC’s upcoming construction will be a capstone of various expansions and improvements at the museum over the past two decades. It is also a culmination of the VMHC’s focused efforts in recent years to become the state history museum Virginia needs and all Virginians deserve – work that has already resulted in record-setting growth in museum visitation and programmatic activity. Guided by the museum’s ambitious strategic plan, which also called for the museum’s successful rebranding in 2018 as the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, these changes are intended to boldly and meaningfully
reinvent the museum as it looks ahead to its third century of operation and as the United States prepares to commemorate its 250th anniversary.

“As the oldest cultural organization in the Commonwealth and one of the largest and finest history collections in the nation, we take pride in saving and sharing the complex and consequential history of Virginia. We believe in the unparalleled role history plays in creating a strong, healthy, and inspired society. History gives us perspective and empathy – something we all could use more of now and always. History matters,” said VMHC President & CEO Jamie Bosket, “As we – as a nation, state, and community – reckon with our past, it is more important than ever that your state history museum is a community partner that adds great value. The VMHC is excited to embark on this important project on behalf of all Virginians and our shared future.”

Originally planned for 2022, these extensive capital improvements were expedited as part of the VMHC’s strategy to sustain through the current health and financial crisis. Overlapping the planned and subsidized disruption of renovation with the uncontrollable and unplanned challenge of COVID-19 will help the museum endure now and in the future. The VMHC is one of the few major museums in Virginia to survive its public closure.

“Being nimble and moving quickly with the work ahead, we believe we can not only maintain our team and continue to grow our tremendous portfolio of digital history programming, one of the most robust of any like museum, but we will also be able to re-emerge from these challenging times with strength and stability,” said Bosket. A recent national survey of the American Alliance of Museums suggested that as many as one in three American museums may be forced to shutter because of the impacts of COVID-19.

“We also believe that making this investment now is one way that we can do our part to contribute to our collective recovery – providing a new project that will engage dozens of local and regional businesses, and even allow for modest job creation at the museum,” commented Bosket.

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Abstract art installation “Procession” adds colorful new touch to VMFA’s expansive atrium

Visitors to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will notice a large, colorful painting along the elevation of the museum’s Atrium north wall. The expansive new mural, Procession, is the work of Nigerian-born American artist Odili Donald Odita.

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Visitors to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will notice a large, colorful painting along the elevation of the museum’s Atrium north wall. The expansive new mural, Procession, is the work of Nigerian-born American artist Odili Donald Odita. The work, completed on Sept. 20, 2020, can now be viewed in its entirety.

Procession was three years in the making. “The space called out to me when I came to VMFA in 2017,” said Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “I remember walking through the Cochrane Atrium with Stephen Bonadies, VMFA’s Senior Deputy Director for Conservation and Collections, who as a means of introduction offered to walk the building and grounds with me. I immediately thought that the Atrium’s large white wall was ripe for a work of art. I imagined a site-specific work that would activate the Atrium’s light-filled architecture, echoing the Sol LeWitt wall drawing in our Marble Hall. And I immediately thought of Odita’s abstract paintings and installations.” Cassel Oliver previously worked with the artist, curating an exhibition of his work while at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

In October 2018, Odita visited VMFA to view the space and collection. That visit inspired the work’s design—a captivating composition of color and lines. Two months later, the artist presented a study for the mural and in spring 2019, the museum’s Board of Trustees approved its commission. Over the last six weeks from August and into September five artists from the Odita studio drew and then painted Procession, a dynamic expanse of colorful lines, complex patterns, and striations that bend and illuminate the architecture of the space. Odita’s mural heralds the traditions of the Gee’s Bend quilts and African textiles as well as mid-20th century paintings that highlight the deeply resonate practices that have persisted within the African and African Diasporic cultures. And while the work does not shy away from the sociopolitical landscape of the moment, it squarely sets its ideals upon the power of creative expression within an ever-evolving society.

“Odita’s Procession transforms the Atrium,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “This vibrant mural invites viewers to contemplate and have timely, crucial conversations about racial identity and equity, as well as the power of abstract art.”

Odita is slated to return to VMFA to discuss his work next spring. Details about this event as well as a time-lapse video of the six-week installation of Procession will be made available on VMFA’s website, www.VMFA.museum, in the coming weeks.

Odili Donald Odita was born in Enugu, Nigeria in 1966. Fleeing the Biafran War, he came with his family to live in the United States the following year. After earning his BFA and MFA at Ohio State University and Bennington College, respectively, he worked as a critic, editor, and writer for art publications and Yale University. He taught at the University of South Florida and Florida State University before taking his current position as associate professor of painting at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.

Odita has created site-specific temporary and permanent installations for the United States Mission at the United Nations (NY), the George C. Young Federal Building Courthouse (Orlando, FL), the Birmingham Museum of Art (AL), and the city of Philadelphia (PA), among other locations across the country. His work is also found in the collections of several institutions including the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (NC), the Savannah College of Art and Design (GA), and the New Orleans Museum of Art (LA).

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The Valentine’s popular Controversy/History series returns to address 2020’s impact

The Valentine’s popular conversation series will return virtually on Tuesday, October 6, co-hosted by Valentine Director Bill Martin and Coffee with Strangers host Kelli Lemon. The free, five-event series will focus on the evolving impacts of 2020, a year full of unexpected challenges and uncomfortable conversations, all amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic and massive social change.

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The Valentine’s popular conversation series will return virtually on Tuesday, October 6, co-hosted by Valentine Director Bill Martin and Coffee with Strangers host Kelli Lemon. The free, five-event series will focus on the evolving impacts of 2020, a year full of unexpected challenges and uncomfortable conversations, all amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic and massive social change.

“The Richmond community that entered 2020 is not the same community we find ourselves a part of today,” Valentine Director Martin said. “2020 has truly been a year of historic change, and it only makes sense to use our conversation series Controversy/History to examine those changes, how they have impacted the people of the Richmond Region and what we can do as a community to move forward together.”

Each virtual event will include an exciting lineup of guest speakers discussing contemporary issues and how 2020 has either upended or reinforced Richmond’s history, followed by questions from the audience and action steps for those inspired to get involved.

Here is a complete list of dates and topics:

October 6, 2020, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
2020 and Voting

November 3, 2020, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
2020 and Mental Health

December 1, 2020, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
2020 and Business

January 5, 2021, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
2021 and Education

February 2, 2021, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
2021 and Activism

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