What’s next for Cupids?
New organization being established to capitalize on historic celebration
The Cupids 400 celebrations are but a memory. One of the remaining tasks is to archive the thousands of documents for the sake of posterity. In 2110, residents will want to know how their forebears, in 2010, celebrated the town’s distinction as the birthplace of English Canada.
Last year’s celebrations came with a hefty price tag. Total financial investment in Cupids 400, including provincial, federal and corporate contributions, topped $10 million. More than 200 events were organized to mark the occasion. Dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales and the mayor of Bristol, England, visited the town.
Quite the undertaking for a town the size of Cupids, with a population of only 790.
In the wake of all this hullabaloo, an important question remains, what’s left now that Cupids 400 has morphed into Cupids 401?
Roy Dawe, chair of Cupids 400 Inc., is no less enthusiastic today about the future of his town as he was at the start of last year. He says, “ We have approval from the existing board of directors to proceed with a plan to reorganize Cupids 400 Inc. into a new company tentatively called Cupids Legacy Inc.”
Peter Laracy, general manager of the Cupids Legacy Centre, adds, “ We’re not dissolving the old foundation. We’re evolving into something new.”
The focus will move from “ build-
Roy Dawe is chair of Cupids 400 Inc.
ing and celebrating to continuous operation,” Dawe explains.
Transition process underway
The old mandate — conserving, preserving and promoting the history and heritage of Cupids and region — will remain unchanged. However, it will be carried out under the aegis of the Cupids Legacy Centre.
The corporation’s charter, mandate and bylaws will be amended accordingly to reflect this transition, a process which should be complete by the end of March.
The first step in forming the new board of directors of Cupids Legacy Inc. was taken on Feb. 22. A total of 15 residents turned out for a public meeting. Bob Bishop and Sandy Newton were elected as Cupids-at-Large members of the corporation.
Cupids Legacy Inc. will be tasked with ensuring the so-called “Cupids experience” becomes a must-see attraction on the northern Avalon peninsula.
This new buzzword — the Cupids experience — refers to “ what visitors encounter when they come here,” Dawe says.
There’s the Legacy Centre itself, including the archaeology lab. But there’s also the John Guy monument, three-flag pavilion, heritage gardens, harbour front walkway, and Pointe Beach. Laracy calls the cannon site “a very favourable photo op position for visitors.” The old Methodist church is another visitor favourite. Several lessons were learned in 2010. First, Laracy points out the importance of “ looking at both the short-term and long-term vision. Sometimes it takes a long time to get where you want to go.”
Timing is everything. Planning for Cupids 400 began about 20 years ago. “ We couldn’t do the basics because the funding was announced extremely late,” Dawe says. “ We were under constant pressure to pull everything off by the summer (of 2010).”
Sheer persistence is essential. Larcacy recalls “ when we couldn’t get doors opened. Even when we got inside rooms and sat down and talked to people, we didn’t get much of a legitimate hearing. It was more tokenism than anything.” But sticking with a well-defined goal paid rich dividends in the end, he adds.
Dawe believes “ the province needs new attractions. People like to come back and see new things.” The Cupids Legacy Centre, which is a debt-free, state-of-the-art facility, is just such an attraction. Laracy calls it “interactive, compelling and engaging.”
It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, Laracy suggests. “ Sometimes you’re so immersed in things.”
Large number of visitors
For example, there were almost 10,000 visitors to the centre last year. This is not to mention the 5,000 or more untracked visitors. They typically responded with comments like, “ This is as good as anything we’ve seen anywhere else in Canada.” However, Laracy says, “ You don’t realize the value of what you’re doing.”
Dawe is pleased the incoming board of directors will be inheriting a “ financially healthy organization because of budget savings; a cash surplus budget to ease the pressure until we get into full swing of what we have not yet achieved.”
He identifies one of the most important legacies from 2010: “ Cupids is now on the map.” Laracy concurs, adding, “ We now have what we believe is an icon in terms of an anchor tourism attraction.” There will be significant economic spinoffs as Cupids partners with other towns in the region.
The facilities in Cupids, especially the Legacy Centre, are designed to cater to the needs of a wide variety of people. The centre will be made available to groups looking for new venues for educational, conference and corporate events, such as workshops and seminars. “ We have something to offer all of them,” Laracy says. The facilities will also be made available for social events like weddings. Dawe applauds the “valuable experience” learned in 2010 by being able “to handle 300 people at one time.”
People from the region, including school students, will be afforded “a chance to think about and reflect on the history and heritage of the people who have lived here for the past 400 years,” Laracy says.
Another audience is from outside the region. “ We believe we have unique experiences to give them a sense of how life has evolved here,” he adds.
The centre also houses a family history resource, designed to assist with genealogical research. The centre’s observation deck, which overlooks the harbour and Spectacle Head, serves as a green space. Events will even be held there, Laracy says, “in terms of exploring our culture.”
Dawe and Laracy are excited about the future of their town. The events of 2010 were merely a prelude to even greater things to come. “ The Cupids experience is the overall resources, assets and experiences you can have when you come to Cupids,” Laracy says.