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Roanoke Arts Scene Changing

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The Roanoke arts scene is changing.

Next week, Max Mitchell is opening a gallery in downtown Roanoke called "Roanoke Art Works."

"I think there's real potential for Roanoke being a serious art market," Mitchell said. "There's been a lot of galleries closing, the art scene's kind of shrunk in a lot of ways, but there are still people who believe in it and there are still galleries opening up."

"It's changing and some of it's got to do with Roanoke's pulse," said Brian Counihan, the Marginal Arts Festival Director, who showed us a map of more than two dozen shuttered spots like galleries and theaters. Some spots have moved locations and others have closed completely.

"I think there's a number of different ways the arts community can be supportive of the city and I think in return, the city can support the arts," Counihan said.

"Downtown cities and art, they evolve over time," said Roanoke City manager Chris Morrill, who added the economy's been tough for artists and many are collaborating. "Is there a way we can help them have a more predicable funding stream that can help them be successful?"

The city created "Percent for Art," a program in which one percent of new Roanoke building projects are dedicated to the arts, enabling students to study and create art, funding public pieces and contracting with art agencies to provide arts in the community.

"Maybe people who have a certain idea about what art is like in Roanoke and what kind of art is in Roanoke, kind of re-evaluate it," Mitchell said.