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With an abundance of visual arts, theater, and dance, Richmond is more than the political capital of Virginia — it’s also the arts capital. The city’s low cost of living combined with the presence of the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts have encouraged the growth of an exciting, dynamic, and boundary-pushing arts community. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, one of the nation’s top art museums, is an anchor for the community, attracting high-profile exhibitions of work by internationally renowned artists such as Dale Chihuly and Pablo Picasso; the Institute of Contemporary Art is expected to open in 2016, providing the city with another powerhouse museum.

Richmonders gather around the myriad galleries lining Broad and Main Streets every month for the First Fridays Art Walk and each fall head to a rotating site for InLight Richmond, a large-scale installation of light-based art and performance that draws on the work of numerous artists. Beyond the galleries, the city has developed a flourishing street art scene, most notably represented by the five-year Richmond Mural Project and the colorful former GRTC bus depot, a product of the 2013 Richmond Street Art Festival.

In the performing arts, Richmond has more than half a dozen independently operating theaters, including Virginia Repertory, central Virginia’s flagship professional theater, and the Richmond Triangle Players, a leading voice in the LGBT community. Richmond CenterStage, one of the city’s largest performing arts organizations, offers touring and local theater, dance, and opera performances at the fully restored 1928 Carpenter Theatre, including select performances through the University’s Modlin Center for the Arts. The historic Landmark Theater (formerly known as the Mosque and the site of the famous “The Kiss” photograph of teen heartthrob and musical icon Elvis) faces Monroe Park.

The Richmond Ballet, the state ballet of Virginia, features modern, as well as classic crowd favorites, such as the traditional holiday performance of The Nutcracker.