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June 24, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg Reports Progress During Challenging Environment

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation reported gains in important revenue sources and increased endowment value in 2010, together with the introduction of new program initiatives and expansion of partnerships locally, regionally and nationally.

The year’s achievements are highlighted in the president’s report “Stewards of the Future” published in the current issue of the Foundation’s magazine, the Colonial Williamsburg Journal.

“To be good stewards of the future, we must be careful stewards of the present,” said Colin Campbell, president of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “As a result of energetic and creative efforts, we saw admission, hospitality and Colonial Williamsburg Fund revenue all improve in 2010. We also carefully controlled expenses. The result was good news in a difficult time.”

Admission revenues rose as a result of higher visitation, hospitality revenues climbed because of higher occupancy, and Colonial Williamsburg Fund gifts grew reflecting strong donor support. Operating revenues, exclusive of catalog income and endowment support, increased. The Foundation discontinued catalog operations in April 2010 and replaced the paper catalog with an online store, which improved overall financial results but reduced revenues.

The Foundation’s key operating and investment results for 2010 include:

  • Paid attendance increased nearly 4 percent to 686,000 and the “visitor gate count,” a measure of the actual number of visitors during the year based on type and duration of ticket purchased, was 1.7 million or about the same as 2009.
  • Total revenues, including budgeted endowment support, were $185 million in 2010, a decrease of $7 million, including a decline of $8 million in catalog revenues and lower endowment support per Board of Trustees-approved spending guidelines reflecting the decline in the average endowment market value during the 2007 and 2008 period.
  • Expenses were $212 million, a decrease of $4 million compared with 2009. Excluding catalog savings, expenses increased by $6 million mainly due to higher interest expense from a taxable debt refinancing completed in November 2009. The operating deficit for 2010 was $27 million, which was $3 million more than 2009, mainly as a result of higher interest expense and lower endowment support.
  • The endowment increased in value by $52 million to $754 million and produced a total return of 16 percent, continuing the Foundation’s investment performance in the top ranks of endowments nationally.
  • Gifts to the Colonial Williamsburg Fund, which supports the operating budget, totaled $14.3 million, up 2 percent. In terms of total giving, more than 108,000 households gave and pledged more than $31.6 million.
  • The Foundation’s net assets totaled $908 million, an increase of $59 million in 2010. Assets increased by about $54 million, and liabilities declined by $5 million. The most significant reason for the increase in assets was the investment performance of the endowment.

    “I am especially pleased that the net assets of the Foundation have increased significantly during the past two years after experiencing a downturn with the rest of the economy in 2008,” said Campbell. “Because we continue operating with a substantially smaller staff and are keeping expenses down—and we intend to maintain that discipline—we will be in a favorable leveraged position as the tourism economy improves. This is critical to achieving true financial equilibrium—a central responsibility of stewards of the future.”

    The report also highlights the quality and creativity of the Historic Area, museums and educational outreach programs which connected with audiences on-site and off.

    “Teaching an appreciation of the history that happened here, passing to new generations the knowledge of our struggles to be free and equal, preserving for tomorrow the lessons of yesterday, is what Colonial Williamsburg is all about,” Campbell said.

    New Program Initiatives

    Charlton’s Coffeehouse, which opened in November 2009, welcomed more than 100,000 guests in 2010. The generosity of Forrest Mars Jr. and Deborah Mars made possible this newest exhibition site in the Historic Area. In 2010, Mr. Mars committed the funding for reconstruction of the Public Armoury at the James Anderson Blacksmith Shop. When completed in 2012, this large complex will introduce guests to the industrial life of Williamsburg during the Revolutionary War.

    New programs placed Capitol and Palace guests in “moments in history” re-creating lively activity at those sites in the 18th century in an engaging, family-friendly experience.

    The new Guest Artists program brought to the Historic Area actors Mamie Gummer who appeared in the HBO miniseries “John Adams,” and Jesse Williams of TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” to join the Foundation’s actor/interpreters performing roles of historical Williamsburg figures before live outdoor audiences.

    The Collections, Conservation, and Museums Division showcased in 2010 the conservator function, an activity at which Colonial Williamsburg excels and which is vital to preserving the Foundation’s collections and to preparing them for exhibits. The conservation labs and the exhibition “Conservation: Where Art and Science Meet” are fascinating and important examples of the cutting-edge work of Colonial Williamsburg’s conservators. The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg continued to be among the most-visited in Virginia with attendance of 210,000 guests, an increase over the prior year.


