Back in the early summer, John Bryan of the Arts Council of Richmond, invited a couple of dozen local bloggers to lunch. His intention was to do this on a regular basis, as a way of getting the word out about his organization's resuscitation (it has been renamed CultureWorks) and to act as a conduit of sorts for news-oriented bloggers.
A second lunch was held this past Friday, drawing a smaller crowd, and Harry Kollatz proved that he can thread a story out of straw over at Richmond Magazine's Daily Tip Sheet. Of course, Harry took notes, which is always helpful.
The main thing I remember was the physical shock I experienced when I discovered that Bryan, who has been in the thick of Richmond's art community for decades, had no idea who Dave Brockie is. (Note to RVANews: Bring Brockie to the next lunch.)
The afternoon started with a bit of an inquisition by Style Weekly's new arts and culture editor, Don Harrison, who most bloggers know as one of the scathing pens behind Save Richmond and its years-old efforts to hold the CenterStage project accountable. Don politely hammered Bryan about the composition of CultureWorks' new board and his perception that it was light on actual artists; Bryan listened, responded, and asked Harrison to hold his fire until the board was officially announced later in the fall -- and until the organization had a change to prove itself.
Here's a bit of Harry Kollatz's take on the lunch:
This afternoon, I had the unique privilege of dining with several fellow bloggistes and members of the reformed Richmond Arts Council, now CultureWorks, which operates under the capable and visionary guidance of John Bryan, himself a writer and artist.
Bryan has orchestrated periodic assemblies with people who write about the town in various capacities and in diverse communities to discuss the best ways to make arts and culture connect with the city, from City Hall to the people in the street.
The major reason for the meeting was the introduction of Brooks Smith — writer, historian and WCVE personality — as chairman of CultureWorks' board of directors. That body is still a-borning, and the announcement of its members will be made on or near Oct. 6. You'll be able to read more about Smith in our editor-in-chief's Q & A with him in the October issue of Richmond magazine.
The mission of CultureWorks will not be to produce or present, but instead to facilitate and support a vital component of the city's life; that is, the makers and creators. If you doubt the value, do as Richmond's Mayor Jones did this past First Friday and see the 6,000 or so people who'll turn out in good weather to promenade along Broad and its tributary streets to visit the galleries and restaurants (many of which exist because of First Friday). Or see the people lining up at The National (without much in the way of adjacent parking, by the way), or attend the InLight event later this month.