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A Closer Look

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here's something both dreadful and rewarding about getting graded. Yes, we know it all goes back to childhood notions of unfulfilled parental expectation and a half-hearted desire to know where you stand against the other kids. But there's something really satisfying about that A, really devastating about that F. (Montessori kids and home-schoolers may be scratching their heads at this point -- the whole issue might in fact be lost on them. Ask your parents.)

In short, a grade tells you your place in the world, however artificial. And that's what we're going for with our Mid-Season Arts Issue. We spent last year, our 25th anniversary, looking back, ahead and around at Richmond arts. Now we've asked our critics to evaluate our place in the world and assign those observations some meaning.

Our critics spend their year considering a section of culture — one exhibition, one club, one performance at a time. Here they pull way back to consider the scene that supports those events, how well it's holding up and where it's going. They look at the state of dance, galleries, actors, classical and jazz music, and venues, and they've delivered their progress reports on this sometimes-unruly child. It's a way to get all of us on the same page culturally, encourage discussion and maybe even start a fight on the playground. — Brandon Reynolds



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