ImpactAlpha, May 13 – Sixty percent of Richmond’s public housing is located in one city district, an area called East End. That area is also quickly gentrifying, in a city whose gentrification trends are accompanied by high rates of displacement of its existing, primarily black residents.
Virginia Community Capital, a community development financial institution, has invested $340,000 to support a community arts center in an abandoned church at the edge of East End.
The center, called Oakwood Arts, was founded by Virginia Commonwealth University adjunct professor Shannon Castleman in 2017. “I saw how quickly the neighborhood was changing and thought about creating an inclusive and safe place for old and new neighbors to interact and address changes through art,” she said.
The center focuses on fostering creative professionals and skills, offering classes for youth and young adults on graphic design, photography, and animation and teaches film production and video editing. It also hosts community workshops and events.
Virginia Community Capital’s loan was made to enable Oakwood Arts to acquire and renovate the church property.