Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American
Civil War Commission
September 24, 2008
Workgroup 2 - Signature Events
Speaker Howell welcomed
workgroup members and those present at the meeting. He also introduced
Dr. Paul Levengood, who will succeed Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr., as President
and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Historical Society in November.
Carolyn Martin of
the University of Richmond offered an overview of the first annual Signature
Conference, which will be chaired by UR President, Dr. Edward L. Ayers,
and held on Wednesday, April 29, 2009, in the Robins Center. Geared specifically
for the general audience, the innovative conference format will find panelists
speaking from the perspective of someone living in 1859 - two years before
the first gunshots of the Civil War were fired. Four sessions will be
offered, each with at least four participants: "Taking Stock of the
Nation in 1859," "The Future of Virginia and the South,"
"Making Sense of John Brown's Raid," and "Predictions for
the Election of 1860." Dr. Ayers will moderate and participate in
each session, styling discussions on news shows such as "Meet the
Press" and "Face the Nation."
Cheryl Jackson demonstrated
online registration for the conference, which launched earlier in the
week. The conference is free to the public but seating is limited to 2,500,
so early registration is encouraged. Partner institutions throughout the
state, including museums, parks, and Civil War sites, will be asked to
join in publicizing the conference by linking to the website and distributing
printed materials. Speaker Howell stressed the importance of such cross-promotion,
and urged partner sites to do all they can to help get the word out. In
addition, staff was directed to issue an RFP for the conference book sale
vendor to Civil War museums in the Richmond area.
John Felton of Central
Virginia PBS discussed a proposal for filming and broadcasting the conference
that includes live broadcast via C-SPAN and webcasting, development of
four stand-alone programs on DVD, a one-hour highlight reel for prime-time
broadcast, and e-clips prepared for schools. Speaker Howell asked Mr.
Felton to work with PBS affiliates across the country to ensure widespread
distribution of the one-hour highlight program. The workgroup indicated
its consensus that Central Virginia PBS serve as the vendor for filming
and broadcasting the conference.
Dick Holway of UVA
Press presented a proposal for publishing the conference proceedings.
Since the conference format is unique, Dr. Ayers' recommendation is that
an edited transcript of the panel discussions be compiled by a graduate
student for publication. In response to questions, Mr. Holway indicated
that publication time may take up to one year, although this project could
be fast-tracked. The workgroup indicated its consensus that staff work
with UVA Press to develop a contract for publication of the proceedings
that both supports the conference format and falls in line with the overall
Kathy Panoff of
the Modlin Center for the Arts discussed a music theatre work that is
being commissioned specifically for the sesquicentennial by the University
of Richmond, the Virginia Arts Festival and the Virginia Opera. Set to
debut in April 2011 at the Virginia Arts Festival, the piece will travel
throughout Virginia and to other states during the commemoration. Award-winning
composer Ricky Ian Gordon is attached to the project, which has a budget
of $300,000 for which private sponsors will be sought. Ms. Panoff asked
the Commission to serve as a promotional partner, allowing localities
to use micro-grant funding towards the cost of bringing the piece to the
area. Speaker Howell invited Ms. Panoff to present her request to the
full Commission at its November meeting.
The Virginia Historical Society (VHS) continues to develop the museum
exhibition, “America’s Great Turning Point: The Civil War
in Virginia,” which will open in February 2011 and travel throughout
the state during the commemoration. Two venue changes have been made to
the proposed travel schedule, deleting Fredericksburg and adding Appomattox
provisionally. The Commission received a $40,000 planning grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities in support of the exhibition and
its derivative components, a traveling panel exhibition and a mobile museum.
The Commission has hired Out of Bounds, a mobile marketing company based
in Los Angeles, for consultant services in the development of the design
of the HistoryMobile as well as the identification of content from the
VHS exhibition that can be modified for the mobile museum. The Commission
has extended Out of Bounds' contract through January.
Production continues on the DVD being produced by Blue Ridge Public Television.
At the request of the Commission, Dr. Robertson provided an outline of
the eight 20-minute segments: Painful Road to War, First Manassas to Second
Manassas, Homefront, Common Soldiers, Antietam to Gettysburg, Personalities,
Slow Death of Lee's Army, Legacies of the War.
Plans continue to be developed in cooperation with the state of West Virginia
and Harper's Ferry National Historical Park for a media event on June
25, 2009, that will mark the 'national kickoff' of the sesquicentennial.
One of the strongest opportunities of the sesquicentennial is the chance
to reach beyond the Civil War buff to also engage the general audience,
helping them understand the relevance of events that occurred before,
during and after the Civil War. Staff has developed an ongoing series
of short essays, Sesquicentennial Moments, which will highlight what was
happening in the country 150 years ago. The first two have been written
and posted on the website: "Kansas - The Shooting Begins," and
"Lincoln-Douglas Debates." A rubric and schedule of suggested
topics have been developed; guest authors are welcome.
of the public can connect with experts online through the Commission's
website, ww.VirginiaCivilWar.org, submitting questions related to any
aspect of the war. Staff will submit the questions to the panel of experts,
publishing selected responses. Historians serving on, or closely associated
with, the Commission, Advisory Council or one of the workgroups are welcome
to serve on the expert panel.
Staff reviewed the proposed schedule of annual themes and conferences.
After some discussion, it was suggested that two of the conferences be
switched, to alternate a military focus and homefront focus in successive
October 15, 2008
Workgroup 1 - Coordination
Chairman Colgan welcomed
everyone in attendance including new members of the workgroup and said
he was honored to be Chair. He remarked that his district includes Manassas
where attention will turn in 2011 as the Civil War sesquicentennial begins
in earnest. He said it was the workgroup's job to highlight everything
Virginia has to offer as visitors travel during the commemoration. Senator
Howell was elected vice chair.
Ms. Jackson brought
Workgroup 1 up-to-date with plans for the inaugural Signature Conference
(April 29, 2009). She urged members of the workgroup to take the postcards
advertising the event and distribute them widely and stressed the website
where people can both register and find out more information about the
innovative panelists, including Dr. Ed Ayers who will be speaking of events
in 1859 from the historical perspective of someone who was living at that
time. The Conference can accommodate an attendance of 2,500.
PBS and CSPAN are
interested in broadcasting and there will also be a webcast. Ms. Jackson
stressed the need for emphasis on cross-promotion with universities, museums,
NPS sites, historical societies and local communities.
Ms. Jackson made
note of the traveling museum exhibition, which has been awarded a $40,000
NEH planning grant, and the HistoryMobile, an 18-wheeler $4 million enterprise,
which, if undertaken would be a public-private partnership. The educational
film is almost finished and will be ready for distribution in the summer.
The pilot project for Vodcast and Internet battlefield tours will debut
in the summer of 2009.
The national sesquicentennial
kick-off is at Harper's Ferry (June 25, 2009). Another planning meeting
was held in June. Ms. Jackson said the National Park Service was very
cooperative and welcoming and were glad for the Commission to visit. Plans
will continue to develop for this media event.
The American Association
of State and Local History is taking a coordinating role for states planning
for the 150th. So far there are approximately 15 states who join in quarterly
conference calls hosted by the Commission to share plans and stimulate
Staff have held
informational briefings with members of the Virginian Congressional delegation
including Representative Frank R. Wolf (10th District) who was very supportive
and interested in working with the Commission to hold an event in Manassas
in 2011. Representative Wolf published remarks commending the Commission
in the Congressional Record. Staff also met with Representatives Bobby
Scott (3rd District), Virgil Goode (5th District), Thelma Drake (2nd District)
and Senator Jim Webb. The members are pleased that Virginia is in the
lead among other states.
Ms. Jackson then
stressed the importance of statewide partnerships and conferences. The
Commission had a presence at the National Conference of State Legislatures
and the American Legislative Exchange Council as well as a Virginia One
conference for travel and tourism officials. The Commission has also had
a presence at the Virginia Association of Museums and Virginia Municipal
League annual conferences, as well as Civil War Trails regional meetings.
The Speaker has
written twice to counties and cities to urge them to establish local sesquicentennial
committees. The Commission needs a contact in each locality and the Commission
has authorized micro grants to assist their marketing efforts for the
Ms. Jackson demonstrated
the "Then/Now" interactive map on the Commission's website.
Local committees are refining and enhancing the data.
Civil War Trails
will be an overlay on the map, as well as museums and historical sites.
Local authorities can add to the site and flesh it out with stories and
and Joe Elton, Virginia State Parks
Joe Maroon, Director, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
said he was impressed by the plans and wants to work closely with the
Commission. The DCR has award-winning state parks and many of the parks
hold significant events. Mr. Maroon said Virginia was the first state
to do the information kiosks statewide.
Joe Elton, DCR State
Parks Director, then showed a video to demonstrate the kiosks that provide
both information and entertainment. This will be available on the Internet
soon and people can plan their trips accordingly. A calendar of events
on the websites and the kiosks is updated monthly. At each kiosk, visitors
can print maps and directions. The maps have convenient GPS waypoints.
There is the possibility
that the DCR can partner with the Commission to build on this concept
with perhaps terrain and other items included.
The DCR video demonstrated
their trail videos and noted that travelers were made aware of any barriers
on particular trails such as information on how 'rigorous' a particular
trail was along with other information on park activities.
Mr. Elton said the
technology is 'goof proof' and has been tested by the military in places
such as Iraq. He said the look of the kiosks is 'iconic' and people know
they can get information 24/7. The virtual tours are very helpful for
In response to questions,
Mr. Elton mentioned that, at present, there were 34 kiosks with more coming.
Some parks need more than one kiosk.
Mr. Elton said the
design is done by Imperial Multimedia Group who collaborate with people
from Disney and that the kiosks are all component based. They have replacement
parts and only a few instances of times when systems were down. The Imperial
Group makes the necessary corrections, updates the monthly calendar etc
and its staff is extensively trained with the equipment. Many problems
can be fixed over the phone. It was mentioned that it put up information
in the knowledge that all the information was imperfect in the hope the
public would help correct the information. Imperial is responsive and
ensures a fast turnaround.
Cost estimated at
$20,000 per unit, which is augmented by private funding. This is the first
time the DCR has had private advertising and the public has been extremely
Mr. Elton said that
it was possible to integrate the website into the kiosks.
In a response to
a question regarding whether or not there is an ongoing agreement for
the ongoing updates and maintenance of the system, Mr. Elton said that
the five--year contract with Dominion covers it and that there are no
extra fees. Mr. Elton also stated that the goal is to have as much information
in the kiosks as possible.
Paradis Stern, SVBF
Beth Stern discussed the work that the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields
National Historical District (SVBF) is undertaking and stressed it was
still a work in progress. It covers eight counties and is a National Heritage
Area and the first of its kind in Virginia. The idea is to help protect
the battlefields. There is a management plan in place with the aim of
obtaining federal funding for preservation work.
Ms. Stern outlined
the 'cluster concept' that the SVBF adopted to enhance movement of visitors
and location of facilities. Decisions are made by cluster partners. Ms.
Stern then demonstrated the orientation center.
Mr. Don Pierce,
Civil War Traveler, added that he had been to the Center in Winchester
and witnessed people watching the film shown. He said there was standing
room only and that the public response was extremely enthusiastic.
Ms. Stern commented
that $25,000 was allocated for the Winchester Center.
Mr. Elton then discussed the printing of maps and other material from
the kiosks and spoke of the use of thermal paper that lasts longer and
also stands up to rain, sun and other elements. There was some initial
concern about trash but the kiosks have a recycling initiative built in.
Ms. Jackson noted
that this workgroup is an advisory group and the Commission is looking
for recommendations on where to place the kiosks. A map of the 13 Welcome
Centers was shown. There was discussion about increasing this number but
it was mentioned that for some of the older and smaller tourism centers
that space may be a problem. There is also the issue of personnel checking
on the kiosks. At present, staff check kiosks first thing in the morning.
The workgroup looked at the possibility of posting a link on the Shenandoah
Valley Battlefields Foundation's site to avoid duplication with possible
private sector involvement.
Members of the workgroup
were tasked with further developing recommendations for placement of kiosks
at the Welcome Centers, National Park Service battlefields, State Civil
War battlefields and selected sites.
Ms. Donna Purcell,
Virginia Department of Transportation, discussed the issue of having graphics
depicting the Sesquicentennial on the cover of the state map. Ms. Purcell
mentioned feedback that showed that during the celebrations for the Jamestown
400th anniversary people tended to avoid the map that recognized the celebrations
as they thought it was a map solely for Jamestown and surrounding areas
rather than the whole of Virginia. It was discussed that perhaps a small
symbol of the Sesquicentennial be put on the maps to advertise events
with the web address.
Ms. Jackson went
through the proposed schedule and said the Commission will travel through
the Commonwealth for major events from Harpers Ferry through to Manassas.
Micro grants to
local committees were discussed that provide for funding of $2500 that
can be spent on marketing of events related to the Sesquicentennial. The
first grant application should happen in January 2009.
Mr. Scott Harris
discussed VAM's Time-Travelers program and the thematic focus on the Sesquicentennial.
Funding of $30,000 is proposed per year 2011 - 2015.
Margo Carlock, Virginia
Association of Museums, said the program will closely mirror cultural
history themes. They have submitted a proposal for a National Endowment
for the Humanities grant. Ms. Carlock said she hopes to expand the grant
and make it multistate, which in turn will draw more people to Virginia.
There are, however, problems with funding for 2009 as they presently have
$40,000 but need $70,000. Still waiting to hear about grants though they
have a 'Plan B' if the grant bid is not successful. If so, it may well
end up as an all website program.
The next meeting
date will be posted on the Commission’s website and the General
Assembly website as soon as information is available.
The Hon. William
Brenda Edwards, Danielle Watkins, DLS Staff
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2008
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