FREDERICKSBURG—Sixty-five years after the launch of the original Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VFMA) Artmobile, Governor Ralph Northam and VMFA Director Alex Nyerges today hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of VMFA on the Road: An Artmobile for the 21st Century. The inaugural exhibition, How Far Can Creativity Take You? VMFA Fellowship Artists, explores the history and impact of VMFA’s fellowship program, the largest of its kind in the United States, using the work of former fellowship artists to examine how different mediums and techniques are used to create unique works of art.
“The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been an important state partner since its opening in 1936, serving as the state’s flagship art museum and sharing acclaimed works of art with visitors from all parts of the Commonwealth and around the world,” said Governor Northam. “I am thrilled to launch this unique mobile art exhibition that will reach an unprecedented number of Virginians and give of all people ages an opportunity to experience our world-class artwork up close.”
Beginning in 1953 the original Artmobile program brought art exhibitions and educational programs to colleges, schools, and community organizations across Virginia for 40 years, reaching 2.5 million people. VMFA discontinued its Artmobile program in the early 1990s, but as part of its 2015–2020 strategic plan and a renewed commitment to statewide outreach, museum leadership began exploring ways to bring this beloved program back. When the Commonwealth offered VMFA an 18-wheel tractor-trailer that includes 640 feet of display space, the museum began working with exhibition design firms Riggs Ward Design of Richmond and Explus Inc. in Sterling to design and fabricate a new and improved version of the Artmobile, equipped with cutting edge technology for 21st-century visitors.
“As a statewide art museum we are charged not only with welcoming visitors to our Richmond campus, but also with bringing art and educational programs to all corners of the Commonwealth,” said VMFA Director Alex Nyerges. “VMFA on the Road will allow us to significantly extend our reach so that every Virginian will have access to authentic works of art and arts-based educational programming regardless of their location or economic status. It is our hope that VMFA on the Road will transform lives and communities through the creative power of art.”
The exhibition is divided into three sections, beginning with an introduction to VMFA and its unique history of serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. The second space is a gallery presenting artwork by fellowship winners, in-depth video interviews with the artists, VMFA curators, and educators, and a modular studio that can be used for collaborative projects. Featured artists include painters Cy Twombly and Benjamin Wigfall; photographers Sally Mann and Emmet Gowin; printmakers Dennis Winston and Ann Chenoweth; and television writer and director Vince Gilligan, among other Virginians.
From interactive features using newly digitized collection images to classroom resources from the online Learn Portal, VMFA on the Road also includes 21st-century digital components that will be fully integrated with VMFA’s broader digital outreach efforts. In preparation for the mobile museum’s arrival, local secondary schools can also participate in the new Evans 360° program, which enables students to interact in real time with a VMFA educator broadcasting live from the museum’s galleries.
Like their Artmobile colleagues from the past, VMFA on the Road educators will greet visitors, conduct tours, offer activities on-site and work with local statewide partners to give lectures at community venues as well as hands-on workshops in schools and art studios.
VMFA on the Road will visit Hurkamp Park from October 30 through November 2. Tours will be limited to school groups from October 31 through November 2, with public tours being offered on Friday, November 2, from 2:00 to 7:00 PM. The Fredericksburg visit is organized in partnership with the Fredericksburg Area Museum. Its next scheduled stop is November 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM in Lorton for the Workhouse Arts Center’s 10th anniversary. For details on the Artmobile’s schedule, visit vmfa.museum/on-the-road.
The anticipated tour schedule consists of a combination of visits to K-12 schools, short residencies at community partners such as Boys and Girls Clubs, stops at community colleges and four-year institutions, visits to Museum Level Partners, and participation in large festivals and fairs throughout the state. The initial 16-month tour will place special emphasis on reaching communities in Southwest, Southern, and Central Virginia, in addition to venues in all 21 of the Commonwealth’s planning districts. A VMFA on the Road residency will typically last three days.
About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 6,000 years. VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass nearly 40,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris, and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is also home to important collections of Chinese art, English silver, and French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British sporting, and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan, and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened its doors to the public after a transformative expansion, the largest in its history.