    In 2010, the Foundation entered into partnerships with the Chautauqua Institution, the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture, and Preservation Virginia. Having participated in 2009 with the Chautauqua Institution in the program, “The History of Liberty,” which involved Colonial Williamsburg trustees and interpretive staff at the institute, planning began for a 2011 program on the causes of the Civil War. In late 2010, work began on a conference, “Storm on the Horizon: Slavery, Disunion, and the Roots of the Civil War.” Following a week-long series of talks and interpretive programs at Chautauqua, the Colonial Williamsburg portion of the program, a successful weekend conference in February 2011, affirmed the continuing relevancy of the Revolutionary period to subsequent and current events in American history.

    As a result of collaboration between Colonial Williamsburg and Preservation Virginia, the sweep of history from 1607 to 1781 is now told in two locations managed by Colonial Williamsburg, in the Historic Area and Preservation Virginia’s site at Historic Jamestowne. This donor-funded initiative offers the opportunity to add Jamestown programming, connect the two-site experience, link archaeological programs and other activities and work more closely with Preservation Virginia and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation to strengthen the Historic Triangle destination.

    Significant partnership with the Virginia Arts Festival continued to develop in 2010. The festival brings to the region a variety of Broadway-style, jazz and classical artists, dance troupes, theatrical companies and symphonic groups adding a lively, appealing cultural dimension to the destination that distinguishes Colonial Williamsburg from others. The annual Occasion for the Arts staged in Merchants Square became a two-day event, featuring Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades as a significant component and serving as another link with the community.

    Broad National Support

    In 2010, there were more than 800 gifts for specific projects. Among the most significant, in addition to trustee Forrest E. Mars Jr.’s gifts for the Public Armoury, trustee Henry C. Wolf and his wife, Dixie, increased their support by $1 million, creating two planned-preservation endowments. Margaret Nelson Fowler and Roy E. Hock committed $500,000 for Historic Jamestowne preservation and archaeology.

    The number of donors who included the Foundation in their estate plans rose to 1,750. Gifts from individuals accounted for 72 percent of total donor revenue, and other groups such as corporations, foundations and government grant-making agencies accounted for the remaining 28 percent. Membership in the Foundation’s special donor societies grew 5 percent.

    Forrest E. Mars Jr. and Mark J. Kington were elected Foundation trustees in 2010. Mars is chairman emeritus of Mars, Incorporated. Kington is managing director of X-10 Capital Management, LLC, an investment management firm, and was a founding member of Columbia Capital, LLC, a venture capital firm. Thomas F. Farrell II was elected vice chairman and chairman-elect of the Foundation’s board of trustees in November. He serves in that capacity for one year until chairman Richard G. Tilghman retires, at which time Farrell becomes chairman. Farrell is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Richmond-based Dominion Resources.

    Spreading the Word

    A new approach to marketing—an invitation to “Be Part of the Story”—was critical to advances in 2010 and the Foundation took advantage of the importance of social media through a growing presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. On the World Wide Web, Colonial Williamsburg’s virtual visits rose 5 percent to 26.5 million.

    Electronic field trips reached more than 2,000 registered schools and home-school families, for a total audience of six million. The Foundation completed the development of The Idea of America, a substantially donor-supported, digital, Web-based history and civics curriculum for high school students across the country.

    More than 1,600 teachers from 30 states and the District of Columbia participated in Colonial Williamsburg’s on-site and off-site institutes and workshops which continue to be a major contribution to the teaching of history in schools nationwide.

    “I am proud of all that Colonial Williamsburg achieved in 2010,” said Campbell. “Challenges remain, but the results show that the creative programming, special exhibits, attractive promotions and partnerships we pursued, the compelling experiences we provided, made a difference to our guests and supporters. Our success in engaging and attracting the public demonstrates the abiding interest and pride Americans have, when given the incentive and opportunity, in the story of our nation. It is a story a part of which we are privileged to tell, and to safeguard, as stewards of the future.”

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 2010 report is available online at:

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    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. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

    Media Contact:
    Tom Shrout
    (757) 220-7265

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