If our city had a cultural pope, I'd ask her to grant sainthood to Gallery 5's Amanda Robinson for waving a banner for cultural renewal and revolution in Richmond.
It's no secret that Gallery 5 has been a labor of love for Robinson and her cohort of friends and supporters, and that is has been a hub for a rich scene of artists of all sorts. The historic firehouse has been part of her family for generations -- as a place to work, a piece of property, and a home of sorts. Lately, it's been ringing a five alarm bell to gain the attention of Richmonders interested in the preservation and enhancement of Richmond's rich cultural landscape.
The timing is ripe.
From the ill-conceived, ham-handed efforts of Richmond's otherwise useful Community Assisted Public Safety (CAPS) program (check out Style's attention-grabbing cover story from May for details) to recent discussions about the city's admissions tax, bad policy and fiscal laziness is fast colliding with a resurgent belief that arts and culture are not only vital to Richmond's creative legacy but to the health of its urban fabric.
I am not going to take my aggression out on CAPS, because I know that they are here to insure the safety of our community, and of course, to enforce that we pay the city every penny in tax money owed, even if they feel some of these taxes are doing more harm than good. Our arguments always take us back to city-council. If you have been in this city for more than 5 years, you would know that dealing with city council, is like dealing with a room of 4 year olds. You will fight the same fight for years, and very seldom see any change.
She has since followed up with a series of posts at Gallery 5's community blog, focused on beginning to craft a clear message to City Council on what a vibrant cultural policy might look like in the City of Richmond:
It is time to start compiling a list of important questions and concerns regarding Richmond's cultural future to submit to our city council. We want your questions to focus on the problems in our artistic community.
After attending this past CAPS meeting, we know that if we want to see any major change, we must approach our city council. We all know how long it takes for anything to get accomplished in that council, so lets start now!!
If there are codes/laws that you feel are outdated, too severe, or unreasonable in any way, please send along. If you have questions regarding taxes, CAPS enforcement, code violation, etc, lets get cracking. If you feel that the city is killing our culture, then tell us how!
Amanda Robinson is making a difference in Richmond. Head over to her community blog and share your ideas on how we can make a difference with City Council on our cultural and creative future.