Third RVA Street Art Festival to bring color, culture to Manchester this weekend

More than 25 muralists and sculptors will leave their mark on the industrial neighborhood April 21st – 24th.

Photo by Arshan Yazdan.

Original — March 30, 2016

The gritty, industrial Manchester area will soon be awash in color thanks to the efforts of more than 25 artists and sculptors. The neighborhood, framed by the iconic Southern States grain silos, will serve as the canvas for the third RVA Street Art Festival, to be held April 21st through 24th.

This year’s event, entitled “Bridging the River,” will take place at the southern foot of the Mayo Bridge, where muralists–most of whom are local-will revitalize the buildings surrounding the silos and the little-known Floodwall Park. A number of sculptors will also create pieces to stand in an adjacent dog park, some permanent and others temporary, dealing with conservation of the James River, including its wildlife and river pollution. Organizers are still deciding whether or not to paint the actual silos themselves, weighing whether their historic character would be compromised by doing so.

The event, which first took place at the city’s flood wall in 2012, was spearheaded by local artist Ed Trask and Richmond City Councilman Jon Baliles. Its purpose is threefold-to support youth art education, spotlight local artists, and breathe new life into the city’s neighborhoods.

“Richmond really loves this festival. It’s a great way to get people out to celebrate all forms of creativity in our town.”

The festival landed in Manchester after the two approached the owner of the buildings to be transformed, according to Ashley Hawkins, a festival co-organizer and co-owner of Studio Two Three in Scott’s Addition. “The owner was thrilled about it,” Hawkins said in a phone interview with RVANews. “They were really excited to have people jumping in and bringing some color to the site.” She says conversations began over a year ago. The original plan was to host the event last fall, but there was no RVA Street Art Festival in 2014 or 2015.

“Richmond really loves this festival,” Hawkins said. “It’s a great way to get people out to celebrate all forms of creativity in our town.” The last event took place in 2013 at the former GRTC bus depot and drew a crowd of over 16,000.

The Manchester iteration of the festival is expected to be larger than ever, thanks in part to cross-promotion with Style Weekly’s Earth Day Festival, which will take place adjacent to the Street Art Festival on April 23rd.

Along with the arts and crafts market featuring local vendors, food trucks, and the craft beer truck of events past, the 2016 festival will feature an interpretive exhibit along the Slave Trail in front of the silos, a steamroller that will create maps of the city, a stage with live music, and an exhibit featuring the powerful images of celebrated Richmond photographer LeRoy Henderson.

Organizers say the festival is more than 85% funded thanks to sponsorships from Fountainhead Properties, Altria, and Dominion, but the group has set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise the remaining $20,000 needed to pay artists for their work and expenses, purchase paint, and secure insurance for the event. “There’s a lot of logistics going into this, and it’s all volunteer-based,” Hawkins said. “We try to help get [the artists] here and pay their expenses [and/or] give them a stipend.”

Perks for donations range from Koozies and T-shirts to the chance to steamroll your own Richmond map print and a VIP reception with festival artists. Volunteers are also needed to ensure the festival runs smoothly.

Photo: RVA Street Art Festival

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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