Thursday, May 07, 2009

Richmond's anti-show biz attitude

"The Show Mustn't Go On" is a new piece I've written about Richmond's awkward relationship to the entertainment industry. It blames politicians from 50 years ago for using laws and taxes to set in motion an anti-show biz attitude that is still walks City Hall's corridors like a zombie.
The Byrd Machine’s brain-trust did not want black students and white students matriculating together. And, it sure as hell didn’t want them dancing to rock ’n’ roll music together in public spaces. Some readers may not remember how much the bizarre anti-rock ’n’ roll movement of that era was fueled by fears to do with race.
Click here to read the entire article at


Anonymous said...

I am sure some of what you are talking about is due to old apartheid, but I would say its different today. It's less politically correct to use race as an excuse to maintian corporate control.

I predict as Center Stage opens and goes belly up (again) we will see more of a movement towards getting rid of the admission tax (at least for Center Stage). The revenue will be made up other taxes and fees on Richmond citizens- unless they organize and revolt.

Paul H said...

I don't know the history on this, but some of it is just that history. Apartheid, Jim Crow andc Massive Resistance are straw men.

The state of Virginia needs to reform its liquor laws, abolish state stores, and archaic rules that punish bars.

Dumping the Dillon rule would also help harmonize laws between City and County and foster regional cooperation.

Let's give Center Stage a week or two before we write it's obituary.

F.T. Rea said...

Paul H,

Don't know what you mean about "straw men." My point in the article at is that the habits lingering from the Massive Resistance policies have been hurting the Richmond entertainment scene for a long time.

As far as CenterStage goes, I'm writing a piece on that now. It will say the City of Richmond should not be in the theater business.

To illustrate that point quickly, just take look at how the Landmark Theatre operates.

Paul said...

Straw Man - To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting itIn your case it is preemptive. By tieing your case to "the Byrd Machine" and racism you blend the issues. Disagreeing with your thesis forces me to distance myself from your straw men.

That's what I mean.

F.T. Rea said...

Paul H,

Blending is not what I did. I said one thing had led to another. There's a difference.

The main reason for the anti-show biz policies today is habit, not racism. But the habit formed 30 and 40 years ago when department heads were hired by people with what was a racist agenda.

One of the Byrd Machine's chief purposes in the 1950s and '60s was to keep blacks and whites separated in every way they could. You can't really argue that. It's like Holocaust denial.

In this piece I was connecting dots, so people could understand one of the hidden reasons why Richmond has been so weird about stifling the entertainment indistry.

Meade Skelton said...

I'm not sure about the race issues, but as an Entertainer,I do wish Richmond would appreciate me more. I love Richmond, but I never get back the love!

Paul said...

I feel the same way.

F.T. Rea said...

Meade Skelton, Paul H,

My observations about Richmond's anti-show biz attitude come from experience. I had to pay that admissions tax when I ran a movie theater for 12 years. The men who owned the Moondance and the Flood Zone are good friends of mine. I've had conversations on this issue with them, and with other friends in entertainment for decades.

My reason for writing the piece was that those of us who do have firsthand experience with that attitude, the taxes and heavy-handed regulations, know that most people in Richmond don't realize how much negative effect all that has had.

As far as the connection to racism goes, either you know Virginia's history or you don't. If you don't understand that Richmond still struggles with some bad habits that were formed during the Jim Crow Era then I can't help you.

Meade Skelton said...

Racism is everywhere. If you want to see real racism try Boston, or Detroit. Richmond is far from perfect, but racially harmonized much more than most cities I have been to. Stop playing the race card, please.

F.T. Rea said...

Meade Skelton,

Stop playing the stop-playing-the-race-card accusation!

Look here, I wrote about a piece of history that is still causing trouble. This story had nothing to do with which city in the USA has more trouble with racial issues.

You probably shouldn't read SLANTblog. And, you definitely should stop trying to bully me with clich├ęs.

Picard said...

Yeah, get off Terry's back. Who said you could comment here? Stop reading and go away.

Meade Skelton said...

I do apologize. It was very rude of me to make such accusations. I was just a little concerned that this would turn into something against my beloved Richmond. Its just that yes, Richmond has had racial issues, but so does every town. I don't really see how it ties in to the music. I hope you didn't take offense. It was very Un-Richmond of me to do so.