Art Beat: 

News from the local arts scene.

Richmond's NorVa in the Works

The National Theatre was officially sold earlier this month. That means the building checked out, and the buyers deemed it cost-effective to turn it into a music venue. RIC Capital Ventures — the partnership between the owners of The NorVa (a concert hall in Norfolk) and the promoters of Innsbrook After Hours — had been investigating the property with the help of architectural historians to figure out how to adapt it. According to RIC partner Laurin Willis, they have a plan in place and will begin renovations in the next couple of weeks. They expect the venue to open before mid-2007.

Library Goes Netflix

In response to a demand for DVDs, the Richmond Public Library added 350 movies to its collection. And with a two-week checkout time and no fee, it might give Netflix a run for its $17.99 monthly fee. As of last week, the main branch on East Franklin Street has the American Film Institute's 100 Greatest American Movies (chosen for their critical acclaim, but also significance over time and cultural impact), plus foreign, documentary and nonfiction films on a variety of topics. Manager of Collection Development Beth Morelli says they have one of the largest library collections of new foreign and documentary films, and they hope to keep building it. The best part: The films can be reserved at www.richmondpubliclibrary.org. Take that, Blockbuster!

Jackson Ward Gets Gallery

Oct. 6 during the 2nd Street Festival, a new gallery will open at Leigh and First streets in Jackson Ward. Graphic designer and artist Ralph Hawkins is opening The Propaganda Gallery in an effort to create a sort of cultural center for the neighborhood. Hawkins says the gallery will be in tune with the culture of the neighborhood by presenting a combination of new and established artists amid 1,500 square feet. The paintings of Larry "Poncho" Brown will start things off. The Baltimore artist's works have been featured on HBO and are owned by many celebrities, such as Bill Cosby and Anita Baker.

VMFA Sitting Pretty

With its ingenious underground parking garage in the works, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has completed its fundraising drive for the expansion, exceeding the capital campaign goal by $21.8 million. The expansion, which will double gallery space, is estimated to cost $117.5 million, with $5.4 million going toward art acquisitions, $10.3 million for operations and $38.6 going into endowments. Expect to see the project progress over the next two years.

Art Center Busts Open

Removed from the East Broad Street art world, The Crossroads Arts Center at West Broad and Staples Mill has been quietly gaining momentum. It reached a milestone earlier this year, hitting $1 million in sales. The for-profit space rents exhibit carrels to 165 artists to display their work. Unlike Plant Zero, the artists and craftspeople don't work in the spaces, but use them as a sort of gathering place and way to sell their work. There are monthly juried shows and a featured artist shown in a separate gallery area. The center has just taken over an additional 8,500 square feet, bringing the total space to 19,000 square feet. A grand opening party will take place Oct. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m. S

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