Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Better Ideas for Richmond Nightlife

Two articles, one on STYLE Weekly’s back page and the other on the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, focus on fostering nightlife, sports and entertainment in Richmond. For a change, it was refreshing to read about proposed developments that make sense. In other words no one was promoting the shoving of professional baseball into parts of the city that only make sense to certain would-be real estate profiteers. And there was no boostering for a Downtown Performing Arts Center project that makes no sense, except to other would-be real estate profiteers.

In writing “What Would Nashville Do?" for STYLE Weekly Don Harrison, of Save Richmond fame, suggests the City of Richmond need look no further than its own rich music history when it wonders how to put its best foot forward.

“...By comparison [to Nashville], Virginia’s less-celebrated musical traditions have been largely fractured and shunted aside, save for a recent music heritage trail. As for Richmond’s efforts to honor indigenous song, city boosters (working with experts assembled by Joel Katz) deserve credit for snagging the National Folk Festival. But after that prestigious music and folk-life event exits the city in 2007, we’ll be left with our nice statue of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a historic black theater called the Hippodrome that no one has any interest in, and the same hefty meals tax.

“How about this as a permanent follow-up to the Folk Festival: Richmond as the home of a Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Museum, an institution designed to spotlight the region’s formidable musical past, as well as to highlight today’s contemporary hit-makers and tradition-bearers. Heck, you can throw in Elliot Yamin of “American Idol” too (the T-D will no doubt insist on it).”

In “A rebirth for the Boulevard” Michael Martz reports on the sports and entertainment future developing naturally near The Diamond.

“...Instead, the lure of city living, with restaurants and a 14-theater movie complex planned nearby, is pulling one of Richmond's venerable manufacturing districts into the future. Old factories are turning into condominiums from Hermitage Road into Scott's Addition. A new kind of museum is about to take shape along Leigh Street. A cookie factory and a steel assembly are giving way to new places to live and play along West Broad Street and North Boulevard. A fast-growing university is pushing to create a major public athletic complex around The Diamond.”

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