Sign The Petition for A Vibrant Richmond Arts Park Under Manchester Bridge!


In a city recently ranked second in the nation for public art, Richmond artist Ian Hess is looking to transform the underutilized space beneath the Manchester Bridge into a hub of creativity and culture. Hess, a 32-year-old local artist and business owner of art supply store Supply, has unveiled a proposal for a public arts park designed to foster the growth of Richmond’s art scene by providing a dedicated space for artists and the community to come together.

Support this initiative and sign the petition HERE

Background of the Initiative

Ian Hess, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s nationally ranked Arts program and the proprietor of Supply, a local art supply store, is deeply embedded in Richmond’s art community. Recognizing both the city’s potential and its challenges, Hess has become an advocate for creating more supportive structures for artists within the city. Despite its high ranking on the USAToday Best List for public art, Richmond lacks a dedicated public arts park, a gap Hess aims to fill with his proposal.

The Vision for the Arts Park

The proposed arts park would utilize the area under Manchester Bridge, transforming it into an outdoor gallery and performance space. Hess’s design includes concrete wall structures that are 24 feet long, 3 feet wide, and range from 9 to 18 feet in height. This configuration provides ample space for artists to create large-scale artworks and for visitors to experience art in a dynamic, open environment. The initial cost estimate for constructing the park is $455,000.

Strategic Location and Features

The chosen location under the Manchester Bridge offers several advantages: it is readily accessible for construction equipment and lies close to existing infrastructure such as bike paths, a walkway, a rock climbing wall, and an existing trash disposal system. These features make the site not only suitable for artistic endeavors but also for public gatherings, making art part of everyday urban experience.

Community and Artist Support

The need for such a space is evident in the success of the RVA Street Art Festival, an event that has significantly impacted Richmond’s cultural landscape. The festival has been a platform for both established and emerging artists to showcase their talents while attracting thousands of visitors each year.

City Response and Future Prospects

While the city of Richmond has acknowledged the value of Hess’s proposal, officials suggest beginning with a smaller-scale pilot project to demonstrate the concept’s effectiveness. This cautious approach aims to balance enthusiasm for the project with practical considerations about location, scale, and community impact.

RVA Art Park 2024_RVA Magazine
courtesy of Katie Cortez, Cortez Architecture + Design

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the optimism surrounding the proposal, Hess has voiced concerns about the city’s hesitancy to fully embrace the project. He points out that minor bureaucratic hurdles are often presented as reasons to stall such innovative initiatives. Nonetheless, Hess remains committed to advocating for a space that not only showcases art but also cultivates a community around it.

Broader Implications for Richmond’s Art Scene

The establishment of a public arts park under Manchester Bridge could significantly enhance Richmond’s reputation as a destination for artists and cultural enthusiasts from around the world. By creating a space that encourages artistic expression and community engagement, Richmond could elevate its status from a city with artistic potential to one that is a central hub of art in the East Coast.


Ian Hess’s proposal for a public arts park is more than just a plan for beautification—it’s a vision for economic and cultural revitalization through the arts. By investing in this project, Richmond could provide its artists with the infrastructure they need to thrive and attract global attention to its burgeoning art scene. The proposal represents a step towards transforming Richmond into a city where art is not only appreciated but is also actively fostered and integrated into the fabric of urban life.

Source material for this article can be found HERE

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

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