The historic Hippodrome in Jackson Ward was filled to near capacity for the “RVA Has Talent (RVAHT)” Season 2 finals. The diverse crowd was there to see Richmond’s most talented performers compete for a chance to win $2,500 for themselves and $1,000 for their Richmond-based non-profit partner. Philanthropy is a key component of the mission of “RVA Has Talent.” It’s one of the many unique ways “RVAHT has distinguished itself from the growing field of Richmond-based talent events.
“The goal for RVAHT is to build a successful brand, highlight amazing local talent, and give back to the community through support of local nonprofits,” says Joe Domino, associate producer of RVAHT.
Since the start of RVAHT in the fall of 2013, Domino has partnered with comedian and entrepreneur Micah White who serves as executive producer. Together, along with their small and nimble staff, they completed the inaugural season of RVAHT, which raised $4,000 for 16 charities, completed “Richmond City Jail Has Talent,” a workforce program for city inmates, hosted several open-mic events to showcase Richmond talent, presented a $2,500 first-prize award to Season 1 winner, Christina Johnson.
“We want to be a premier booking agency for Richmond, a one-stop shop,” explains Domino. “I know our organization is new, but Richmond has a rich talent pool and it needs to be showcased.”
RVAHT got off to a great start in 2014. Out of more 50 entries, 30 participants were selected to compete at the start of Season 2. Through three rounds of eliminations, 30 became 10. The 10 semi-finalists ultimately led to RVA’s most talented battling it out for five slots in the finals on May 31.
VCU student and songstress Emma Davis played and sang her way to the finals, keeping the hopes of her nonprofit partner (the Children’s Hospital at VCU) alive for another round. Taaluma Youth Performance Company (nonprofit partner: Culture4MyKids), whose mission is to cultivate youth through art, music, and the teaching of history, advanced to the finals by giving a dazzling performance filled with tribal dance and traditional drums. Not to be outdone, the City Dance Theater (nonprofit partner: Friends of City Dance) also moved on to the finals with a more contemporary dance performance. Unix D. McMillian (nonprofit partner: Boaz & Ruth) sung a passionate gospel song, moving the spirit of the audience. And the last finalist to advance was a young hip-hop MC who goes by the name of Young Prince Charles (nonprofit partner: RVA Feed the City).
After a series of impressive performances by the finalists, the winner of Season 2 was City Dance Theatre, a performing and competition troupe of the City Dance Program at the Pine Camp Cultural Arts Center, a division of Richmond’s Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. The proceeds from the win will help the modern dance company continue to graduate 22-30 talented Richmonders every year.
With its unique combination of diverse talent and good causes, organizers of RVAHT report that they are on the way to becoming the premier talent event in the region. And due to their community focused model, when the event succeeds so will the local nonprofits it supports.