CW staff layoffs was shocking news

Having learned recently the shocking news that some seventy members from Colonial Williamsburg's staff have been summarily discharged, it begs a clear explanation on how one digests this sad turn of events.

As youthful pre-teenagers, my Dad first brought my sister and me to Williamsburg by train from Norfolk in late 1930s to visit the town Mr. Rockefeller was in the process of restoring. My father was a journalist with the Virginian-Pilot and he also wanted us to see where he had attended college in the 1920s. The Capitol and the Governor's Palace had been reconstructed; the Wren Building had undergone restoration. Our wandering about the old Virginia Capitol, looking into the gardens and seeing the costumed interpreters, made a lasting impression on me.

Little did I know I would spend two years as a staff photographer for Colonial Williamsburg in the mid-1950s, before returning to William and Mary for my degree. A final involvement with the foundation was serving as a volunteer in the Photographic Services office for over a decade. The lasting memories of working with so many dedicated and committed individuals in helping to shape CW's mission has been a memorable experience.

Not being privileged to the foundation's financial condition, which has reported losses in visitation in recent years, it is difficult to understand how cutting off the income of so many non-administrative employees is the fair way or the only way to balance the books. Many major enterprises, in finding themselves in similar straits, might cut salaries "across the board." This accomplishes several things, including keeping much of the staff employed and intact, while maintaining good public relations with a public that supports Colonial Williamsburg's mission: "To feed the human spirit by sharing America's enduring story, that the future learns from the past."

Chiles T.A. Larson


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