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Pat and Doug Perry endow Artistic Director position of Virginia Arts Festival
Rob Cross. Photo: David Polston.

NORFOLK, VA.- The Virginia Arts Festival announced that the Perry family has generously endowed the Perry Artistic Director, the first named position in the organization. The position is held by Robert W. Cross, who envisioned and created the Festival in 1997.

Cross has served as the executive director and artistic director since VAF’s inception. Over the last 19 years, Cross has shaped VAF into one of the premier performing arts festivals in the United States. Additionally, VAF has transformed the cultural life of the Hampton Roads region and has made the area a cultural destination for travelers from around the world.

Starting as a two-week festival in 1997, VAF has grown significantly. In 2014, it presented 83 performances throughout nine cities from April through June with patrons traveling from 46 states and 12 countries.

The Perrys feel strongly about giving back to the community that underlies their success. They are well known for their generous support of the arts and education in the region including their support of the Governor’s School for the Arts, Virginia Stage Company, Hurrah Players, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Old Dominion University, the Kroc Center and the Chrysler Museum of Art Glass Studio to name a few. Doug Perry was a co-founder of Dollar Tree Stores, headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia.

“We’ve watched Rob’s success over the years and have enjoyed countless world-class performances through the Festival,” said Pat Perry. “Doug and I want to ensure that the cultural vitality of the region will continue by endowing this very important position within the organization.”

“I am so honored to know that this position is now endowed for the future of the Festival,” said Cross. “The Perrys’ contributions to our cultural community ensure that we rise above other regions of our size with world-class offerings and educational opportunities. They are great art patrons, and their generosity will impact many generations to come.”

Under Cross’ direction, the Virginia Arts Festival programming spans a multitude of performing arts genres from lavish classical ballet to cutting-edge modern dance; dramatic productions to provocative musical theatre; classical music virtuosos to jazz, folk and rock music ; and spectacular multidisciplinary performances and cultural traditions from around the world. VAF has presented internationally acclaimed artists and groups including Itzhak Perlman, Broadway sensation Patti LuPone, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Britain’s Birmingham Royal Ballet, humorist Garrison Keillor, soprano star Renée Fleming, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, trumpeter Chris Botti, violinist Joshua Bell, actor Al Pacino, and the acclaimed Guarneri String Quartet.

The annual Virginia International Tattoo, a grand display of patriotism, pride and international goodwill, features military bands, drill teams, massed pipes and drums, dancers and choirs, with a cast of more than 800 from around the world. Recognized by the American Bus Association as an Internationally Known Event, it is the largest event of its kind in the United States and has become a signature event drawing visitors from New York to New Zealand.

VAF also presents outdoor events throughout the spring season. The Virginia Beer Festival, PANorama Caribbean Music Festival, Annual Memorial Day Concert and Tattoo Hullabaloo are annual favorites that deliver eclectic cultural events to an even wider audience throughout the region.

The Virginia Arts Festival showcases world-class performing arts, provides outstanding educational programs, commissions innovative performances of national and international significance and creates an economic impact of more than $17 million per year through cultural tourism. Since 1997, VAF has presented numerous U.S. and regional premieres of new works of music, dance and theater from the most influential composers, choreographers and playwrights. VAF’s arts education programs reach 34,000 area schoolchildren each year through student matinees, in‐school performances, artists’ residencies, master classes and workshops.

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