Castleton receives $50K Virginia Tourism grant

The Castleton Festival received a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Grant Fund program, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced recently.

The grant covers the 2013, fifth-anniversary season of the festival, which was founded by Lorin and Dietlinde Maazel and successfully concluded its run this summer on July 28. This year the festival partnered with the Rappahannock County Office of Tourism, Fauquier County Department of Economic Development and Culpeper Department of Tourism to supply $141,960 in matching funds for the project.

McDonnell recently increased funding for the VTC Marketing Leverage Grant Fund program as part of his administration’s efforts to increase economic development through tourism. In total, VTC awarded more than $980,000 for 54 tourism marketing projects across the state; Castleton was one of only eight entities to receive the maximum grant award.

“Our brand is intrinsically linked to Virginia Tourism Corporation’s ‘Virginia is for Lovers,’ and we are tremendously grateful for this partnership,” said Nancy Gustafson, the festival’s general manager. “Castleton Festival is in a unique position to offer world-class performing arts in a stunning Virginia setting, while contributing to the economic health and vitality of the local Piedmont region. It is our goal to carry the name of Castleton Festival around the world and draw visitors to our Virginia Piedmont home.”

This season, Castleton, which is now recognized among the top international music festivals, welcomed nearly 13,000 patrons from 32 states and from as far away as Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

The 2013 season launched with significantly increased funding from both the National Endowment for the Arts ($30,000) and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which awarded the festival its highest level of support ($77,000). Coupled with the $50,000 grant from the VTC, the festival received $159,000 in government funding this season.

More than one-third of this season’s performances were sold out, which is slightly more than last year’s 25 percent. Forty percent of opera performances were sold out, with one other performance reaching 90 percent capacity.

This year’s festival also included new, curriculum-relevant education-outreach pilot programs Opera Alive! and Opera for the Young, which served nearly 200 students. The Opera Alive! on-site survey showed almost half the students had never experienced opera before and 95 percent said they’d return to Castleton for a repeat experience.

“Rappahannock County considers the Castleton Festival to be the signature event of our prime tourism season and the anchor for our cultural offerings throughout the county,” said County Administrator John McCarthy. “Further, the jobs it provides, directly and indirectly, coupled with the taxes paid by its patrons, are a linchpin in our tourism-focused economic development.”

Programming for the sixth Castleton Festival (June 28-July 20, 2014) will be announced later this year. For more information, including the scheduled performances for the upcoming winter season, visit CastletonFestival.org.

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