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About PAAL

In 1932 Miss Anna Mercer Dunlop considered the Dean of Petersburg Artists founded the Petersburg Area Art League, creating a legacy of art in Old Towne Petersburg.  In 1959 PAAL began the Poplar Lawn Arts Festival, an annual tradition drawing people from around the region until the late 1990s.   In 1971 PAAL moved into current day location of 7 E. Old Street. 


Over a decade later the building would be donated to the League by a lifetime resident of Petersburg, Nan Seward Jones. Nan Seward Jones lifelong interest in the field of art started at an early age when she studied under the tutelage of  Anna Dunlop. She was accomplished in all mediums ranging from oil to pen and ink.  Mrs. Jones alongside Ms. Dunlop was instrumental in the establishment of the Petersburg Area Art League.


In 1993 Old Towne Petersburg was hit by a huge tornado causing severe damage to the PAAL building;  ripping off the entire roof, destroying the gallery space and completely destroying the adjacent building.  For five years the League operated from a temporary location until its return to the front of 7 East Old Street, although the Gallery had not yet been restored.  It would be another 10 years before any other major work would take pace at PAAL.



From 2008 - 2010 PAAL would undergo major renovations and changes.  The Cameron Foundation awarded PAAL a $1.5m challenge grant, of which $750,000 was directly awarded and $750,000 is set as a challenge for Virginia State University to raise matching funds.   Funds were used toward renovation of the gallery and creation of an Education Center, with VSU able to use a portion of the renovated space for a VSU Museum.


PAAL launches a one-week Summer Art Camp program for elementary school children. · Groundbreaking on renovations and Education Center. The City of Petersburg agrees to donate lot adjacent to PAAL for use as an Art Park.


PAAL hosts first annual spring fashion show.'

· PAAL celebrates completion of Phase I gallery renovations and Grand Opening of Education Center. · PAAL expands Summer Art Camp to two weeks, and includes sessions for elementary as well as middle school aged children.

· City of Petersburg transfers lot designated for use as an Art Park to PAAL

. · PAAL hosts first fall crafts show.


. PAAL hosts first annual gala event.

· PAAL breaks ground on open-air community Art Park. · PAAL expands two-week Summer Art Camp to full-day programming, and doubles the number of participating youth it can accommodate.

· PAAL launches first phase of after-school arts education program in partnership with the Petersburg YMCA.


PAAL has continued to grow its programming. PAAL is also increasing the number and diversity of classes for adults and youth alike, while continuing to provide monthly exhibits that offer the community high-caliber visual art as well as periodic special events designed to celebrate the visual arts.

In an effort to financially support the growth of PAAL and continue to empower the community through visual arts,  PAAL has partnered with Event Decor Galore, a Petersburg based multi-facet event company to make PAAL and the Art Park available to the general public for event rental.

The owner of Event Decor Galore is Senithia H. Martin a citizen of Petersburg.  Senithia has acquired all the necessary skills to successfully manage an event venue having spent 15 years in the Property Management industry.  She has an eye for detail, superb customer service and project management skills, paired with her love of unique color combinations and of course weddings!  Allowing clients the privilege of an unforgettable, stress free venue experience.


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