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September 5, 2003

Colonial Williamsburg Announces Adjustments in Historic Area Programs and Staffing

Colonial Williamsburg has announced upcoming changes in the Historic Area as part of a foundation-wide effort to enhance the guest experience and improve the operating budget. A recent comprehensive review of all Historic Area operations inspired a broad range of program and staffing adjustments, and resulted in the identification of core programs and core sites, as part of a new operating model.

“Our primary goal is to provide our guests with a unique view of the American experiment in self-government as well as the social fabric that surrounded it,” said Rex Ellis, vice president of the Historic Area. “Programming is the life blood of the Historic Area, and with the incredible buildings, collections and landscape we have, living history must be a central component of how we tell those stories. Interpretive training will continue to be important as we transition our programming to an even more dynamic, qualitative and engaging level.”

The review of Historic Area operations resulted in the identification of nine different “seasons” based on Colonial Williamsburg’s calendar of events, visitation and door counts. In 2004, the year 1774 will remain the focus of Historic Area programming with highlighted events from surrounding years. In 2005 each quarter will emphasize a different year from 1773 to 1776. “Our vision is to take each guest on a journey through time, orienting them in a variety of ways and at a pace appropriate to their needs and interests,” said Ellis.

It is anticipated that Historic Area programs will be reduced by approximately 20 percent allowing the Historic Area personnel to give full attention to those offerings with the potential to be of the highest quality. In addition, staffing for 2004 will be reduced by approximately 95 managers, administrative staff and interpreters. This will return staffing to mid-1990s levels when paid attendance in the Historic Area was higher by approximately 150,000 visitors than it was last year.

“A realistic assessment of our business and competitive situation has led to the conclusion that these steps, while difficult, are essential.” said Colin G. Campbell, president and chairman of Colonial Williamsburg. “We are committed to doing everything possible to minimize the impact on our employees as we move to make our educational programming more focused, to make Historic Area operations more nimble and to eliminate the foundation’s operating deficit.”

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. Known worldwide as the nation’s largest living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information, call toll-free (800) HISTORY or visit online at

Media Contact:
Tim Andrews
(757) 220-7265