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Rob Cross

Executive & Artistic Director
Virginia Arts Festival Norfolk, VA

Robert W. Cross, drawing on his decades of experience as a manager, programmer, and performer, founded the Virginia Arts Festival in 1997 and has served as its only executive and artistic director. Under Mr. Cross’s leadership, the festival has brought distinguished dance companies, world-class theater, and internationally celebrated musicians to Virginia. Mr. Cross graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied percussion with Vic Firth of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

What's an emerging opportunity that can be developed in the classical music performance world / how can classical music expand its impact in the present moment?

We have an opportunity to expand our audience for classical music and specifically chamber music. Over the past decade the Virginia Arts Festival has begun to develop a younger audience that is new to classical music. By working with artists on the format of the concerts and exploring alternative performances spaces we have found many of the traditional barriers to attendance are broken down. Artists are beginning to understand the importance of their interaction with the audience both during the concert and after and also the importance of working with young people.

How does your institution reflect the values of the AVANT initiative in general, and/or the IMPACT PERFORMANCE competition in particular?

Virginia Arts Festival is excited to participate in this project as it aligns with our mission and goals to support new work and to reach a more diverse audience for classical music.

What would you say to an artist considering applying to the IMPACT PERFORMANCE innovation competition?

I would challenge the artist to imagine what will spark the audience to want to return for the next concert and want them to invite their friends to discover a sound world they might be missing.