Dogtown Dance Theatre
109 West 15th Street
Richmond VA 23224-4622
Mission Statement
Dogtown Dance Theatre provides a home for independent artists to create and present their work in movement, visual and music arts. We seek to enliven our local community by fostering expansive creative expression and education across diverse populations.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Jess Burgess
Board Chair Dr. Robert E. Petres
Board Chair Company Affiliation Dogtown Dance Theatre, building owner
Contact Information
Address 109 West 15th Street
Richmond, VA 232244622
Telephone 804 230-8780
Fax 804
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2010
Former Names
Dogtown Arts Foundation2013
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $162,012.00
Projected Expenses $161,055.00
Dogtown Dance Theatre provides a home for independent artists to create and present their work in movement, visual and music arts. We seek to enliven our local community by fostering expansive creative expression and education across diverse populations.
  • Richmond Dance Festival is heading into its 5th anniversary. Last season, artists came to Dogtown from across the globe and the country, including dance artists from the Congo, Chicago, and San Francisco. RDF strives to connect talented dance artists with local audiences by unifying their efforts to strengthen the art form through 3 weeks of performances, film screenings, and free master classes. 
  • Dogtown established the Dogtown Presenter’s Series in 2016 to support the local artists that call Dogtown “home.” The Presenter’s Series is an exemplary achievement in supporting this mission by providing Dogtown artists the opportunity to create work while avoiding the financial obstacles of performance and production.
  • Dogtown expanded its rental program to become more service-oriented to artists using Dogtown as their creative home. Dogtown created a comprehensive marketing program to help promote artists which helped build a significant increase awareness of the classes offered. Dogtown also assisted artists with curriculum vitae development, grant writing resources, full technical support for events, along with funding.
  • Dogtown established and fostered the National Dance Day event hosted each July that features free classes spanning multiple dance genres taught by local professionals to over 300 students. 
  • Dogtown hosted the 6th annual Mardi Gras RVA event featuring a diverse arrangement of live music and performances, Cajun food, and a community parade in wich everyone can participate in, and tons of activities throughout the day. 
  • Dogtown is currently working with a consultant to help the organization achieve high-level goals. Using feedback from the VCA, Dogtown is in the process of recruiting for new board members that will help the organization grow and continue to make a lasting impact.

1. General Operating Support to help continue to expand the organization’s outreach and mission. With additional funding for general operating support, Dogtown would have the opportunity to invest more into its seasonal programming, strengthening its mission. Dogtown operates with a small staff, so each employee is well experienced in adapting to fit the needs of the structure of the organization and fulfilling many duties beyond just their job’s descriptions. With additional funding for staffing, the organization could increase hours for the staff to allow more workable time to complete assignments and projects for the organization. - $35,000

2. Theatre technical enhancements – Dogtown will need a new dimmer pack for our stage lighting in the near future. The equipment we are currently using gets older each year, and more unreliable. To continue to support artists in Richmond and beyond with affordable yet professional performance opportunities, Dogtown needs to upgrade its dimmer pack to meet minimum industry standards. - $15,000

3. Continued funding for Dogtown’s largest programs that support independent dance artists: Dogtown Presenter’s Series, Mardi Gras RVA, and Richmond Dance Festival. - $30,000

4. Funding to maintain permanent positions of Development Director, Administrative Director and funds to hire the permanent positions of Technical Director and Marketing Specialists - $160,000

5. The dance floors in Dogtown’s studios and main theatre have seen pretty significant wear and tear over the last seven years in operation. Dogtown will need funding to professionally re-surface the dance floors for optimum use. - $50,000


Located in the historic Manchester district of Richmond, VA, former Artistic Director of Dogtown Arts Foundation, Rob Petres, saw the potential in utilizing the newly renovated Bainbridge Jr. High School for his modern dance company, Ground Zero Dance; that was 2005. After opening its doors to the public in 2010, Dogtown became the nonprofit organization Dogtown Dance Theatre. Over the last seven years, the theatre has become a home for a variety of dance art, visual art, and diverse choreography rich in foreign culture. It provides artists with affordable rehearsal rates, classes, and performance spaces, which encourages education, entertainment, and facilitates inspiration. In 2015, Dogtown Dance Theatre underwent a change in leadership when Jess Burgess took over as Artistic & Executive Director. Jess has worked tirelessly to build what is now the Dogtown programming season, dedicated to ensuring the longevity of the dance art form for the Richmond community. Dogtown Dance Theatre currently provides artistic resources for over fifty choreographers in more than twenty styles of dance annually for the Richmond community in the form of year-round, professional workshops and performances. Each year, an average of 10,000 dance art patrons come to the theatre’s classes and workshops in several dance genres, including tap, ballet, modern dance, hip-hop, salsa, Flamenco, circus arts, Indian, and African-Caribbean, when they enter the front doors.

