Arts in Transition outlines changes in arts community


WILLIAMSBURG, VA - Exciting changes in the local arts community are in the works.

The changes were announced at the June 7th meeting of the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission (WAAC) and the York County Arts Commission (YCAC) at the Stryker Building in downtown Williamsburg.

This year's topic was "Arts in Transition." The event brought together arts commissioners from Williamsburg, James City County, and York County, as well as Williamsburg area officials and local political leaders.

Speakers for the session were Aaron De Groft, Director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art, and Colonial Williamsburg President Mitchell Reiss. De Groft and Reiss outlined how their museums will accommodate more and more interactive experiences for visitors.

De Groft displayed plans that will add gallery space, teaching areas, and a library to a new visual arts center, which will be named after benefactor Martha Wren Briggs. The center will be the new home of the Muscarelle Museum. The visual arts center will be designed by internationally renowned architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli.

In recent years, the Muscarelle has featured the works of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Andy Warhol, and Caravaggio. William & Mary was the first university in the nation to collect art and the first to include the arts as part of its curriculum.

Reiss described plans to revitalize America's largest outdoor museum, Colonial Williamsburg. "We're making history exciting and relevant to our visitors again," he said. Reiss mentioned a new ax-throwing attraction, as well as a musket range, onsite child care, and a summer camp.

Reiss also mentioned that Colonial Williamsburg has revamped its advertising and marketing efforts. Perhaps the most locally visible change is the bus wraps on CW buses. He said other advertising and marketing plans are in the works.

Attendees included State Senator Monty Mason, Virginia Arts Commission Chair Shelley Weisberg, Acting City Manager Andrew Trivett, Economic Development Director Michele DeWitt, and Williamsburg City Council members Barbara Ramsey and Benming Zheng.

The Williamsburg Area Arts Commission and the York County Arts Commission, both 501(c)3 grant-making entities, meet annually to share insights and ways to help local arts organizations, as well as how to solve challenges that many arts groups share.

Arts commission members are appointees of the City of Williamsburg, James City County, and York County. The annual joint meeting has been ongoing since the early 1990s, when both groups were formed.

For more information about how to apply for a 501(c)3 arts grant from the City of Williamsburg and James City County, visit -> Government -> About Williamsburg -> Boards and Commissions (

For information about applying for York County arts grants, visit


For more information, contact Susan Branch Smith, 2018-2019 Williamsburg Area Arts Commission chair, at or 410.404.5559.

Suggested caption for photo alone: The Williamsburg Area Arts Commission hosted an event to update area commissioners, officials, and political leaders about changes coming to Colonial Williamsburg and the Muscarelle Museum. Photo Copyright © Basecamp Productions.

[Photographs are labeled with names. Any photos used should contain photo credit: Photo Copyright © Basecamp Productions.]

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