Leading up to our next Shop Local Day event on Saturday, November 8, Chesapeake Bank wants to highlight some of the participating merchants throughout the region who are offering shoppers a little extra to come out and support their community businesses.
The Rappahannock Art League, founded in 1949, is the oldest and largest visual arts organization in the area. A not-for-profit organization, RAL’s home is a cooperative gallery run by volunteers. Many events take place in the gallery including monthly forums, workshops and receptions. Learn more about the Rappahannock Art League in their profile below.
Business Name: Rappahannock Art League
Contact: Hope Towner
Contact information: Website, Facebook or by phone at 804-436-9309
Shop Local Day Deal: Enter a drawing to win a $100 Gift Certificate. May be applied to any purchase at the Studio Gallery!
Store information: Rappahannock Art League is located at 19 North Main Street in Kilmarnock. Visit the studio Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Chesapeake Bank: It looks like RAL offers many great services to the community – from the gallery to exhibits to tours. Can you tell us more about your offerings?
Hope Towner: Rappahannock Art League Studio Gallery has many events. We produce a changing monthly show in our Exhibit Room, host monthly art forums and lectures, hold First Friday receptions, lead bus tours to nearby museums and galleries and teach adult workshops and summer workshops for kids. We welcome the general public to all of these events. In addition, the gallery provides a creative environment for our member artists to share ideas and techniques. RAL artist development groups meet regularly including the Life Drawing Group, Tuesday Painters (an informal painting group), the Photography Group and more.
CB: What does shopping local mean to you?
HT: Shopping local should be encouraged throughout our community. Supporting local businesses keeps our downtown vibrant. It is also a great way to learn about all the wonderful things our community has to offer.
CB: What service or product do people come to you most for?
HT: Everything in the Studio Gallery, including our monthly shows, is for sale. All the artwork is made by local artisans. There is so much talent in our midst!
CB: What is one of the biggest challenges you face in your business, and how are you dealing with it?
HT: As a non-profit organization, we rely heavily on our membership dues and other donations. We are constantly on the lookout for new grants and new ways to encourage contributions. The Amazing Raise has been a wonderful event to participate in (and many of our local businesses do!).
CB: How did you get started in the industry you are in? We’d love to hear any details on your business story.
HT: I got started in the non-profit business right after college. I started in the theater world. After several years in D.C., I decided to get my Masters degree at American University in the Arts Management program. Since then, I’ve worked in Tucson, San Jose and Berkeley, Calif. But I always spent my vacation time here in Kilmarnock. My parents have lived here for 30+ years, so when it was time to come home, I couldn’t think of a better fit for me than RAL. I’ve been learning a lot about the visual arts, maybe I’ll even dabble in the arts myself!
CB: You’re the only paid employee of RAL, right? Are you volunteer-run otherwise? Tell us about that.
HT: Yes, I am the only paid employee, albeit part-time. We are a cooperative, run by volunteers including our Officers and our Board of Directors. Every artist who has opted to display in the gallery is required to work three hours per month – but many members who aren’t exhibiting volunteer as well. Just as in any business, there are lots of jobs to be filled, and I’m grateful that we have such a wonderful group of dedicated members!