Dogtown’sprogramming season consists of National Dance Day in July, the Dogtown Presenter’s Series in the fall, Mardi Gras RVA in February, and the Richmond Dance Festival from April to May. National Dance Day is a widely-recognized dance holiday held on the last Saturday in July; the theatre celebrates by offering free classes to the public in all offered dance genres from open until close. The newest addition to Dogtown’s programming, the Dogtown Presenter’s Series, exposes Richmond to a multi-week professional production choreographed by an artist that currently rehearses and teaches at Dogtown; its inaugural presentation took place in October 2016. The Series’ success has made it a permanent event in the Dogtown schedule because it exceeded financial and patronage expectations, and served Dogtown’s mission to completely support local and independent artists. Mardi Gras RVA is the theatre’s first major production of every calendar year, featuring a street parade, choreography from Dogtown artists, live music, and Cajun food. Dogtown’s event is the largest family-friendly community Mardi Gras event offered in the city. To close out its annual performance season, the theatre hosts the Richmond Dance Festival from mid-April to early-May. For three consecutive weekends, Dogtown presents dance, dance art, and dance film from all across the United States to Richmond audiences. The Festival is currently Dogtown’s largest program of its season.

CEO Statement

Dogtown Dance Theatre offers beautiful, highly versatile performance spaces available at extremely low cost for artists, in comparison to other venues in the city. Alongside the beautiful space for dance artists, Dogtown is working to become a comprehensive arts service organization. Dance artists face obstacles unlike many others, needing many resources to create their art. Funding for space, technical needs, costuming and scenery, alongside professional services including grant writing, curriculum vitae, and portfolio building. Our goals include supporting the independent dance artists in Richmond and beyond, and to continue to provide Richmond arts patrons with exceptional alternative dance.

Dogtown continues to support a diverse population of artists and dancers. Our resident choreographers include artists expertly trained in modern dance, African-Caribbean dance, salsa, Flamenco, hip hop, belly dance, yoga, flow arts, and circus arts. These artists create a culturally rich fabric of collaboration and community right in the heart of the revitalization happening in the Manchester district of Richmond.

Dogtown Dance Theatre continually works towards its vision to provide a home in Richmond for all independent artists with programming that supports these artists at very affordable costs, and some programming that offers services at no cost to the artist. With continued funding support from donors, foundations, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Dogtown can expand these programs over time and support the artistic needs of a larger population. As the organization grows in popularity and demand, additional funding to build our staff and maintain our technical needs is a priority.

Finally, Dogtown is working to create a place where dance artists want to be. With two nationally acclaimed university dance programs in the city of Richmond, many dance artists do not view Richmond as final stop in their journey. Dogtown wants to create a community of artists and a technically superior space so Richmond becomes a final destination for dance artists beyond graduation. Exceptional dance doesn’t have to limited to the major cities in the United States: D.C., New York, Philadelphia, etc. Dogtown has the unique opportunity to create a lasting community for dance artists that want to live and create work in this artistically and culturally vibrant city.

Areas of Service
Areas Served
Metro Richmond
Tri-cities Region
Richmond, City
Chesterfield County
Henrico County











































































These zip codes cover most of the area Dogtown plans to impact.
Board Chair
Board Chair Dr. Robert E. Petres
Company Affiliation Dogtown Dance Theatre, building owner
Term Jan 2018 to Jan 2021
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Dr. William G. Fitzhugh
Company Affiliation Doctor OB/GYN Private Practice, Sunny Days Winery
Term Jan 2018 to Jan 2021
Board of Directors
Board Members
Mr. Al Austin Vice President of AETNA, Retired
Ms. Melissa Burgess Forrester, Senior Strategic Analyst
Dr. Renard A. Charity Doctor OB/GYN at HCA Physician Services
Mr. Dell Claiborne Richmond Real Estate Developer, Manchester District
Dr. William G. Fitzhugh Doctor OB/GYN Private Practice
Ms. Elaine Hinckle Development Director, Sacred Heart Center
Mr. Kevin LaMarr Jones Virginia Credit Union, CLAVES UNIDOS African Dance Company
Ms. Anna Koehle Executive Branch Director, Bethany Christian Services
Mr. Rob Petres Theatre Technical Liaison, Dogtown Dance Theatre Founder
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 5
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 7
Female 3
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 10
Board Meeting Attendance % 100
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 80
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Program / Program Planning
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.

