Richmond’s newly installed Night Market connects communities and showcases the vibrancy of a cityscape re-imagined

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Richmond Night Market is a new event focused on featuring and bolstering support of Richmond’s local artisans.

Downtown Richmond, Virginia

One of the most slept on cities is Richmond, Virginia. Sort of like its native son, singer-songwriter D’Angelo, who quietly entered into the music industry then left an indelible mark, Richmond has been working to create a template for US mid-sized cities to reshape the urban space; but in a dope and funky way.

A southern destination experiencing impressive growth spurts in its economy and population—in fact many Notherners are making their way back down south—Richmond had to create the most perfect mixtape for a substantive impact traveling through all of its neighborhoods. This meant preserving the city’s history while carving out space for grand futuristic possibilities. So city officials partnered with a slew of energetic and innovative community members such as local artisans and those who flex entrepreneurial audacity, to re-imagine the southern city.

Like a perfectly paired wine tasting with fruits, cheeses and jams, Richmond’s key ingredient is to ensure that the local folk on the ground and the collective of artists in various pockets of the city could create and find comfort in fertile, sustainable living.

This is where the super-shero sisterhood enters—Melody Short and Adrienne Cole Johnson. Two women who have pushed Richmond’s art scene for over a decade, Short and Cole Johnson launch the Richmond Night Market (RNM) on Saturday, April 13 at 5 p.m.

Melody Short (top) and Adrienne Cole Johnson (bottom)

A monthly open air social gathering taking place every second Saturday, RNM runs from April to December. For nine nights, Short and Cole Johnson will curate a vibrant and interactive market in the heart of the Richmond at 17th Street Market. The monthly gathering of vendors, music and food will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Short and Cole Johnson’s mission for RNM, is to highlight creativity, commerce, and community while showcasing the layered and diverse aspects of the artistic scene. Attendees will be able to shop from local and visiting artists coming from other art meccas such as Atlanta and Brooklyn. As well, guests can participate in interactive stations at the Makerspace and the Creative Kids Hangout, and enjoy live music and a deejay to complete the night.

Featured programming at the inaugural Richmond Night Market includes Hamilton Glass, Studio Two Three, Nerd Squad, DJ Prolific, Bare Soul Yoga, Drums No Guns and the Drew Miles Trio.

17th Street Market

“We are looking forward to the Richmond Night Market joining the growing downtown arts and culture scene. This new programming will allow both visitors and residents alike to experience the arts in the same way that many international cities have for years,” says Anedra Bourne of Venture Richmond, an organization dedicated to enhancing the vitality of the city, and in particular, downtown Richmond, through initiatives that spark economic development.

Specifically aimed to highlight the city’s burgeoning community of  independent artists, during each Market, acceptance for exhibitions and vending constantly revolves. For Short and Cole Johnson, the goal is to keep the elements unique so that it becomes a natural part of your second Saturday routine.

As Richmond continues to reconcile its past and as we necessarily remind ourselves of the 400 year anniversary of the enslavement of Africans on this land, it is no coincidence that the RNM will take place at 17th Street Market, located on the banks of James River, a place where Blacks were once brought in one of the largest slave ports in the US.

“We have a lot of history to reckon with. My hope is that – at minimum – we add an additional layer and texture to the history of the space by re-programming and recharging the energy of Shockoe Bottom,” says Adrienne Cole Johnson, co-creator of the Richmond Night Market.

Shockoe Bottom

As partners with a commitment to economic justice, Short and Cole Johnson created ARTisan Cafe in 2011, an event showcasing brilliant local artisans and crafts. RNM is an extension of the cafe that helped dozens of emerging craftspeople expand their careers in the arts.

At times, the superpowers disconnect and operate in their respective strengths. Short is Director of Operations and Marketing for Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns, the only chain of Black-owned BnBs in the U.S. On the other hand, Cole Johnson, a social worker by day, is the Director of Family Engagement the Peter Paul Development Center. By night, she carries out a successful first Friday event, Wine Down Wednesday at C’est La Vie Wine Bar. Her passion to empower women is through her social initiative, The Flourish Society, a company offering holistic support for women to fully define themselves and their destinies on their own terms.

For more information go to Richmond Night Market’s Facebook page or Instagram page.

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