Arts, Heritage & Tourism Minister visits Plymouth and the Mayflower 400 team

The Minister’s visit recognises the importance of the 2020 Mayflower commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ historic journey across the Atlantic, and the celebration of Plymouth as Britain’s Ocean City.

With Britain’s Ocean City planning big things for the commemoration year, the Tourism Minister conducted a tour of key areas in the city that will play a role in the 2020 celebrations, including the Mayflower Steps, Barbican, The Hoe and the Royal William Yard.  Michael Ellis met with leaders from different sectors in the city to discuss the preparations.

Plymouth is leading a partnership of eleven locations across England and Leiden in Holland, all commemorating the historic voyage through major international events and the development of Mayflower-inspired projects.  Engagement of the US travel market is already underway, with initial signs of positive response to the commemorations and the trail of UK and Dutch locations.

Plymouth projects already unveiled include the development of three historic trails in Plymouth which will form part of a national network of trails taking visitors on a journey back to the 17th Century; renovations to the historic Elizabethan House (an architectural design team has recently been appointed), the development of ‘Illuminate’, a community and art festival of light; repair work to the Mayflower Steps and portico (a structural engineer has recently been appointed) and the opening of ‘The Box’ – the £37 million attraction, gallery and museum complex which will become the city’s cultural centre.

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism said, “I’ve been delighted to visit The Box to see how Arts Council England funding is helping to construct this unique cultural hub. Residents can look forward to a superb asset for the city, showcasing local arts, heritage and culture, will be worth the wait.

“The Mayflower 400 commemorations will increase the profile of the city among an international audience and encourage people to travel beyond London when they visit the UK. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to improve relations with international partners and to prove that the UK is open for business.

“The Mayflower 400 project will commemorate an important part of both UK and American history and I look forward to seeing how the story will be told and the impact the project has in Plymouth and beyond.”

Charles Hackett, the Chief Executive of Mayflower 2020 commented, “We are very pleased that the Arts, Heritage and Tourism Minister has chosen to visit Plymouth and engage with the Mayflower 400 national programme early in his time in post. We are busy working behind the scenes to make sure that across the country and in Plymouth we are able to take full advantage of the opportunities Mayflower 400 will bring.”

Tudor Evans, Leader, Plymouth City Council, said: “We are changing the face of our city with Plymouth’s biggest ever investment programme. Mayflower 400 in 2020 is our opportunity to showcase Plymouth to the world, but just as important is that the programme engages and inspires Plymouth itself. I’m glad to be discussing with the minister today the support that national government can give.”

Adrian Vinken, Chair of Mayflower 400 said: “The 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower is a national opportunity, led by our partnership of twelve locations across England. And it puts Plymouth in the global limelight, providing an opportunity to reflect on the pioneering international role Britain’s Ocean City played in the past whilst shining a spotlight on the pioneering creativity that’s making its future.”

Paul Brookes, CEO of The Box, Plymouth said “Today’s visit by the Minister is another important day in the journey towards the completion of The Box as a flagship legacy project for the Mayflower 400 commemorations. Besides housing numerous galleries that explore the impact of Plymouth on the world, The Box will feature the national exhibition looking at the Mayflower story, its context and its legacies. In addition, there will be a number of artist commissions and exhibitions that respond to the theme. We are looking forward to 2020 and the opening of The Box, Where the Greatest Explorer is You.”

Tourism supports over 7,000 jobs in Plymouth and brings over £316 million into the local economy annually. It is estimated that across the national Mayflower partnership there will be an increase in tourism visitors of over 1.4 million visitors during the commemoration year.

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