LETTER: Renata Sheppard Previews Art Events

April 20, 2015


It was such an adventure to be involved in the Harbor for the Arts Our Town grant project and be a part of the Harbor for the Arts Festival in 2013 and 2014. I am writing to share a few thoughts about working together building on the momentum of the Harbor for the Arts Our Town grant (the National Endowment for the Arts grant that brought you Experimental Film Virginia, Harbor for the Arts Festival, Art Walk and the Cape Charles by the Bay website in 2012-2014).

The Harbor for the Arts “branding” for Cape Charles, proposed and launched by the Our Town grant, is now in our collective hands. The goal of this branding, among other things, is to boost tourism, identity, and culture, and to position Cape Charles as a prime cultural tourism destination spot with the arts at the core of entertainment, events, and programming that will attract audiences near and far and nurture local community.

The core team included Arts Enter as lead applicant, Cape Charles Business Association, Citizens For Central Park, and the Town of Cape Charles; the proposed agenda included the Art Walk, the Cape Charles tourism website, and Harbor for the Arts Festival. Now that the grant period is over, these projects will live on independently and strive to bring back the events you loved last summer!

Experimental Film Virginia grew out of the Harbor for the Arts Festival as a way to bring it all together and produce a tangible artifact (the films) that could preserve and share the beauty of Cape Charles within and beyond our town as well as involving the community in the making of these films. It is an ideal creative-placemaking project and quickly became the core program of the Harbor for the Arts Festival in 2013 and 2014 while I was working with Arts Enter.

This year, Experimental Film Virginia is on its own and the Harbor for the Arts Festival remains an Arts Enter event. Experimental Film Virginia happens this July 1-12 with events that bring national and international artists for a two-week residency to create Art in a Barn, Films, and Bayamo After Party. The Harbor for the Arts Festival will return in August.


Although there is very little money and a lot of work involved in the non-profit sector, I feel driven to do this, to create something in beautiful Virginia.  I do this as a founding member of Arts Enter Cape Charles, as an artist who played a pivotal role in shaping the Harbor for the Arts Festival in 2013 and 2014, and as the Artistic Director of Experimental Film Virginia, a program that I hope will continue to excite, compliment, and involve an increasingly diverse community of local and visiting people and artists. Get involved — come have fun with Experimental Film Virginia this summer!

Please see the updated website for Experimental Film Virginia at www.experimentalfilmvirginia.com. We are bringing back these FREE public events:

— Art in a Barn, July 5, where we continue the lively tradition of gathering in barns, transforming the space into a stage for dance, music, projection, community, and good food and drink.

— Film Premiere & Bayamo Party, July 11, where we screen the newly created films at the Historic Palace Theatre followed by a huge bash with dancing and music.

We are also running an Indiegogo Campaign to support the dancers in residence and artists who will be coming from all over the world. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

I believe Cape Charles is a special town, full of very eccentric and unique places, people, and possibilities. And I want others to experience first-hand this amazing place where I have grown up.

Even if we don’t have an Our Town grant, we still have our town. And it is up to us to collaborate, support each other, and build on the Harbor for the Arts identity.

See you in June!


Renata Sheppard is the former Artistic Director for the Harbor for the Arts Festival and current Artistic Director of Experimental Film Virginia.



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