CW has seen better times, says Mitchell Reiss, CEO of Colonial Williamsburg. Income from ticket sales and other channels has been dropping off since the 1960's, and the endowment has been chipping in each year to keep the boat afloat. Around 2020, if the steady downward trend continues, the organization would be facing bankruptcy.
After a considerable study of the facts affecting CW, including the dwindling study of teaching in our schools, his new strategic outlook has been adopted, which will be incorporating many new changes that he feels will put the place back on a firm footing in a few years. The business interests which lost money each year are to be sold off or leased out, such as the Kimble Theater, recently transferred to WM ownership. There will be reductions in staff, occurring gradually over time. Many of our already good interpreters will be sent for further training, and will receive certifications, calculated to aid in attracting more students of history..
New efforts will be expended upon the physical plant here, including the painting of 20 buildings, which has already occurred. The Inn has been renovated and staffed, to popular acclaim. Plans are underfoot to introduce a colonial style fence to keep non-payers off of the historical area streets. Friends' tickets will be reduced in price from little to free for residents, however. New outreach to the military has been started, with free passes to servicemen who bring in guests with them, or half price if alone.
Data from last year indicates that ticket sales were up by 10 percent, and the bottom line is already showing improvement. A fresh change may be in the wind...
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