First Fridays in black & white

I’m Marc Cheatham. I run The Cheats Movement Blog. I started The Cheats Movement in late January to highlight all the diverse and wonderful things happening in the City of Richmond. Richmond is an amazing place to be right now; the art, comedy, music, festivals, you name it – RVA is moving in the right direction. One of the staples of Richmond resurgence is the First Fridays Art Walk.

The Art Walk on Broad Street has helped to spotlight amazing talent in RVA. Retail business, non-profits, and a growing culinary scene have all benefited from the monthly event. In addition, the First Fridays Art Walk has helped to change the public image of a once dangerous and economically dying part of the capital city.

In the face of recent criticism and complaints that First Fridays has “gotten out of control,” I would like to share my photos showing a far different, more positive, aspect of First Fridays. A First Fridays that is as diverse and happening as Richmond itself. I do this not to ignore specific problems; things like fights and vandalism are wrong and against the law. Knuckleheads should be held accountable. But First Fridays is an event that we, as a RVA community, should be discussing how to expand; not reduce. This is the time for RVA to move forward and spotlight the wonderful parts of this great city!

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Marc Cheatham

Marc Cheatham is the creator of The Cheats Movement Blog. The Cheats Movement is a forward looking blog designed to highlight the city of Richmond and all of its diversity through photos, art, film, and music.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Nice perspectives on what remains one of #RVA’s signature and important events.

  2. Becca on said:

    Beautiful photos.

  3. Great photos, and I totally agree with you, Marc.

  4. This is so awesome!

  5. So beautiful, thank you for such a thoughtful collection of images!

  6. These are amazing. First Fridays looks to be the best thing in Richmond. Why cancel it.

  7. Cynthia Grier Lotze on said:

    Thanks for this! First Fridays is the only thing drawing people downtown to wander and look – other than Segway tours, of course. :) We’ve got to keep it going.

  8. This is wonderful! Just like RVA. d’aww.

  9. Awesome Photos Marc! And I saw the “Can I Get A Deal” vid footage on the JPS sight as well. Good to see some positive representation from the RVA hip hop community! I’ve been going to RVA First Friday the past couple of years and I lived in Philly from 2003-2006 where FF has been successfully in effect there for almost a decade so I know, in many ways, what the RVA event is, has been, and hopes to be.

    The recent problems at First Fridays are a reflection of a larger part of Richmond itself. Through budget cuts, negligence, or simply not caring, most of the inner city neighborhoods like Wickham, Gilpin and Mosby have lost access to positive, commmunity based activities for the urban youth. Most of the people in the city really don’t care about that bc it doesn’t effect them and they can turn a blind eye to it. That is, until it spills into the weekly Artwalk and they can no longer ignore it. The craziness that happens on FF happens in some neighborhoods every weekend bc the kids don’t have anything else to do.

    I think reducing the FF problems to race is oversimplifying bc as long as I have been going there the population has been positively diverse. The issues started arriving when the restless youth found out there was a monthly “street party” and decided to take part. And while many of them are simply looking for somewhere to be or “be seen,” some of them are looking for mischief and/or trouble. That’s kids unfortunately, and when you add a disenfranchised or “nothing to lose” dimension to the kids’ mentality then it can mean trouble for everyone. It only takes a few trouble makers to get everyone worked up.

    My two cents towards a positive solution would be to develop an event that caters to those teens that have nothing else to do. The majority of kids that come aren’t there for the art, the culture, or even the music. They’re there bc there is nothing better to do on Friday night so why not go where all the people are?

    Making a teen focused event for them on First Friday may help the immediate problem, but to rectify the true causes of restlessness in RVA’s urban youth we should be looking at long term solutions that give the kids positive things to do on the weekends and community based centers that actually help the community rather than dumping 100s of thousands of dollars into private businesses like CenterStage and the Hippodrome which do nothing for the community at large.

    Thanks again for representing Marc!

  10. Jason S. on said:

    That is a wonderful idea Mikemetic. I hope somebody takes up that project.

  11. Jason S. on said:

    I completely agree with you Mikematic, however, this past FF did have an alternative event just for teens. It still got out of control. It will probably take some time and revision to adequately address this conflict. Hopefully the deeper issue can be resolved in time.

  12. I’d be curious to know what the teen event consisted of and where it was held bc those would be key factors in it’s effectiveness. Or it may be too late to divert people. I’m not sure but, as I said, it’s a reflection of the city as a whole so even if a special event were to divert traffic for the night the base problem still exists:

    What positive, FREE options do urban teens have at night on weekends?

    Is that something City Hall should be looking at? Most definitely. And once the city adopts the attitude that this is a problem for the whole city EVERY Friday then there can start to be some resolution. Granted that won’t solve the immediate problem of First Friday fighting and vandalism but it will help make the city more livable for everyone and everyone will in turn benefit. First Fridays might have to suffer til then as a product of City Hall’s own lack of concern and planning for the youth. I guess they never expected it to overflow into their own front yard and now no one can close the gate…

  13. Mikemetic,

    The teen event was outside at CenterStage, on the lot. It was a collaboration with Parks and Rec, the Police dept, SMG and CenterStage.

    Great shots, btw., I agree!


  14. I just read everyone’s comments about my posted and I just want to thank everyone so much for 1. caring enough to comment on this issue (such and important issue for the city) and 2. the wonderful feedback regarding my photo project. I would really love for all you to stay engaged with the through my blog, facebook, or twitter. Special thanks to Ross who hook this up. Cheats

  15. James tepe on said:

    I love the one of the kids proudly displaying their violent gang association or respect with the very common gang hand signs. Murder and drugs are a central theme of these gangs, but thats not news. Great shots and an accurate representaion of FF. Thanks for sharing.

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