ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Roanoke Arts Commission is ready to welcome artists who live, work, or are civically involved in the Star City community to a virtual event Tuesday evening as the commission kicks off the Roanoke Artists Network.

According to city officials, this kick-off event — which will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25 — will feature the release of the first of at least five calls for artists as the community prepares for Roanoke’s “Year of the Artist.” The Roanoke Artists Network will then meet at the same time each week through the end of February.

If you are interested in participating, you can find more information or register to receive login information by following this link.

This news comes as the City of Roanoke plans to invest $250,000 into community-driven and artist-led projects in a variety of areas for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

“A year ago, with adoption of the City 2040 Comprehensive Plan and the annual Strategic Plan, we reinforced our commitment to enhancing the vitality of our neighborhoods,” said Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell. “Expanding public art efforts is one way, we’re exploring alignment with the established goals in these plans. We’re inviting artists to explore with us, create with us, and help us effect change.”

Over the next six months, officials say that artists will be invited to present strategies, respond to calls for art, and collectively explore the role of creativity in tackling community issues and making the most of Roanoke’s resources. Two key elements of this strategy will be artist trainings and the creation of an active learning network.

Then, starting in July, the community can expect to see artists at work in various ways as they engage neighbors, explore issues, and advance community goals.

“We want to co-create these projects with our community of artists,” said Roanoke Arts Commission Chair Cari C. Gates. “We know the arts can help us form a healthier, more prosperous, and more welcoming community. The arts can foster strong and effective citizen engagement and connect us in surprising ways. With these projects, we’re setting out to learn how this can be uniquely done here in Roanoke.”  

The projects are being funded by an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant, a Grants for Art Projects grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and additional funding from the City of Roanoke, according to officials.