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Paint Stain

5 Key Takeaways from the 2016 MA 400 Forum

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Plymouth 400

1. The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Department of Housing and Economic Development strongly support the Massachusetts 400 initiative as an economic development driver for the Commonwealth and recognize the opportunities that our historical communities have in promoting our collective histories to the world. Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council closed yesterday’s program with an exciting announcement about proposed funding for the Massachusetts 400 initiative; a request for $5.8 million in the FY2017 State budget in what she calls the “Massachusetts 400 Accelerator Fund” to support the planning and execution of 400th anniversaries across the Commonwealth.
2. Communities across the state are excited about their 400th Anniversaries! Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem, Mayor Thomas Koch of Quincy, and Boston’s Director of Tourism, Sports, and Culture Ken Brissette participated in a panel discussion with Plymouth 400 President and Chair of the Plymouth Select Board Ken Tavares during which the plans and goals of each of these historic communities’ 400th anniversaries and the importance of working together to promote them nationally and internationally were discussed. Ken Brissette summed it up best by saying, “If we don’t sell our state to the world, visitors will go somewhere else!”
3. It’s important that the whole story is told. In the Plymouth 400 office, we like to say that we aim to be “historically accurate and culturally inclusive.” Always. Our international visitors from Leiden, Netherlands expressed their excitement in telling about the Pilgrims’ twelve years in their city, a piece of the story that is often overlooked. Linda Coombs, Chair of Plymouth 400’s Wampanoag Advisory Committee spoke about the importance of including Native history in the narrative (like Squanto’s 1614 kidnapping) and allowing the Wampanoag story, which is often misrepresented, to be told. Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem said that although many people know Salem only for the Salem Witch Trials, there are so many other parts of the story, and the City plans to leverage each and every piece of its varied history to reach as many people as possible in 2026. “There is no doubt in my mind that we have a community that prides itself in our history,” said Mayor Driscoll.
4. The United Kingdom is investing in the 2020 Commemoration. Our partners, Mayflower 400, (who will visit the USA in April to discuss arts and cultural programming collaboration), gave us an update on the 2020 commemoration in Plymouth, UK. Plymouth City Council recently committed £2.25 million in seed revenue funding over the next 5 years to support the planning of commemorative events and programs, and Southampton has proposed a £450 million development and extension of Mayflower Park to welcome visitors in 2020.
5.The world’s eyes will turn to Plymouth in 2020, and it’s important that the entire Commonwealth is well-prepared. The voyage of Mayflower, one of the most important ocean crossings in world history, and the founding of Plymouth Colony provide the iconic framework for our American Thanksgiving holiday.  From tourism promotion to front-line staff knowledge of this commemoration, getting the word out, creating collaborations and providing training on the events and programs of the 400th anniversary will be essential to success of this and subsequent anniversaries.

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