When communities support the arts, everyone benefits – from the artists themselves, to visitors and local businesses and residents. On the Bonavista Peninsula, Two Whales Coffee Shop and Fishers’ Loft Inn (read more here and here) are just two examples of businesses that have embraced the arts to help enhance the visitor experience, while giving local artists income and exposure at the same time.
Further up the peninsula, Tourism Elliston Inc. has also been working hard to put their tiny town on the map, while promoting economic sustainability and enhancing the quality of life for residents and artists. One of the ways they’ve accomplished this is by developing and promoting their natural and cultural resources to attract visitors and, in turn, private enterprise.
“It was not easy to attract private investment in the beginning, so Tourism Elliston started its own social enterprise, the Elliston Adventure Craft Store (located in the restored James Ryan Building), and entered into a public/private partnership with Nanny’s Root Cellar Kitchen (located in the historic Orange Hall). As the number of visitors to the community increased, entrepreneurs became more confident in the business potential and started investing in the community,” explains Marilyn Coles-Hayley, Chair of Tourism Elliston Inc.
Coles-Hayley says while there were no tourism-related businesses in the community when Tourism Elliston formed in 1998, there are now 18 including restaurants, accommodations, craft and general stores, and artisans.
“Tourism Elliston owns some commercial properties and still supports entrepreneurs setting up in these spaces, which enhances the community’s viability and creates employment opportunities for the community,” Coles-Hayley says.
Bill Raymond is a retired teacher and potter who purchased a summer home in Elliston last year. He says it wasn’t long before Tourism Elliston discovered he was an artist, and approached him to ask if he’d be interested in opening a studio in one of the buildings they had planned to renovate.
While that initial plan fell through, this summer, Tourism Elliston offered Raymond a space at the Elliston Adventure Craft Store on Main Street, where he set up shop and performed pottery demonstrations under the name “Liam’s Pottery” (a nod to his Irish heritage). After a couple of unforeseen delays, Raymond officially opened for business on August 1 (closing in mid September). He says he is floored by the response and support he’s received, both from Tourism Elliston and those who have come to visit his shop.
“I’ve had people coming up from Trinity and other little communities to see what I’m doing,” he says.
“I have had such tremendous success. My pottery has gone literally around the world, there are that many tourists…It’s amazing.”
While he initially had no plans to go into the pottery business, Raymond says he’s glad he decided to take Tourism Elliston up on their offer and hopes to be back at it next year. Coles-Hayley says Liam’s Pottery is a good fit and complements the other tourism industries within the community.
“These partnerships are important to the new entrepreneur and also important to fulfilling the mandate of Tourism Elliston,” she says. “It is a win-win situation for both.”