“For years, the festival has incorporated programming across all arts into the lineup,” Adam Stackhouse, co-producer of the festival, said. “Theatre, music, dance and writing has all been in there. And we thought this would show that diversity of the fields we’re incorporating into the festival. We’re looking to acknowledge it more to recognize this festival is showcasing arts across all spectrums.”
While film is still a major part of the festival, Stackhouse said that other elements that have been growing over the years will play a larger role in the festival.
The name “Ampersand” is both a nod to W&M’s iconic symbol and the cross-collaborative nature of the event.
“We very much look at it as a town gown festival,” Stackhouse said.
With sponsors including the City of Williamsburg, W&M and Colonial Williamsburg, the event takes place both on-campus and off-campus at about 15 venues around Williamsburg.
“We’re very happy to be using the Amphitheater at Lake Matoaka every evening,” Liz Sykes, co-producer of the festival, said. “So we will have movie screenings there as well as music.”
The event will also feature collaborations between arts groups.
“That’s really the goal is to just talk about what we’re all doing and create a platform for people to showcase what they’re working on,” Sykes said.
Sykes said that those who attended previous festivals can expect the same number of films and style of films, with W&M faculty introducing some of the films.
The festival has also expanded the films this year by adding a track of anniversary screenings held in Hennage Auditorium, inside the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, 301 S Nassau St.
“There’s a diverse slate of programming that kind of covers all demographics,” Stackhouse said. “Students tend to come out to things where they can see performance groups or more popular movies that have been on their radar. And the Williamsburg population tends to be pretty brave in seeing our more art house cinema, or international films and documentaries. Then some of the big international films that you see at the Oscars, those tend to be a hit across both groups.”
In addition to films, theatre, and music, the festival will also include author talks, workshops, panels, receptions and more.
“I’m looking forward to the receptions we’re able to bing back this year because it’s a nice way for people to connect,” Sykes said.
The expanded festival will also include an arts and entertainment industry summit and Q&A panel with alum.
“That’s something we really want to continue to grow is making those connections between alumni and current students, to help them get internship opportunities and jobs,” Sykes said.
The festival will still feature a virtual format, with attendees able to access films on a streaming platform. Some of the panels will be virtual as well.
“That was actually a silver lining of some of what we had to do to adapt to the pandemic last year,” Sykes said. “We realized we could actually get a lot more alumni involved through the virtual component, because many of them are enthusiastic about supporting the festival, but they are on the west coast or they are just not able to travel to Williamsburg.”
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