Dogtown Dance Theatre is a growing nonprofit dance service organization located in historic Manchester district of Richmond. Since its inception, Dogtown has been committed to providing high quality and affordable artistic resources to the artists in Richmond and residents of the Manchester community.

Growing an artistic voice in Manchester is also of extreme importance. Manchester is developing rapidly, and with the expansion happening in the community, Dogtown is vital to connecting these new residents. Affordable and free class opportunities offered on a weekly basis gives the residents of Manchester a great way to learn a new skill or continue their dance education. Low-cost, sliding scale, and culturally diverse performances bring Manchester to life, providing residents with high quality arts events throughout the year. It also is a wonderful opportunity for Manchester businesses to get in front of Manchester residents through a nonprofit that is helping revitalize the area with culturally diverse artistic opportunities.

Dogtown is in an exciting position in the history of our organization, and a new Board of Directors are being voted in March 2018. Dogtown's new board members will contribute in a variety of ways. Board members will be active in helping the organization fundraise, either through personal or corporate donations, or connections to people in the community that can help Dogtown increase donor support. Board members can also contribute to the organization through working needs Dogtown has, including, but not limited to, arts advocacy, tax accounting, legal representation, financial services, and bookkeeping. 

Executive Director
Executive Director Ms. Jess Burgess
Jess Burgess is a performer, choreographer, educator and dance administrator living in Richmond, Va. She is the Artistic & Executive Director at Richmond’s home for independent dance artists — Dogtown Dance Theatre. She is responsible for conceiving, developing, and implementing the artistic vision and focus of the organization, and for major decisions about the ongoing development of the aesthetic values and activities, after extensive consultation with the Board of Directors. She is also the founder and director of RVA Dance Collective, Dogtown Dance Theatre's company in residence. The company was the 2010 recipient of the Theresa Pollak Award for Excellence in the Arts. Jess is a James Madison University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance & Choreography. While at JMU she trained extensively with acclaimed professionals in the dance community in the United States and abroad, including Sonia Rafferty, Donald Laney, Toneta Akers Toler, Isabel Gotzkowsky, Scott Smith (Siobhon Davies) and Keith Thompson. Jess is also a seasoned educator and currently runs the modern and contemporary program at The Dance Company, a local dance studio located in Mechanicsville, VA. Delicately balancing a keen eye for the creative and a strong sense of business development and management, Jess has flourished in Richmond as an arts administrator. Jess is currently on the Presenter’s Council for DanceUSA, a national dance organization, and has just recently joined the Council for Fine and Performing Arts for the Richmond Public School System. Jess is dedicated to ensuring the longevity of dance in Richmond and is grateful to call Dogtown home alongside so many other local talented dance artists.
Experience D
Former CEOs
Mr. Robert Petres May 2010 - May 2015
Full Time Staff 1
Part Time Staff 5
Volunteers 100
Contractors 5
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Date Strategic Plan Adopted June 2015
Management Succession Plan? Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
CultureWorks Richmond, Thomas Dale Specialty Center for the Performing Arts, Art Works Galleries and Studios, VCU Work Study, VCU and University of Richmond internship program, Sacred Heart Center, Richmond Virginia Academy for the Arts
HandsOn Greater Richmond2017
Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence2016
Best Booth AwardCultureWorks Xpo 20142014
Best in ShowCultureWorks XPO 20152015
General Operating SupportVirginia Comission for the Arts2017
Project Support - Richmond Dance FestivalE Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation2015
Project Support - Richmond Dance FestivalE. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation2016
Project Support - Richmond Dance FestivalE Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation2017
Building Capabilities SupportCultureWorks Richmond2017
Project Support - Dogtown Presenter's SeriesCultureWorks Richmond2016
Project Support - Richmond Dance FestivalE. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation2018
Project Support - Dogtown Presenter's SeriesWindsor Foundation Trust2018
Dogtown Dance Theatre promotes public interest in dance through the annual Richmond Dance Festival. The Richmond Dance Festival presents three weekends of concerts, workshops, and community events. Numerous dance companies and artists participate, collectively building the idea of
 community and sharing an audience with one purpose: to further diversify
and solidify dance in Richmond.
Population Served Adults
Budget $13,000.00
Short Term Success Short-term successes of the Richmond Dance Festival include increased attendance to the performances as well as classes and workshops offered at Dogtown Dance Theatre. 
Long Term Success Long-term success of the Richmond Dance Festival would include securing additional private funding to expand the number of artists involved and number of program performances. A sponsor for the festival would accomplish this goal.
Dogtown Dance Theatre promotes public interest in dance through the Mardi Gras Dance Festival. It is a yearly hosted event where the community is invited to dress up and take part in a parade as well as watch various performances from local artists held in the Dogtown Dance Theatre. It is a community driven event which encourages interactive creative self-expression through the Mardi Gras themed celebration of dance. The goal is to unite the diverse population of Richmond, Virginia by establishing a common ground through the arts.
Population Served Families
Budget $4,072.00
Short Term Success Entering into it's sicth year, the festival has proved to be successful at connecting community members directly to the artists that Dogtown Dance Theatre gives shelter. With careful review and analyzing the previous year's festivals, this year Dogtown Dance Theatre will consolidate the festival into a more clearly defined representation of the organization and mission. This will be accomplished by involving a larger variety of artists present as well as streamlining the festival into a one-day event. 
Long Term Success
The long-term success of the Mardi Gras RVA program will be continued investment of the artists that call Dogtown Dance Theatre home through this annual community festival that promotes and showcases their work. 
Dogtown Dance Theatre strives to make all of its in-house artists accessible to families and audiences of all genres, and the Mardi Gras RVA event is a prime opportunity to do that. 

