Musical theater show with ballerina

Q&A with Jennifer Maddux, Director of Education and Community Engagement at the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance

Supporting the artists of today, nurturing the artists of tomorrow and providing space for the arts to thrive is only the start of what the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA) does in Richmond. Through BrightLights Education Initiatives, RPAA works towards its goal of creating a vibrant community by increasing accessibility to enjoy and participate in the arts and offering various programs for students, educators and families. 

At the core of the RPAA is Jennifer Maddux, director of education and community engagement. Maddux started her professional career working as a teacher in the public school system. She was promoted to principal before landing her dream job with Richmond Performing Arts Alliance in 2018. 

Here are five questions with Maddux to learn more about the RPAA. 

What has been your favorite part about Richmond Performing Arts Alliance so far? 

What ISN’T my favorite part? I would say that my favorite thing about RPAA is the amazing team that I work with every day. We are a small but mighty staff, equally passionate about RPAA’s mission and the work we do. 

What do you think most people don’t realize about RPAA? 

RPAA is a backbone organization, meaning most of the work we do is behind the scenes. When members of our community come to see a Broadway show at Altria Theater or attend a performance by one of our resident companies at Dominion Energy Center, they get to enjoy the final product of a performance in a beautiful theater. We are privileged to work with the city and funders to preserve these historic venues. We truly depend on partnerships with the local government, schools and other arts organizations. 

What is the biggest takeaway from your time at RPAA? 

As a former music teacher and actor, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the arts scene in Richmond. Wow, was I wrong! There is such a rich, diverse community of artists and arts organizations who want to make an impact on the Richmond community just like us! It’s our job to work together to ensure that everyone has access to the arts. Sometimes, we achieve that goal by creating a needed program and other times we simply act as a connector between individuals and organizations. 

If $100,000 fell from the sky tomorrow, how would RPAA spend it? 

It’s incredibly important for us to first understand the need in our community. To do that, we rely on our school and community partnerships to guide where funding is placed— whether through grants, donors or the sky. After determining where the greatest need is, we’d put the funding back into the community to fulfill that identified need. 

How can people support RPAA? 

We are incredibly grateful to have the support of passionate champions of the arts who either volunteer their time or provide us with monetary gifts to help us fulfill our mission. Since we are a small staff, we regularly rely on volunteers to help us implement larger, free community programs and events like the Parking Lot Party (coming up on May 6) and the Genworth Lights Up! Youth Series. 

To learn more or get involved with the RPAA, visit https://rpaalliance.com/ or follow it on Instagram or Facebook.

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