Annual Virginia Beach mural festival helps bring income to local businesses, artists

Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 21, 2020

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The ViBe Creative District’s annual Mural Festival is back this summer, and with the great art also comes an economic boost for both businesses and artists.

One of those businesses is Best Value Hardware, which has a mural of painted dogs on the side of the store.

“Even before you guys arrived today, there were folks taking selfies in front of this mural,” Cecil Groves, the store’s owner, said.

The mural was painted last year and is one stop for this year's mural festival. So far, the mural has helped Groves get new business.

“They come out and take a look at the murals,” Groves explained, “and then they just come into the store, kind of just seeing what we’re all about."

He said there is a blank wall on the back side of his story that an artist will soon paint a new mural on. Meanwhile, it’s the same story at Bad Ass Coffee just around the corner.

“It just brings a sense of community, and I think that’s what the ViBe has always sought to do," Mimi Elliott, the coffee shop’s co-owner, said. "I feel like after 15 years we are really a part of it now."

The benefits are also being felt by the artists painting those same murals, such as Caesar McGann, who came from Richmond.

“I think in order to be successful in this business you have to look outside of your immediate area,” McGann said. “You have to be willing to travel and go seek out cool things and cool areas."

He is a repeat festival artist and is set to paint three outside walls of Bad Ass Coffee.

For other artists like Ruby Starcher from Chesapeake, this is her first year. Starcher, a high school senior, said she painted murals for her school district, but that this is the first time she's painted for a professional cause.

“I am super young, so it’s hard for me to get a couple of jobs,” Starcher explained. “I’m still seen as a teenager and not like an adult professional painter."

They are two of 10 artists this year, painting 10 new murals to make up the over 70 on display.

Each of them will see a share of $31,000, with the more-experienced artists getting a higher stipend.

“It makes me feel so good, gave me the best confidence boost," Starcher said. "For my art, it’s a really good opportunity."

The mural festival goes until August 30. More information on the festival, such as the location of the murals, can be found on the festival’s website.