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Dominion Arts Center's Rich History

For 200 years, Richmond has had a grand tradition of coming together as a community to embrace performing arts. Beginning with the city’s first theatrical production in 1784, Richmond has shone brightly as one of the nation’s finest cultural centers. In the early nineteenth century, Richmond featured the greatest actors of the American stage including Sarah Bernhardt. Richmond’s Jackson Ward district, recognized as the “Harlem of the South,” featured the renowned Hippodrome which gave birth to such great entertainers as Richmond native Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and James Brown. Dominon Arts Center exists to reclaim and give new life to this great legacy.

The Dominion Arts Center was the dream of many and supported by many, including Mayor Doug Wilder’s City of the Future Initiative, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance for the Performing Arts and thousands of citizens across the Commonwealth. In 2001, the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation was formed to bring the dream into a reality with planning, fundraising, and development. Today, the Dominion Arts Center is a beacon of entertainment downtown and is proud to join the many talented performing arts groups in Richmond that are a part of ensuring that Richmond’s strong tradition of cultural arts continues.