With breathtaking scenery, a rich history, an array of wonderful local businesses, and a vibrant cultural and culinary scene, there are so many things that make the Bonavista Peninsula a must-visit destination. The Bonavista Biennale is another jewel in the peninsula’s highly decorated crown.
A project of 2 Rooms Contemporary Art Projects in Duntara, the Bonavsita Biennale blasted onto the scene in 2017, attracting visitors far and wide to take in the works of local, national and international artists spread over a variety of exhibition spaces around the peninsula.
An event of this magnitude would not be possible without community and business support backing it up, which they have in spades says Sarah Agnew, Co-Manager of the Bonavista Biennale. This summer saw the second iteration of the event with 21 artists spread across 22 sites in 10 communities. Agnew says the sites (many of which were repeats from the 2017 Biennale), were provided for free to the Biennale by partners which included communities and local attractions, historic sites, organizations, businesses and individuals. In-kind support came from a number of businesses and organizations including Bonavista Living, the Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation and The Paint Shop in Bonavista, while corporate sponsors included Fishers’ Loft and the Bell Group (both founding sponsors), Cox & Palmer (through its “BRAVO! Supporting the Arts” program), Deloitte, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union.
The event not only helps give exposure to those artists who take part, but it also draws a large number of visitors to the peninsula, which is good news for the area and the local economy. This year, Agnew says, 2,765 visitors attended the Biennale (with 48 per cent coming from the province and 52 per cent coming from other parts of Canada, the United States and international locations), with 52 per cent making the trip specifically for the event.
“We’re really pleased with the results this year. Attendance was up by 80 per cent over 2017, bringing more visitors to local attractions and businesses, generating more tourist spending, and creating more positive word-of-mouth for the Bonavista Peninsula,” Agnew says.
The Biennale also creates employment opportunities, with 12 local residents hired this year as site attendants for six weeks. The project managers, social media and site coordinator, Agnew adds, were also peninsula residents.
Other numbers of note include:
$150,000 (approx.) – 2019 Biennale spending on the peninsula (goods, services, payroll).
$515,000 (approx.) – Estimated 2019 Biennale-related tourist spending on the peninsula.
$60,000 (approx.) – Amount spent on goods and services in St. John’s and elsewhere in the province.
In terms of awareness, Agnew says this year’s Biennale received “significantly higher coverage in and out of the province than in 2017 – reaching a broader audience, increasing awareness of the Biennale and the Bonavista Peninsula as a destination.”
The Bonavista Biennale has without a doubt made a splash, receiving well-deserved recognition both at home and abroad, and contributing to the local community and the province in a very big way. The next event will take place in 2021.