Schools, nonprofits hustle to feed over a half million Virginia students: ‘It’s incredible’
RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond school bus driver Tyrone McBride is still driving a big, yellow bus through Richmond neighborhoods, but these days, he’s transporting boxes of food for kids in need.
“It gets me out of the house,” said McBride, who has been a school bus driver for 18 years, “and you know, you’re doing a great deed and helping people out.”
More than a week has passed since Gov. Ralph Northam announced students will not return to school this academic year, and volunteers are still working to feed the 590,000 children in Virginia eligible for free or reduced lunches who were ordered to remain home during the coronavirus pandemic. Schools have been closed since March 16, though students were originally slated to return by March 27.
Whitcomb Court resident Simone Sanders said her children are now eating at home during the day, but she didn’t receive an increase in food stamps. One child is disabled, which prevents Sanders from being able to work.
“It’s affecting us bad, especially in the projects, and there’s nothing for the kids to do all day,” Sanders said. “And then you have to worry about your child just being outside getting shot.”
Sanders said she’s grateful for the food from Richmond Public Schools and says she occasionally gives food to neighborhood kids who say they’re hungry.
The Richmond Public Schools meal distribution program, like others around the state, continues to evolve during the coronavirus pandemic that caused a surge of Virginians to file for unemployment. Almost 46,300 Virginians filed for unemployment between March 15 and March 21. The previous week 2,706 people filed an unemployment claim, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
The program started with 10 school sites and has since grown into at least 43 sites throughout the community and 10 school sites.
Erin Stanley, director of family engagement at Richmond Public Schools, said volunteers, bus drivers and the district’s nutrition staff have made the efforts possible. Volunteers were using personal vehicles to drop off food, but RPS decided that school buses would better suit the cause.
“We did that for a couple of reasons,” Stanley said. “One, so we can get more food out, and two, because school buses are a bit more well known and probably more trusted than individual volunteers going in with their personal vehicles.”
Plastic bags filled with milk cartons, sandwiches, apples, and snacks are handed out in neighborhoods found on the Richmond Public Schools’ website. School distribution sites are open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and neighborhood times vary by location. Any student in the school district can use the program, Stanley said.
Volunteer Natalie Newfield said many families she gave meals to lost jobs in the restaurant industry.
“They’re changing the way they do deliveries, which is amazing,” Newfield said. “Every day you give them a count. If they need more food, the next day, all of a sudden your bus has more food. It’s incredible.”
Statewide efforts to feed children in Virginia
When schools closed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture activated the Summer Meals Program, which funds public schools and local organizations to serve breakfast and lunch during the summer.
Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, pressed the USDA to change its policy which required parents to have their child with them when picking up food.
Roem said it was difficult for a Prince William County mother to access food for her two children. Her daughter has an immune system deficiency caused by recent cancer treatments, making her susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.
“When you’re talking about a 7-year-old with cancer, we have to really evaluate what is it that our policy is trying to prevent that is more important than feeding a child with cancer,” Roem said.
Roem said she was able to bring groceries to the family, who live in the representative’s district. As they carried bags of food inside, Roem said the mother told her children, “We’re eating tonight.”
“I fought with the USDA for a full week and won a major, major victory for kids throughout Virginia and across the country, and especially immunocompromised kids, to make sure that they stay safe, that they stay home,” Roem said.
The USDA waived the restriction last week, and states can now choose to waive the in-person policy for students to receive food.
No Kid Hungry, a national campaign launched by nonprofit Share Our Strength, is offering emergency grants to local school divisions and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grants can help people who are trying to make meal distribution possible but may lack the equipment necessary to feed children outside of a school setting.
Sarah Steely, senior program manager at No Kid Hungry Virginia, said the grants can fund necessities like vehicles, gas, coolers, and equipment to keep food safe during distribution.
“Those might not be resources that folks already have, because those aren’t service models that were expected of them before,” Steely said, “so we’re here to support community organizations and school divisions as they figure out what it is they need to distribute to kids.”
The organization works with YMCAs, childcare centers, libraries and all 133 of Virginia’s public school divisions.
The organization recently activated their texting hotline for those unsure of where their next meal is coming from text “FOOD” to 877-877. The hotline is generally used during the summer months but was reactivated to combat food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Steely called the hotline “a tool in a bigger toolbox of resources” and encouraged families to contact their local school board for updated information about their locality.
