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At each of Whistler's transitional times you will find art in some form — and I would argue it is no different now as the resort continues to try and define itself in the post-Olympic era — a time we also find ourselves under tremendous economic pressure as the global economy struggles.
And as we have seen so many times in the past while various levels of government offer arts funding, there is not much policy to go with it.
At our municipal level, council has put $75,000 to develop a Comprehensive Community Cultural Plan, which is to provide a road map for the resort's cultural future— paid for out of the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding from the province.
The RMI is key to Whistler's plans for continued success as it applies to its festivals, events, and animation program.
Peer review is an important part of this process in examining not just the artistic success of the program, but also if it is fiscally wise in the circumstances — will bringing the VSO here for over $200,000 return the investment in spades to the resort? Let's hope so. And let's see the numbers of room nights booked for the concerts and hear from local businesses about what visitors spent around that event. Surely our arts and entertainment groups want to be striving for self-sufficiency? After all, the elephant in the room is how long the RMI funding will continue as the province itself copes with a tough economy and an aging population. This also begs the question if peer review should also be done by an independent organization, not by those who have a vested interest, as we have set up in Whistler.
Of course, achieving self-sufficiency is no easy feat — not back-in-the-day and not now.
And would we choose not to fund art in its many forms if it meant not having it at all? I don't think so. While we may not think about art every day, there is no doubt that it impacts us each and every day, and our worlds would be poorer if it was absent.
Whistler is fortunate beyond measure to have so many passionate people dedicated to the success of our resort's artistic culture — a culture that goes far beyond what is done for the visitor.
Our art and culture is about what is authentically Whistler — it's about readings at The Point, it is about the Children's Art Festival, it is about art in our school, our festivals and more, much more.