RICHMOND, Va. – On a gray Monday, the top brass of the Flying Squirrels baseball team announced that the RVA Street Art Festival will transform the Diamond for its fourth, colorful installation.
Chuck Domino, Chief Executive of the team, Vice-President Todd “Parney” Parnell, and board members of the RVA Street Art Festival talked about why they chose the location for the event, which will take place Sept. 22 -24, 2017.
“We said that we were going to be different and do different things at the Diamond than had previously been done,” Domino said. “When I had heard about this possibility, I thought this fits right into it.”
The Flying Squirrels have nested at the stadium since 2009.
“The unique architecture of the Diamond lends itself well to what we want to do here,” he continued, “in a thoughtful and artful way, transform and put a lot of color into the stadium.”
The structure was built in 1985 and recent debate has swirled around renovating or rebuilding another stadium for the team – especially as development in the surrounding area has exploded.
“We have a huge opportunity to create something very positive here using art,” said festival board member Ed Trask, a local artist well known for his murals around the city. “We can do things that let people have this inclusive event with art, baseball, and family. “
This will be the biggest canvas yet for the festival. Previous venues have been the Power Plant at Canal Walk (2012), former GRTC bus depot (2013), and the Manchester Southern States silos (2016).
Trask said the event will incorporate mixed media art, including murals, landscape art, sculpture and projection lighting. He added that they will reach out to international artists in addition to showcasing local and national talent.
The parking lot around the stadium will host live music, food and beer trucks, and also creative activities for children and adults.
Festival organizer Jon Baliles, who currently serves as the mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor for Innovation, said that “when we approached the Squirrels, we didn’t think they would go for it.”
“But I remember calling Parney and ‘I said I know you like crazy ideas and I have a really crazy idea,’” Baliles said. “He said ‘I like it, and it is crazy and let’s sit down and talk about it.’”
“This is another great example of how a facility like this can be used 12 months out of the year, not just for baseball,” Parney said. “We say this all the time, we’re not just a baseball team — we try to be an integral fabric of this community 12 months a year.”
The RVA Street Art Festival’s mission is “to support arts education for children through community-based events.”
“Through these initiatives, we are focused on discovering and showcasing local and national artistic talent and revitalizing neighborhoods in need of creativity and love,“ founders said.
Proceeds from the festival will support Connor’s Heroes, an organization that gives support and companionship to children in cancer treatment and their families. Other recipients may also be named in the coming months, as more details are announced.