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Mayor Levar Stoney Discusses His Plans for Richmond’s Arts Scene

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Style: During your first 100 days in office, you said that you wanted to complete a comprehensive performance review of every city department. Would you refer to this City Hall makeover as an aesthetic performance review?

Stoney: City Hall, like all things government, hasn’t changed very much over time. Yes, there have been some updates. I just think it’s time to showcase what Richmond has to offer. At the end of the day, we are the cultural, arts and history capital of the Commonwealth. And I want the folks who work at City Hall to see that all around them, every day they walk in the building.

Is there a particular medium, movement or piece that you’re a fan of?

You know, I have this painting of the Richmond skyline here in my office. That was given to me before I became mayor, so maybe the person thought it would come in handy one day. But whether it’s photography, abstract art, whatever, I want it in here.

Your team wants to include murals on that list. Some local female muralists are taking the art form in a new direction, so it would be hard to say that Richmond features one style of mural. Will you be able to support all of the city’s artistic trends?

Yes, and I believe that art is a great vehicle to bring the city together. When I was secretary of the commonwealth under Gov. McAuliffe, for example, I helped install works by a Richmond artist, Jeromyah Jones, who focuses on African-Americans. We displayed Jones’ work in the Patrick Henry Building, home of the governor’s executive office. But beyond the walls of City Hall, what I would especially love to do is involve underserved communities, the have-nots.

Regarding underserved communities, are you referring to the joint announcement you recently attended for the upcoming East End Festival?

You know, that was a rough day. I started at the site of a double murder suicide in Mosby Court and from there went to talk about the East End Festival. That right there is an example of us trying to fulfill One Richmond.

That’s your political platform, One Richmond. So it’s an artistic credo, too?

Yes, to create a big tent and bring people who may not live in, say, the East End or Jackson Ward, and let everyone see the good those places have to offer. And I think letting City Hall employees know about the talent living in all of Richmond’s neighborhoods, by featuring it here, would blow them away.

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