In July 2004, the City of Richmond passed the Richmond Arts Strategy that included a recommendation to improve communication between arts groups and strengthen the arts community as a whole. In January 2005, Gateway Theatre brought together renters using the facility to talk about what they would like in an ideal facility for Richmond. A Board, mission and mandate were formed. The Richmond Arts Coalition (RAC) formally became a Society on November 1st, 2005, with a membership of artists, arts organizations and patrons of the arts.
Gateway Theatre came on board as RAC’s administrative sponsor, Innovation Networks as the IT sponsor, and Richmond Review as media sponsor. In 2006, RAC received endorsement from the City of Richmond Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee and the Spirit of BC Committee and formed partnerships to complete a Cultural Scan Map and Economic Impact Report for Richmond.
A new membership brochure was created in 2007 to reflect founding membership status. RAC also took over database management from Gateway Theatre and began sending out e-blasts with information on upcoming events. RAC invited VANOC to make a presentation to Richmond artists and arts organizations regarding the cultural Olympiad. A further presentation of funding opportunities leading up to the 2010 Olympics was made on April 1st, 2008.
At the 2007 AGM, the membership confirmed RAC’s need to be an advocacy organization and thus, RAC was unable to receive charitable status. The society retains its not-for-profit status.
RAC launched its website in 2008 thanks to the support of Innovation Networks.
In 2013, RAC established an Endowment Fund with the Richmond Community Foundation. The funds from the endowment, once large enough, are intended to be used to supply monetary awards for the Richmond Arts Awards, which RAC helps administer.
Also in 2013, RAC completed an outreach project within the community, thanks to a City of Richmond project grant. The project included receiving relevant results from surveys of artists, arts organizations and the general public about the state of the arts in Richmond. RAC was re-branded with a new logo. In 2014, RAC received another City of Richmond project grant and contracted someone to research creative ideas for businesses and the arts to work together.
In 2015, RAC was invited by the Richmond Art Gallery to organize and host a month-long juried exhibition of local artists, known as ArtRich. ArtRich 2015 was hugely successful, with over 200 people at the opening reception and over 1,600 visitors to the gallery over the month. It also enhanced RAC’s profile in the community.
As part of Canada 150, ArtRich 2017 celebrated connections to Canadian culture as well as local artists, and was extremely well received. In 2018, with some funding from Tourism Richmond, RAC launched a new website design with focuses on providing local artists with landing pages for their work, a place to highlight individual artists and organizations, an easily accessible calendar on local arts events, and a listing of opportunities for local artists.
In both 2018 and 2019, we collaborated with the Steveston Historical Society to find and pay performers at their annual Songs in the Snow: A Vintage Christmas events. In 2019, the funding for the artist fees came generously from the BC Arts Council.
Also in 2019, we made use of our endowment fund to begin a financial award to go along with the Youth Arts Award at the annual Richmond Arts Awards (which we continue to collaborate on with the City of Richmond). We also had our most successful ArtRich exhibition yet, with 195 submissions from 120 artists, and 63 artists featured.
In 2020, amid the pandemic, we continued our collaboration with the City of Richmond on the Richmond Arts Awards, including the financial Youth Arts Award. We continued our annual support for the Richmond Maritime Festival, convincing the City of Richmond to go ahead with a safe, eleven day digital artistic celebration; we employed 99 artists, artisans and heritage performers, thanks in part to a Canadian Heritage grant. We supported Songs in the Snow’s digital transition also, funding 23 arts professionals thanks to a grant from the BC Arts Council.
On a continuing basis:
- Use our website to highlight member artists and arts organizations, to provide the most in-depth Richmond arts events calendar on the internet, and to provide other useful information
- Run a weekly Member Feature on the website and in social media, highlighting members on a rotating basis
- Use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to connect the public to artists and arts events
- Maintain a roster of emails (members and people who have indicated an interest) and use it to send out regular e-blasts containing information of interest regarding the arts
- Compile a monthly list of arts events and artist opportunities and provide it to the Richmond News, the Richmond Sentinel, and Tourism Richmond; post it on our website and social media; and send it out in our e-blast
- Co-produce the annual Richmond Arts Awards with the City. Provide a representative to sit on the awards committee. Encourage nominations for these awards
- Annually seek out performers and funding to pay those performers for the Songs in the Snow: A Vintage Christmas event series
- Participate in City of Richmond Arts Strategy steering committees and community feedback events
- Stimulate projects and encourage artists and organizations to apply for City Arts & Culture grants
- Distribute questions about arts issues to City Council, provincial and federal election candidates and publicize the results
- Speak regularly with Richmond’s city, provincial and federal representatives
- Advocate on arts issues within the city
- Advocate for opportunities for artists and cultural groups to participate in major events in the city
- Advocate for extra spaces in the City to enable performance, rehearsal, education, creation, and exhibition activities
- Annually apply for and receive Canadian Heritage funding to hire artists for the Maritime Festival. Over $315,000 has been provided to date to hire performers to enhance the event
- Received a grant from Spirit BC for Winterfest 2011 to hire artists
- Co-hosted three Art at Work Symposiums with the City
- Partnered with the City of Richmond, Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Gateway Theatre, and BC Children’s Art & Literacy Society in commissioning the 2008 cultural scan and economic impact study.
- Provided information to the City about how arts groups were affected by BC government funding cuts
- Advocated to the Provincial government to stop the cuts to the arts in Access Gaming funding. Responded to the Gaming Grants Distribution Review.
- Lobbied Richmond City Council to have a separate City Grant program for arts
- Provided a representative to the Olympic Torch Relay Community Task Force to advance programming of local artists
- Assisted Speed Skating Canada in creating local art on speed skating for their pavilion and for sale at the Olympics
- Participated in Civic Study Circles
- Identified arts opportunities for winners of a Tourism Richmond contest
- Provided several Board members to sit on the Steering Committee for a fishing mural at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Because arts and culture are at the heart of communities and voicing support is important!
The Richmond Arts Coalition mandate includes advocacy for arts and culture to all levels of government.
New Facilities: The Richmond Arts Coalition continues to lobby for new Performing and Visual Arts Centres in Richmond. The current vision for the new venue has developed through discussions with various cultural groups.
Funding: RAC participates with Canadian Arts Coalition, BC Alliance for Arts and Culture and PACT advocacy campaigns. It is important that there is one message being sent to the Federal Government.
Elections: We regularly poll federal, provincial, and municipal (mayoral, city council, and school trustee) candidates for their views on important local arts issues, and share those responses with artists and voters in Richmond.
The Richmond Arts Coalition will continue its efforts to advocate on behalf of all artists and arts and culture groups in an effort to make Richmond an appealing and artistically rich city for everyone.