Annual Report 2005
Setting the Stage
Preparing the ground; laying the foundation; building the framework—all phrases that express the idea that investments made today make possible the opportunities we will offer the public tomorrow. Perhaps "setting the stage" is the most appropriate way of characterizing planning that occurs at a living history museum, where the past is preserved and interpreted. Setting the stage describes how my Colonial Williamsburg colleagues and I spent 2005. From Historic Area programming to educational outreach, from hospitality operations to museums and collections, from fundraising to financial management, Colonial Williamsburg moved toward the end of a time of transition, and began to lift the curtain on a period in which our plans will be realized, and, I believe, embraced.
The most visible example of that advance was the translation of Colonial Williamsburg's Education for Citizenship initiative into planning for a dramatic interpretive program we titled the Revolutionary City. The scenes—depicting life in Williamsburg from 1774, as the Revolution began, to 1781, when the nation secured independence—portray the importance of the individual's participation in republican government. Written to engage visitors of all ages and performed in an area protected from 21st-century distractions, the scenes inspire and entertain while they educate. They link to programming taking place throughout the restored town. While in the Revolutionary City actor-interpreters and participants at the Capitol are debating war, at the Governor's Palace Lord Dunmore is condemning "those Revolutionaries," and the next day George Washington is at his Wythe House headquarters planning to humble Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. Premiering in the spring of 2006, the Revolutionary City raises the curtain on a livelier Colonial Williamsburg not only for today but through the 2007 celebrations of the landing at Jamestown and America's 400th Anniversary, and beyond.
Foundation President Colin Campbell, who serves as Vice Chairman of the Jamestown 2007 steering committee; Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler, Executive Director, Jamestown 2007; and Virginia Governor-elect Tim Kaine participate in the planting of America's Anniversary Garden at Jamestown. Colonial Williamsburg is a Founding Colony Sponsor of the Jamestown 2007 Commemoration.
Building on the momentum of the year ahead is how Colonial Williamsburg will secure the audiences of its future, and showcase the importance of our educational outreach endeavors. Education is central to an institution that takes for its motto "That the future may learn from the past." For years, we have been engaged in conversations about Education for Citizenship and preparing the stage to realize the potential of that theme on-site and off. Initiatives include development of a citizenship-focused website, expansion of our work with schools—with a particular focus on secondary education—and introduction of revolutionary methods of teaching.
In 2005, we broadcast seven Electronic Field Trips to millions of students in the nation's classrooms, our Teacher Institute grew to 23 weeks of on-site instruction to more than 500 teachers, and the number of our off-site teacher workshops rose significantly as well.
Our Internet-based presentations, including websites and electronic field trips, attracted 11.5 million visits. About 90,000 people a month downloaded our audio files and podcasts—behind-the-scenes interviews inaugurated in 2005. Embracing the digital age further, we prepared three Historic Area audio tours—on colonial architecture, on the sounds of the Revolution, and orientation—to be enjoyed by guests beginning in 2006. More will be added—focusing on collections for example—setting the stage for guests to more easily explore individual interests.
California schools adopted our next-generation teaching materials for their history-social studies curriculum. We developed these materials in partnership with Pearson Scott Foresman, the nation's largest publisher of elementary school textbooks. Once completed, we recognized the possibilities of addressing secondary schools and are developing a digitally delivered history curriculum relevant to the citizenship experiences of these students, many of whom reach the "legal" age of citizenship toward the end of their high school experience.
On stage in Virginia, work on the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center, a fitness center, and spa—the final stages of a five-year, $220 million program of facilities improvements—advanced toward a late-2006 conclusion. We are eagerly anticipating the reopening of the Lodge, the economic engine of Colonial Williamsburg's hospitality business, to support that enterprise and provide economic benefit for the Foundation and the community at large.
Just across the Colonial Parkway, construction crews are working toward the opening of the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg at the Public Hospital site. In late 2006, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum will reopen their doors in a single and easily accessible location.
At year's end, the Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg had raised $471 million, and, as I write, the figure stands at more than $492 million. The stage is set for the campaign to reach its $500 million goal during 2006. The annual fund had another record year, reaching nearly $13.4 million, an increase of $1 million, or 7.6 percent, over 2004. There were a record number of donors, more than 109,000, a 6.3 percent increase. While we are working to see still greater improvement, we are pleased that ticket sales reached 710,450, up slightly from 707,000 in 2004. Total tickets including Good Neighbors and complimentary admission to museum professionals and others increased to 734,000 from 729,000. We are looking forward to welcoming more visitors, particularly as we approach the Jamestown 2007 commemoration.
Investment in programs and facilities meant taking calculated risks to ensure our future. Even still, we maintained a strong balance sheet, with the endowment valued at $712 million at year's end, an increase of $23 million since 2004. This was achieved in the face of operating deficits which resulted from this period of transition, and which are a paramount focus of management to reduce and eventually eliminate.
In December, it will be 80 years since John D. Rockefeller Jr. sent a telegram to the Reverend W. A. R. Goodwin authorizing the purchase of the Ludwell-Paradise House and setting the stage for Williamsburg's restoration. Their project has played through many acts, but the script Mr. Rockefeller created for it has not changed: "to restore Williamsburg, so far as it may be possible, to what it was in the old colonial days and to make it a great center for historical study and inspiration." Our aim is to see that the curtain on America's beginning is always raised for all to see and take to heart.
Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation