Cape Charles Wins Grant: Money Goes to Arts, Cultural Destination

September 5, 2012
Author: Gloria Bradley

CAPE CHARLES -- A project visualizing arts as an economic driver and center of community life and engaging the community to work together to make Cape Charles an arts and cultural destination has been recognized for its potential with a recent grant award by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Arts Enter Cape Charles is the recipient of a $50,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the Harbor for the Arts project.

"I give the merit and the credit to the fact of how much potential Cape Charles really has -- and they saw it," said Clelia Sheppard, executive director of Arts Enter, about Cape Charles being awarded one of the 80 national grants out of 317 applications nationwide. The awards were announced July 12, and Cape Charles and the city of Roanoke were the only two localities in Virginia to be awarded these grants.

"You see the potential, and I think that must have been where we were able to share that vision with the panelists," Sheppard said.

"It is a touristic gem," Sheppard said. "I don't think there are many towns in this country that can really match Cape Charles."

The project is a partnership of Arts Enter, the town of Cape Charles, the Cape Charles Business Association and Citizens for Central Park, and it "seeks to increase liveability and economic development by forging a new identity for the town of Cape Charles as a Harbor for the Arts."

"All toward a mutual effort," said Hank Mayer, member of the executive committee of the project, about bringing people together in the idea that is "the promotion of the town, the economic development of the town, the use of the arts throughout the town." "This is a way to gather all the forces and have a unified vision," said Mary Ann Roehm, co-director of Arts Enter about the project.

"Cape Charles is part of the county, and it is going to be only to the benefit of the county if Cape Charles does well," Sheppard said about the request in the July 20 letter from Arts Enter to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors to support the project with $12,500 for each of the two years of the grant period. "We are hoping we might get that -- this money we have isn't enough." The letter to the county said their original grant request of the NEA had been for $75,000 as part of a $175,000 project budget, and the town of Cape Charles has committed $25,000 cash and $25,000 in-kind.

Arts and cultural destination

The project narrative includes a schedule for the creation of the Arts Conceptual Master Plan, design competition, and Harbor for the Arts Festival, which includes art engagement workshops and events during the grant period of September 2012 to August 2014. It said the Arts Plan will complement the Cape Charles Comprehensive Plan, Community Trail Master Plan and Harbor Master Plan. Planning ideas include a Strawberry Street Plaza and an Art Walk for the town. The final Arts Plan will be presented to the Cape Charles Town Council for adoption.

Going forward

Organizers are currently working on a grant through the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Virginia Tourism Corp. to provide funding for the development of their website. "This design should be so brilliant that everybody can be part of it," Sheppard said about the website development.

"A central umbrella," Roehm said about the website. Mayer noted the marketing advantages of a website bringing people together around the same theme with links to each other.

"The unity makes the strength," Sheppard said of the project. "We want to generate that same kind of enthusiasm for Cape Charles on a more regular basis," said Roehm, referring to the recent Tall Ships festival in Cape Charles.

They said the project needs volunteers and other groups to become involved. "An historic play of the Eastern Shore," said Sheppard about the upcoming production of "Piece of Eden," an historic musical drama of the period of 1618-1776, which will take place at the Historic Palace Theatre from Nov. 15-20. Tickets and information available online, here.

She said they are hoping to have the town and businesses to join with festivities during the period of the play.

For information about the Harbor for the Arts project or how to become involved call Arts Enter at 757-331-2787, or visit

First Lady Maureen McDonnell Hosts First Ladies of Virginia Portrait Project Unveiling

September 5, 2012

- All ten portraits will be displayed in the mansion from Sept. 11 to Oct. 11; Public invited to schedule a tour or attend Sept. 18 open house –

RICHMOND - First Lady Maureen McDonnell hosted the First Ladies of Virginia Portrait Project Unveiling yesterday evening at Virginia's Executive Mansion. Mrs. McDonnell initially announced in July 2010 that portraits of all ten living First Ladies would be painted and displayed as a reminder of their immense roles in Virginia's history. Mrs. McDonnell was joined by Susan Allen, Jeannie Baliles, Roxane Gilmore, Jinks Holton, Anne Holton, Eddy Dalton Phillips and Lynda Robb at the unveiling yesterday. The completed portraits of the ten living First Ladies were revealed to the public at this event.

The portraits of the First Ladies were painted by five Virginia female artists and were paid for with private funds. The First Ladies of Virginia have consistently been strong supporters of their husbands, have taken on numerous projects, volunteered countless hours, and made the Executive Mansion a home during their administrations. Mrs. McDonnell's portrait project is her way of honoring each of these women's contributions to the Commonwealth. This project, which has brought together First Ladies and female artists, is part of the ongoing promotion of Mrs. McDonnell's FLITE Initiative focusing on women in business. More information about FLITE can be found at

Speaking about the project, First Lady Maureen McDonnell said, "It's truly an honor to be joined by so many of Virginia's former First Ladies. These fabulous women have left their own personal touch on the Executive Mansion, and now, their portraits will be displayed in our halls as a constant reminder of the history they helped create. I am excited to support women in the arts in this exciting project and I look forward to seeing the finished masterpieces during the 200th Anniversary of Virginia's Executive Mansion, which is a national landmark."

Loryn Brazier, Nancy Mauck, Nahid Neff, Christy Talbott, and Julia Williams are the artists that were selected to paint the portraits. This initiative was funded by generous donations from Altria and Dominion, and through support of Minds Wide Open, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

All ten portraits will be displayed in the mansion from September 11 to October 11 and on display for the public to view during scheduled public tours. Tour reservations can be made by calling Audrey Trussell at (804) 371-2642 x 2460. The Mansion will also host an open house on September 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited to stop by during this time to walk through the Mansion and view the portraits. After October 11, a couple portraits will remain at the Mansion and the others will be displayed at various historic locations throughout the area.

Artists and First Ladies


Additional Information