The Dogtown Presenter’s Series is a 2-week fall celebration that will highlight the independent artists and organizations rehearsing and teaching at Dogtown Dance Theatre. Currently, Dogtown is home to 8 different dance and movement organizations. One arts organization will be invited by the Artistic Director to participate for a series of professionally produced performances and community workshops each fall in the Dogtown Presenter’s Series. The Series will increase awareness of the artists that make the theatre their home to the Richmond community. Dogtown manages the production costs of the concert by providing artists with rehearsal and performance space as well as marketing and technical needs. Artists invited to participate in the program will be awarded multiple full-length performances alongside master-level classes and workshops.  Dogtown grants a  stipend and a portion of the proceeds from the box office to the dance organization for the encouragement  of creating new art.

Population Served Adults
Budget $15,000.00
Short Term Success


The Dogtown Presenter’s Series is an innnovative way of producing dance artists in the Richmond community. It also engages Richmond arts audiences in a way never done before within the city limits. The Dogtown Presenter’s Series embodies Dogtown Dance Theatre’s mission by bringing professionally-produced dance concerts alongside specialized dance education that sculpts and pioneers Richmond’s expanding, diverse dance opportunities. All of Dogtown’s programmatic content is fostered, created, and presented by a choreographer who calls Dogtown “home.” The Dogtown Presenter’s Series own mission is to expose Richmond audiences to Dogtown choreographers who reflect the cultural diversity alive in dance today, to promote artists from a variety of dance styles and genres and support them in creating new works of expression. In doing so the Series will ultimately nurture long-term and multi-faceted partnerships between Dogtown Dance Theatre, its choreographers, their audiences, and the Richmond community.


Long Term Success

Goals and Objectives

The Dogtown Presenter’s Series overall goals and mission serve to support Dogtown Dance Theatre’s own mission to provide independent artists with a home to create and present their art.

The goals of the Dogtown Dance Presenter’s include:

· To push aesthetic boundaries and reflect the cultural and aesthetic diversity alive in dance today

· Nurture long-term and multi-faceted partnerships between choreographers that reside in house at Dogtown and their audiences

· Involve choreographers and dance artists from a range of dance styles and pedagogy

· Expose Richmond audiences to choreographers and movement artists that may not otherwise have the opportunity to show their work fully produced


National Dance Day will feature open-level classes instructed by all local Richmond dance artists, including Afro-Caribbean inspired Claves Unidos led by Kevin Lamarr Jones, modern/contemporary dance choreographed by RVA Dance Collective’s Jess Burgess, pole dancing with Pole Pressure, relaxing yoga with Yoga Source Richmond, hoop dance from Circular Expression, bellydancing with Twila and her Electric Nomad Dance Studio, hip hop dancing with Deandra Clark’s Studio 4 and salsa fundamentals with Latin Vintage Productions. The celebration of National Dance Day hosted by Dogtown represents the cultural diversity alive today in dance, and provides a way for students to experience them all in one day. Two of the dance companies, RVA Dance Collective and Claves Unidos, teach free classes at Dogtown year-round, as well, and all other classes are donation-based or extremely low-cost.

