The past six months have seen Mayflower 400 step up a gear with momentum starting to gather towards 2020’s ambitious programme of local, national and international activities.
July saw the formal launch of the Mayflower Compact, a partnership of thirteen English, Dutch and American locations pledged to work together in commemoration and celebration of the world changing voyage of 1620. The launch fittingly took place in Gainsborough Old Hall where the original Pilgrims worshipped in secret more than 400 years ago. Amongst others in attendance were nine Lord Mayors, Mayors and City Council Leaders plus, from Massachusetts, Wrestling Brewster a tenth generation descendant of one of the Pilgrims’ early leaders.
We received funding from the DCMS towards the reopening of the Mayflower Visitor Centre in Plymouth and have been invited to co-ordinate a major national funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund on behalf of all Compact partners. Positive early discussions have also taken place with the Arts Council, UKTI, the Coastal Communities Fund, Visit Britain and Visit England.
A particular highlight was September’s visit to Plymouth by US Ambassador Matthew Barzun. Whilst in the city he formally reopened the Mayflower Visitor Centre and enthusiastically endorsed the Mayflower 400 vision noting its particular significance to the Special Relationship between the US and the UK. The Ambassador kindly offered to host a reception for the Mayflower 400 Compact next September with the intention that this be repeated annually by the Embassy up to 2020.
The Ambassador’s visit coincided with a number of influential visitors from the US also working hard to ensure that Mayflower 400 achieves the international impact that befits its historic significance. Among them was Lea Filson the Governor General of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants that represents over 16 million Americans living today who proudly trace their genealogy back to those few original Mayflower families. The President of the Massachusetts Cultural Commission Anita Walker also came to progress discussions begun earlier this year in Boston about potential transatlantic arts festivals and projects in the lead up to and during 2020. Finally Michelle Pecoraro, the Executive Director of our Massachusetts sister company Plymouth 400, spent a week in the city helping to deepen the already strong community partnership between the two Plymouths separated by the Atlantic but linked forever by the Mayflower story.
As you will see in this newsletter, Mayflower 400 has got off to a very promising start.
- the continued goodwill of our active partners in the US,
- the enthusiasm and commitment of all thirteen communities linked by the Mayflower Compact,
- the generosity of potential funding bodies and sponsors and
- the strategic support of government departments in Boston, Leiden, London and Washington
We can all look forward to an international programme of activities in 2020 that does justice to the vision and fortitude of those 102 brave pilgrims in 1620 and their powerful legacy of freedom and democracy embedded around the world today.
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