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July 8, 2008

Continued growth in visitation, endowment and donor support highlighted in Colonial Williamsburg's Annual Report

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation recorded its third consecutive year of increased ticket sales and higher fund-raising results, extending its reach and impact to larger audiences as detailed in the just-released 2007 annual report, published as a special insert in Colonial Williamsburg, the journal of the Foundation.

The report notes several highlights of a banner year, including the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown, encompassing Anniversary Weekend, Queen Elizabeth’s visit, and the World Forum on the Future of Democracy; the dedication of the new Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum; hosting the Dialogues in Democracy project in cooperation with McNeil-Lehrer Productions on PBS; the completed restoration of the Williamsburg Lodge; and the opening of The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg.

"It was another year of rising attendance, of expanding distance education, of lively new programming in the Historic Area and of strengthened presence through the World Wide Web,” said Colin G. Campbell, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “These advances demonstrate the foundation’s reach and impact, which were deepened in multiple ways during the year. Colonial Williamsburg is helping to shape the ideas and attitudes of this generation of Americans and the next.”

Education for Citizenship is the guiding theme for Colonial Williamsburg’s educational programming and comprises a set of initiatives designed to inspire individual participation in self-government. From Revolutionary City’s® live street theater presentation in the Historic Area which presents Williamsburg’s role in one of America’s defining historical periods to conferences, distance learning, teacher institutes, broadcasts and the Internet, the Foundation engaged millions in important conversations about citizenship rights and responsibilities. Colonial Williamsburg is connecting the 18th and 21st centuries, focusing on the democratic principles that prevailed in the nation’s formative years and that are fundamental to sustaining our democracy.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area served as a location for filming of the HBO miniseries “John Adams,” based on the Pulitzer-prize winning biography by David McCullough and produced by Tom Hanks and Playtone Productions. Foundation experts helped the filmmakers capture historical details of the period from speech and manners to the physical realities of war and disease. The series premiered in March with widespread critical acclaim. Colonial Williamsburg’s role is impressively presented in a special documentary feature on the DVD released this June.

For 2007, total revenues, including budgeted endowment support, increased by $33 million to $225 million, and expenses increased by $24 million to $262 million. The operating loss was $37 million, an improvement of $9 million over 2006. The Foundation’s net assets increased by $99 million to $1.05 billion, setting a new record. Additional information on the Foundation’s financial results is available in the 2007 annual report which is available online.

The market value of the Foundation’s endowment increased to $820 million reflecting a net return of $132 million, or 17.7 percent, which was well in excess of the 5.5 percent return of the Standard & Poor’s 500, a commonly used measure of the performance of the U.S. stock market. For the year, the Foundation’s investment performance ranked first in the country among libraries and museums.

Individual contributors to the Foundation surpassed the 100,000 mark for the sixth consecutive year, setting a new record of more than 119,000 donors from all 50 states. Gifts received, excluding pledges, totaled $41 million, which included $15 million of unrestricted annual support. The annual Colonial Williamsburg Fund provides ongoing support to priorities across the Foundation including educational outreach; the preservation of historic buildings, gardens, museum collections and rare documents; teacher training; and discounted student visits.

“We take seriously our commitment to provide responsible stewardship of institutional assets and to maintain a strong balance sheet,” said Campbell. “In 2007 we developed a strategic plan which will serve as a blueprint for the Foundation’s future addressing program renewal, increased visitation, recruiting and workforce development, with attention to institutional and regional pressures. We continue to address as a central priority the challenge of aligning the Foundation’s revenues and expenses; progress was made in 2007 and more remains to be achieved.”

Ticket sales rose for the third consecutive year to 780,000, up 5 percent over the prior year. The Foundation had reported 745,000 paid admissions for 2006, which also represented 5 percent growth over the prior year. Sales of evening programs tickets and carriage rides totaled more than 310,000 tickets, an increase of more than 3 percent over 2006.

Actual visitation was larger based on more realistic methods of counting guests. Applying a “turnstile count” approach to valuing tickets, based on the length of stay associated with a particular ticket, total paid admission visits or “gate count” is estimated to be approximately 1.5 million. Ridership on Colonial Williamsburg’s natural gas powered buses totaled more than 2.2 million, plus nearly 175,000 passengers to the other Historic Triangle sites of Jamestown and Yorktown.

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum (AARFAM) was re-dedicated in February. Made possible by $7.5 million in gifts, the 10,400 square feet of exhibition space is alongside the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at the Public Hospital site. AARFAM serves as the nation’s leading center for the research, preservation and exhibition of folk art. Attendance at The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg totaled 238,000 in 2007, making it one of the 50 best attended museums nationally and one of the top two museums in Virginia.

Hospitality is central to the Colonial Williamsburg experience and was invaluable to the Foundation’s 2007 successes. Whether hosting royal visitors overnight in the Williamsburg Inn or 600 conferees for the World Forum on the Future of Democracy at the Williamsburg Lodge, the hospitality division is on the forefront of providing exceptional guest service. The completion of the Lodge and The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg concluded a more than eight-year, $150 million hospitality investment program. Income from resort operations provides critical support to the foundation’s education and preservation programs.

New members of the Board of Trustees included Thomas F. Farrell II of Richmond, Va., chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Dominion Resources and former rector of the board of visitors of the University of Virginia; Judith A. McHale of Bethesda, Md., former president and chief executive officer of Discovery Communications and current president of Brimark Ventures group; Barbara B. Oberg of Princeton, N.J., history professor and lecturer at Princeton University, where she is general editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson; Henry C. Wolf of Norfolk, Va., retired vice chairman and chief financial officer of Norfolk Southern Corp. and vice rector and board of visitors member at the College of William and Mary; and Virginia state Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., a partner in the law firm of Kaufman & Canoles, co-chairman of the board of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and chairman of the Jamestown 2007 management committee. Trustee Joshua Darden completed his board service in 2007 after 11 years of service to the foundation.

The board also implemented a long-planned return to a traditional not-for-profit governance model which relies on a non-executive chair. Richard G. Tilghman, a trustee since 1994 and vice chairman since 2000, was elected chairman. Colin Campbell continues to serve as president and chief executive officer.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 2007 Annual Report is available online at: and at

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Tom Shrout
(757) 220-7265