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artoberVA is back in 2021, celebrating local arts & culture

artoberVA 2021
Local dance organization Ezibu Muntu gives a pop-up dance performance for the Better Housing Coalition in 2018. (Photo Credit: Tom Topinka)

artoberVA 2021 begins this Friday with RVA First Fridays and a kick-off at Gallery 5. In its sixth year, artoberVA is a month-long celebration of arts and culture presented by CultureWorks for the Richmond and Tri-Cities region.

Through the month of October, CultureWorks encourages free and low-cost arts and culture experiences in the region, supports collaboration between artists and organizations, and sponsors special experiences for underserved communities. artoberVA 2021 brings awareness to the extensive creative ecosystem in our region by highlighting such local arts and culture events.

Last year, when Virginia experienced a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, arts and culture organizations were limited on the kinds of experiences they could offer safely. artoberVA felt the loss.

However, this year is different. With the advent of COVID vaccinations, more in-person events are scheduled. To keep the public safe, many organizations are having outdoor experiences and enforcing social distancing measures.

“We have been overwhelmed by how many people are engaging this year compared to last year. Hundreds of people have signed up,” says Erin Frye, Director of Programs and Outreach at CultureWorks. “And we’re so excited to have some big events back this year, like 2nd Street Festival and The Richmond Folk Festival.”

Of special note is ART 180’s augmented reality exhibit, Black Is YOUth 365, also opening this Friday, celebrating the voices of RVA’s Black youth. This project was created in collaboration with Hidden in Plain Site: Richmond, a local organization bringing the Black experience to Richmond in virtual reality.

As in past years, CultureWorks will also partner with one of The Better Housing Coalition (BHC) neighborhoods to bring a special art experience for the residents. This year, local musician and songwriter, Trey Charles, will create “Opportunity Open Mic” for the BHC community youth, guiding them through songwriting and performance techniques.

Visit the artoberVA 2021 calendar to find arts and culture events in October (and beyond). Look especially for family friendly and collaborative events, and stay alert - artoberVA art experiences may pop up when and where you least expect them.

This year, artoberVA 2021 offers something new - an opportunity to tell inspiring and uplifting personal stories about arts, culture, and everything in between. Stories may be submitted in writing, audio, or video. Prompts are provided. CultureWorks will feature select stories on their social media channels during October.

artoberVA runs yearly from October 1-31. Learn more about how you can participate in this year’s experiences at the link above.