WELCOME TO SPOTLIGHT RVA!
Hello and welcome to Spotlight RVA, Richmond, Virginia’s new community platform for theatre news, views and reviews! We’re glad you’re here, and we’d like to let you know a bit about us and how Spotlight RVA came to be.
The Richmond theatre community is dynamic and diverse, making great art fueled by a wide array of local talent. This community has become increasingly diverse and inclusive over the years. But our community of theatre critics has failed to grow and diversify with the theatre community. We at Spotlight RVA hope to remedy that by providing a free platform, mentorship and editorial services to impartial (i.e., not currently involved in local theatre in a professional or artistic capacity) theatre-lovers who might be interested in voicing their opinions, but who may need some additional training and guidance to do so.
Journalism, particularly arts criticism, is in a strange place right now. As mainstream publications struggle to stay afloat, less and less space is being given to substantial, critical commentary on local art and performance.
Spotlight RVA seeks to fill that void with fresh voices and diverse perspectives. The creators of Spotlight RVA, local theatre critics Claire Boswell and Julie Turner, feel that the shifting landscape of arts journalism is an opportunity. If the institutions of the past are shedding this type of writing, that means that barriers to becoming a “voice” in and on the arts are also dissolving, so let’s use this time to reinvent the wheel, to reframe the narrative, to build new systems that make the art of theatre criticism more accessible and inclusive.
“Things are changing in Richmond,” Turner says, “and it’s about time. As historically underrepresented communities find their voice, it’s important that the rest of us listen and respond in new ways. Our BIPOC, LGBTQIA friends deserve to have representation in all areas.”
Boswell agrees, adding that “it isn’t enough for us to have diversity onstage in Richmond. We need to work to foster diversity in local arts journalism, too.”
As members of the mostly-white Richmond Theatre Critics Circle, Boswell and Turner are committed to developing a new generation of critics that reflect the broader artistic community in our city.
“While I can’t take on the whole city, I can make a small difference in the theatre community,” Turner adds. “As a bisexual/queer person, I can speak to some issues affecting marginalized groups. As an experienced writer, editor, and theatre critic, I can offer my mentorship to young and diverse fledgling critics.”
Our first new voice in local theatre criticism, Toniraye Moss, is a writer, vocalist and dancer from Richmond, Virginia. Boswell met Moss while working on One Twenty One, a student-run literary journal at Virginia State University. Moss’ essay “The Storm-Chaser Within” caught Boswell’s eye, and soon Toniraye was enrolled in Boswell’s Fall 2021 creative writing course in creative nonfiction. During a student-teacher conference, Toniraye mentioned an interest in freelance journalism, and before long she had signed on to begin reviewing for Spotlight RVA.
Moss says she hopes to serve the Richmond theatre community by getting people outside their comfort zones. “I want readers and critics alike to challenge themselves, take a self-inventory of sorts,” she says. “As a critic, I have a platform to be able to lead by example, with the end goal being one where my community has established a firm foundation in maintaining a society where everyone is embraced, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, identity.”
Moss says she believes this is an achievable goal because she’s watched this community change in so many ways, already. She reminds us: “Richmond, Virginia led the way in correcting the wrongs of our forefathers when hundreds of protestors literally tore down the symbols of oppression all over the city. So, I have every confidence those who were a part of that very controversial time will be the very ones championing this cause for what means a true representation of diversity and inclusion that is so long overdue.”
Welcome to Spotlight RVA, the platform where we hope, with the help of this amazing, vibrant, dynamic and diverse community, to do just that!
Spotlight RVA is a community platform, and we are actively seeking more new, up-and-coming voices to add to the diverse and inclusive representation we hope to cultivate here. Are you interested in voicing your opinion on local theatre and performing arts in the city? Get in touch! Prospective critics are encouraged to reach out to us at email@example.com.