Dogtown Dance Theatre supports artists all artists who are established, or rising, and seeks to present new and exciting ways to the give back to the Richmond community, and National Dance Day is an exemplary achievement in avoiding the obstacles of performance and production, not to mention marketing costs; Dogtown believes that dance should not be a luxury, but a right.

Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Budget $1,500.00
Short Term Success

Short-term success for National Dance Day is seen in the increase in overall numbers in classes after the event. Patronage is supported through free events like National Dance Day as it helps expose Dogtown to the community and show our community the high quality instruction available here at very affordable costs.

Long Term Success

Dogtown has held two successful National Dance Day events since Jess Burgess assumed leadership at the organization. Each year the event grows and we are able to offer more classes to more students.

Description The Subsidized Artist Resource Program nurtures independent artists by using vital amenities to create a more vibrant community through perpetually growing southside Richmond’s cultural equity. Some of these amenities include: managing the financial risk for artists; providing well-documented grant writing; portfolio building for artists; and more.
Population Served Adults
Budget $90,000.00
Short Term Success Short-term Success: The Resource Program’s short-term goal seeks to provide every partnering artist with the resources necessary to create an equal opportunity for artistic success.
Long Term Success Long-term Success: The Resource Program’s long-term goal seeks to cultivate a more accessible artistic community within Manchester and a more vibrant community within Richmond
Description RVA Dance Collective is Dogtown’s modern dance company-in-residence, and they host free weekly classes on Sundays and year-round workshops, all low cost; creating accessible, professional art to audiences of all demographics. Their annual production of modern repertoire showcases original and commissioned work from one local and one national choreographer that spans three shows over one weekend.
Population Served Adults
Budget $8,000.00
Short Term Success Short-term Success: RVA Dance Collective’s short-term goal is to increase attendance to Dogtown’s annual workshops, classes, and performances, further increasing Dogtown’s awareness as Richmond’s home for independent artists.
Long Term Success Long-term Success: RVA Dance Collective’s long-term goal is to uplift Manchester’s cultural equity, enriching Richmond’s growing, vibrant community by consistently providing accessible arts and arts education for patrons of all income levels.
CEO/ED/Board Comments Dogtown Dance Theatre's programs continue to enhance the organization's mission to provide a home for all independent artists. We have gained significant momentum in the artistic community through the past several years as we've implemented Mardi Gras RVA and the Richmond Dance Festival. Now that the community support is in place and actively growing, Dogtown Dance Theatre needs to focus on securing investors and contributors to help sustain the longevity of these programs as well as the addition of new programs. 
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $162,012.00
Projected Expenses $161,055.00
Spending Policy N/A
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$85,861$85,861$25,545
Administration Expense$90,086$84,469$53,450
Fundraising Expense$957$6,574$933
Payments to Affiliates----$350
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.860.830.99
Program Expense/Total Expenses49%49%32%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue1%9%6%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$36,311$36,311$54,132
Current Assets$4,817$12,899$19,198
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$7,175$7,175$0
Total Net Assets$29,136$29,136$54,132
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities0.671.80--
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
2015 PermitView
2017 Solicitation PermitView
Organization Comments

Funding for personnel is an ongoing challenge, the current operating budget, without supplemental external funding, does not support the necessary staff. We have the opportunity to create jobs within the community, but currently do not have the means.

The organization has maximized use of internships and work study arrangements in partnership with VCU, to include temporary positions such as grant writers, technical staff, administrative staff, and marketing support. However, these positions are inherently limited in terms of time and depth of knowledge.

Fiscal year 2015-16 Year was difficult for Dogtown as we switched Artistic Directors, and put the current staff in place on payroll. As the needs of the organization were becoming realized and developed by the new AD, changes were made at the end of the fiscal year after looking at the deficit. We eliminated two positions that were currently not returning any investment into the organization and the AD took over their responsibilities. We have also been tirelessly working on grant applications, but in the 2015-16 season only saw one grant. We did receive large donations from the board and an individual donor that wants to see the continued success of the organization.

During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the organization regained financial stability after the elimination of the two full-time positions from the past fiscal year. As the organization continues to grow, we’ve also seen an increase in our rental programming, which is a large part of the organization’s income. We also have received an increase in grant support, so we are continuing to hone our grant writing process. Individual donations are continuing to come in from our major supporters and the board has continued to give this fiscal year as well.

For the upcoming fiscal year, we are hoping, with more grant support, that we can hire a full time technical director and alleviate some of the responsibilities currently being completely by the A&ED. We will continue to solicit to our individual donors and hope that the continued success of the theatre increases rental programming as well.

Foundation Comments
  • Financial information provided by financial statements prepared internally be the organization.