“They count on that as a primary source of nutrition, so with schools closed, we want to make sure that the students who are accessing meals at school are now accessing those meals at home,” Steely said.
By Hannah Eason
Capital News Service
AG Herring takes further steps to crackdown on price gouging
~ Herring has sent warning letters to 42 businesses about which Virginians have complained ~
RICHMOND (March 31, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has taken further actions to crack down on price gouging in Virginia by sending warning letters to certain businesses about which Virginians have complained. The letters inform the businesses that they are the subject of a price-gouging complaint, ask for documentation pertaining to the complaint, and advise the businesses to immediately stop any illegal price gouging practices. So far, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has sent 42 letters to businesses in response to complaints made by Virginians.
“It is unfortunate that businesses will take advantage of a situation like a public health crisis to try and make more money off of necessary goods like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, face masks, or water,” said Attorney General Herring. “My office and I take price gouging complaints very seriously and I hope that these letters will send a strong message to businesses across Virginia that price gouging will not be tolerated here.”
The letters explain that the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to investigate possible violations of Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act and to bring enforcement actions to enjoin violations, seek restitution for affected consumers, and recover civil penalties, attorney’s fees, and expenses. The letters seek certain documentation from the businesses regarding their pricing practices before and after Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 12, 2020. Importantly, the letters warn the businesses that the failure to cease and desist from engaging in any unlawful price gouging may be considered evidence of a willful violation for purposes of an award of civil penalties under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency triggered Virginia’s Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act, which prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty-day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicines, personal protective gear and more. The basic test for determining if a price is unconscionable is whether the post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for the same or similar goods or services during the ten days immediately prior to the disaster.
Additionally, last week Attorney General Herring joined 32 attorneys general in urging Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart, and Craigslist to more rigorously monitor price gouging practices by online sellers who are using their services.
Suspected violations of Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Act should be reported to Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for investigation, as violations are enforceable by the Office of the Attorney General through the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Consumers can contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section for information or file a complaint:
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – March 30, 2020
Governor Northam issues statewide stay at home order
Governor Ralph Northam today, March 30, 2020, issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.
The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Three closing certain non-essential businesses, prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people, and directing all K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. A Frequently Asked Questions guide about Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here.
For the latest information about the COVID-19 outbreak, visit virginia.gov/coronavirus or CDC.gov/coronavirus.
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – March 27, 2020
Virginia U.S. Attorneys issue statement on Virginia recommendations regarding medical prescriptions during COVID-19 pandemic
On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver, in response to a surge in demand of potential treatments for COVID-19 for drugs commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, lupus, malaria, and bacterial infections, reminded physicians and pharmacists that these life-sustaining medications should only be dispensed under specified limited circumstances based on legitimate medical need. Dr. Oliver also warned against improper dispensing and potential hoarding of these medications.
On March 27, 2020, U.S. Attorneys Thomas Cullen and Zach Terwilliger issued a statement confirming that federal prosecutors are aware of Dr. Oliver’s warnings regarding this increased demand and potentially improper behavior by physicians and other health-care providers who may be improperly prescribing these drugs to themselves, their families, and others without a legitimate medical purpose. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, as part of their joint COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, will be closely monitoring this disturbing trend and are prepared to investigate potential violations of federal and state law committed by any individuals or entities, including physicians, dentists, and other healthcare providers, related to these prescription drugs.
“At a time when many doctors, nurses, and first responders are risking their health and personal safety to treat those affected by the coronavirus, it is incredibly disturbing that a selfish minority in that field may be undermining these valiant efforts by prescribing outside legitimate medical practice,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen. “We will work closely with our federal, state, and local partners to identify unscrupulous physicians and other health-care providers who are putting their own well-being ahead of those with a true medical need and hold them accountable under the law.”
“Our office is committed to protecting the public at this critical time, including Virginians who rely on life-sustaining prescription drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger. “We will act swiftly in coordination with our law enforcement partners to safeguard these critical medications for those who need them against healthcare providers who improperly dispense them.”
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, or need more information about COVID-19, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva/covid-19-fraud
For more information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva
To report fraud directly to the FBI, please visit their website at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx