By Jacob Geiger
Work It, Richmond
When Jimmy Budd talks about helping Richmond break the glass ceiling, he isn't out to help women land top corporate jobs.
To Budd, the RVA glass ceiling "is about major markets looking at Richmond and not thinking there is big-time talent here," he said Tuesday at a C3 breakfast meeting in Manchester.
Budd and Joey McCullough, co-founders of Nightlife Promos Inc., "think Richmond is a hidden treasure of untapped resources, and we're finally starting to see followers and sponsors who believe in what we are doing."
The two think Richmond has people with the fashion and musical talent to make a national impact. But it's harder to catch the attention of the national kingmakers in those industries when you're not based in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.
Social media helps artists from out-of-the-way markets gain a larger following, Budd said, citing Justin Bieber as an example. But the ease of access to YouTube and Facebook also means good artists can be lost in the huge tidal wave of bad music posted online.
Budd almost gave up on promoting Richmond talent. After growing up near Philadelphia, he came to the University of Richmond for college. Eager to start his own promotion company, a few years after school he sold everything and packed his car for the cross-country move to LA.
"At the last minute I said, 'this isn't right,'" Budd said. "Pretty soon after that a friend introduced me to Joey, and it all started to fall into place."
Budd said the lack of promotion companies helped keep him in town. On one trip to Venice Beach, Calif., he said it was impossible to go more than a block without 15 people handing out CDs, pictures and flyers. That sort of competition doesn't happen in Richmond, he noted.
Budd and McCullough are two of the leading organizers for RVA Fashion Week, held for the fourth time in April. The event showcases up-and-coming designers, especially those with local ties, but the organizers hope future fashion weeks will include some bigger names. Before that can happen, Budd said, they need to build a bigger following and fan base that would be willing to buy enough tickets to make big-name visits a financial reality.
Nightlife is also organizing an electronica music festival near Charlottesville (it represents several electronica artists) and hopes to organize one in Richmond if the first attempt is successful.
Whatever the industry, McCullough said he and Budd want to see local talent get more attention.
"Our goal is to expose Richmond, facilitate growth in these industries and showcase the talent that's here," McCullough said.