RAAC was born in 1982, when interested neighbors and friends came together to organize the various artistic and community events going on in the county. They were spurred into action by the impending closing of the old drive-in theater, Magic Mountain Cinema. There was also a need to find a venue for the Rappahannock Players, a group of local thespians with a large following in the county.
At that time, the old historic theater in Washington, the Gay Street Theatre, was operated by Freeman Allan who showed an eclectic mix of popular and underground movies. The Gay Street Theatre became the new venue for the Rappahannock Players until 1992. It was there that RAAC provided a home for local arts and community events including concerts and the annual talent show.
RAAC gave up their Gay Street Theatre home in the early 1990s which later became the Theatre at Washington, owned and operated by Wendy Weinberg until 2014. To this day, RAAC’s 1st Friday at the Movies are still shown there along with the Theatre’s own rich assortment of performing arts programs. Across the street was the Ki Theatre where, for many years, Julie Portman produced plays, readings and other performances. By 2008, the Ki Theatre became the new home of the RAAC Community Theatre where so many sold-out plays have been produced.
In its early years, RAAC employed an executive director to assist and coordinate volunteers. For over 25 now, RAAC has carried out its mandate exclusively as an all-volunteer organization with an active Board of Directors and an energetic core of volunteers. RAAC is viewed as a model nonprofit community arts organization by the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
RAAC now offers a wide variety of programs and events which include the 1st Friday Movies, 2nd Friday Talks, Community Theatre performances, Soup & Soul events, the annual Fall Art Tour, Film & Talkback Series, workshops, concerts, school programs and other gatherings. RAAC, through its Claudia Mitchell Arts Fund, also offers financial grants to individuals and organizations to support the arts.
For more information about RAAC and its programs, please visit www.raac.org.