State of RAAC

January 2024

During 2023 we celebrated four decades of supporting the arts in Rappahannock County—creating, partnering, sponsoring, and producing arts events. We’ve become a core player in making our rural county a lively and vital place to live.

I’m delighted to say that RAAC enters 2024 stronger and more engaged, energetic, and creative than ever. We do this as an all-volunteer organization and rely on the financial support, artistic contributions, and participation of the broader community—you!

Home at Last! After four decades as a virtual organization, we now have a place to call home—the Little Washington Theatre. All of this happened officially on December 1st thanks to a beyond-generous gift from Nancy Raines—thank you Nancy! This completes a circle that began at our inception when a group of individuals rented the historic movie house at 291 Gay Street for films, follies, concerts, and storytelling. Now, after 40+ years, RAAC has come home to where it began. Our Board is eager to steward this community gem and has already started to make improvements.

Children’s Arts Programs — A strategic initiative for RAAC, our children’s arts programs have become our largest offering:

  • Annual RAAC Scholarship Award to a graduating high school student
  • After-school enrichment and summer camp workshops
  • Student art contributions from five County schools showcased in the Fall Art Tour
  • Mitchell Arts Fund grants for art projects, summer chorus, private instrumental lessons, school plays, song writing workshops, and band coaching
  • Music and art activities at CCLC for our very young children
  • Arts Academy—an emerging initiative to help high school students explore, experience, and develop skills in the arts, such as master classes for musicians, internships with RAAC Community Theatre, artists in residence at the schools

Concerts — Outdoor concerts are our most popular offering:

  • Sperryville Summer Concerts (May-September)—neighbors listened and danced to their favorite local bands as they picnicked at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Thornton River. RAAC teamed with the Sperryville Community Alliance to make these free monthly outdoor concerts happen.
  • July 2nd Concert at Avon Hall—RAAC co-sponsored the John Bourgeois Concert Band to the delight of all.
  • 4th of July Festival—RAAC financed music by Gold Top before the fireworks as big crowds gathered for this popular event produced by the Sperryville Fire Department.
  • SperryFest Music—RAAC arranged for local bands to entertain happy visitors at this annual free event produced by the Sperryville Community Alliance.
  • John Jackson Piedmont Blues Festival—RAAC co-sponsored the music for this Virginia Cooperative Extension event honoring a renown Rappahannock native.
  • We kicked off 2024 with another indoor concert on January 6th featuring favorite Rappahannock singer-songwriters.

Fall Art Tour — returned in all its glory, showcasing nearly 40 studios and galleries with 80 participating artists. In 2023, we reinstituted the Headquarters Gallery as the center of gravity for the Tour. Large numbers of visitors attended the Tour and also enjoyed our local restaurants and lodgings along with seeing and buying artwork. The Art Tour now plays an important role in furthering the County’s tourism goals, and RAAC has increased participation by making the Tour free for visitors.

Community Theater — returned after a long covid-imposed hiatus with four successful productions including two stage readings, No Ordinary Person, and sold-out performances of A Christmas Carol featuring 17 children. Adding to this momentum was the arrival of new thespians ready to mount the stage!

RAAC’s Mitchell Arts Fund — continued to inject needed financial resources into the arts community—to individuals and organizations. Grants supported community performances by and for students, dance scholarships, creation and production of original music, arts and crafts camp, art and music classes, workshops and more.

Look & Listen — I invite you to subscribe to Look & Listen which is emailed biweekly. It will keep you abreast of local arts happenings during the year. You can subscribe here.

Returning Programs — Our popular programs are back:

  • Carefully curated, first-run movies restarted last fall; they’re screening monthly at the theater
  • The incredibly popular Soup&Soul morphed into Sip&Soul during 2023 as the venue shifted to Quievremont Vineyard and Winery; we anticipate alternating between Sip&Soul and Soup&Soul in 2024.
  • Talks and Film-Talkbacks resumed last fall, sometimes in partnership with other nonprofits and held at the Theater and public library.
  • Our annual Ephemeral Art Exhibition at the public park was a crowd favorite.

Financial Perspective — RAAC remains rock solid. We operate in the black, and have a contingency fund to cover challenges and opportunities such as our new theater.

Our Conviction — a community infused with the arts is stronger, livelier, and more connected. This conviction has remained true since our founding 40+ years ago.

Our organization rests on three pillars — dedicated and talented volunteers; artists, musicians and other participants who make our programs happen; and supporters who contribute to RAAC so generously. And guiding this endeavor is a Board recognized for its energy, vision, camaraderie, and thoughtfulness. Together we will continue to pursue our mission to Inspire Art and Build Community!

Thank you!
Matthew Black, President
Rappahannock Association for Arts & Community


Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community
PO Box 24
Washington, VA 22747

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