Tom Tom is a nonprofit whose mission is to celebrate and empower the founders of creative, civic, and entrepreneurial projects. Each April over Thomas Jefferson’s birthday week (April 13), Charlottesville’s historic downtown is reimagined as a creative canvas, with dozens of venues participating. Like the founding polymath, Tom Tom explores diverse disciplines – society, education, energy, food, and technology — and links the rich history of the City with an exploration into the future. Ultimately, the festival seeks to leave lasting legacies of creativity throughout Charlottesville through public art and business formation.
“Tom Tom” is a friendly nod toward Thomas Jefferson, author of The Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, architect of Monticello, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson was a visionary farmer, winemaker, art patron, and inventor. Tom Tom connects Jefferson’s revolutionary legacy with the difficult and visionary work of founders today.
The buffalo is a symbol of the frontier. Lewis and Clark returned from their exploration of the American West with a buffalo hide displaying Native American painting and cartography. Thomas Jefferson sponsored their historic journey, and this hide now hangs in the foyer of Jefferson’s home Monticello, as a reminder of the value of American risk-taking.
Tom Tom’s strength is that it brings people with diverse perspectives and passions together. Keeping the majority of the Festival’s events free makes that possible. Everyone is welcome to participate, be inspired, and have fun at Tom Tom.
Tom Tom staff includes a mix of full, parttime, freelance, and volunteer professionals in marketing, production, programming, design, and other fields. The festival’s director, Paul Beyer, is also the Founder of Tom Tom. Tom Tom’s programming and strategic choices are made with the input of its board. Finally, Tom Tom would be completely impossible without the time and energy of the nearly 200 individuals who volunteer at the Festival each year. Complete list of Staff & Board.